Ancient Epic Poetry: Homer, Apollonius, Virgil with a by Charles Rowan Beye

By Charles Rowan Beye

Charles Rowan Beye's significantly acclaimed interpretive creation to the epic poetry and poets of old Greece, Rome, and Assyria is right here reprinted in an elevated moment variation with a brand new preface, new bankruptcy on Gilgamesh, and an Appendix of extra interpreting 1993-2005. for hundreds of years the beginnings of the literary background of the West have been outlined via the Hebrew Bible what most folk name the previous testomony and Homer's epic poems, the Iliad and Odyssey. those texts have been as soon as naively purported to have turn up in superb isolation both as a miracle of divine production or the spontaneous combustion of the 'Greek genius'. The strong circulate of phrases down over the millennia to our personal time are such a lot of generations of offspring nonetheless by some means beholden to their preliminary begetters.

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Additional resources for Ancient Epic Poetry: Homer, Apollonius, Virgil with a Chapter on the Gilgamesh Poems

Example text

T hey seem to have been com posed in order to create a chro­ nology in epic narrative of all the events from the origin of the w orld to the death of O dysseus, w hich is w h at w e m ight call the end of the heroic period. Aristotle congratulates H om er for focusing on a small time span in the grand schem e of the Trojan War w hile m anaging through allusion to remind his audience of all the events before, during, and after the ten-year war. The poets of the Epic C ycle had no talent for such sophisticated narration, it seems; their aim w as the simpler, more straightforward one of furnishing a chronicle.

In no w ay, h ow ever, should this inhibit the reader from m aking associations. The tw o poem s are far too m ysterious not to en gage our liveliest im aginations com pletely. For instance, any reader of the Od­ yssey is free to enjoy the delicious irony that the language in w hich the disguised O d ysseu s replies to Eum aeus's suspicions about the possibility of his lying exactly repeats the h augh ty disdain for liars w h ich A chilles directs at O d ysseu s in the Iliad (II. 312-13; Od. 14.

N eoanalysis accepts the notion of an oral basis for the origin and early developm ent of the poem s but sees the Iliad and the Odyssey, as w e have them, as texts partially derived from other texts, all generated by writers. The relation of literacy to orality has never been resolved. Strict oralists maintain that the poet or poets m ust have been preliterate in order to gain real m astery of the oral style, that once corrupted by writing, preliterate poets could not have sustained their narrative technique.

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