A Companion to Ancient Epic (Blackwell Companions to the by John Miles Foley

By John Miles Foley

A better half to historical Epic offers for the 1st time a complete, up to date assessment of historical close to jap, Greek and Roman epic. It deals a multi-disciplinary dialogue of either longstanding principles and more moderen views. A spouse to the close to jap, Greek, and Roman epic traditionsConsiders the interrelation among those varied traditionsProvides a balanced evaluation of longstanding principles and more recent views within the examine of epicShows how scholarship during the last 40 years has reworked the ways in which we conceive of and comprehend the genreCovers lately brought subject matters, similar to the position of girls, the historical past of reception, and comparability with dwelling analogues from oral traditionThe editor and participants are major students within the fieldIncludes a close index of poems, poets, technical phrases, and significant figures and occasions

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Extra info for A Companion to Ancient Epic (Blackwell Companions to the Ancient World)

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Does cosmic scale demand extreme length? ). Such questions arise especially with ancient texts for which we have multiple versions, such as Gilgamesh. They can be approached, if not positively answered, by examining such Indic traditions as Ramcaritmanas, of which even a brief song session by women at local shrines is still regarded as ‘‘epic’’ recitation. To take another example, long similes – seemingly the stock-in-trade of ‘‘epic’’ composition – turn out in many cultures to be poetic interludes consciously imported from companion traditions (what one might call ‘‘lyric’’).

For example, the Hesiodic Works and Days in its lengthy meditation on ‘‘right’’ justice (dikeˆ) makes an indispensable poetic counterpart to the central themes of both the Iliad (the disputes between Agamemnon and Achilles, Achaeans and Trojans) and the Odyssey (the vengeance on the hubris of the suitors). By the same token, the Theogony puts in dogmatic form the key points, in similar formulaic phrases, that Odysseus uses to instruct the Phaeacian nobility in Book 8 of the Odyssey. Again, the Odyssey features an extended ‘‘catalogue’’ of heroic women in the Underworld scene of Book 11, which even in antiquity was matched with the Hesiodic Catalogue.

In sum, the genre inhered in its performers. Neither formal nor thematic boundaries prevented rhapsodic cross-pollinization. Our notion of ‘‘epic’’ will not be too large if it expands to fit the performance repertoire of these important figures, and by extension, the cognitive and aesthetic capabilities of their audiences. 3 ‘‘Epic’’ Cross-culturally ‘‘Epic’’ – or any other literary genre – cannot be classified apart from the performers who transmit it. One can even argue, as Gregory Nagy does, that the invention of ‘‘genre’’ as a system of categories in Greek literary history only occurs when the oral-traditional performances of the archaic period are reduced to writing, mostly during the fifth century B C E , and the originating events lost or forgotten.

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