By Charles Rowan Beye
Charles Rowan Beye's severely acclaimed interpretive advent to the epic poetry and poets of old Greece, Rome, and Assyria is the following reprinted in an elevated moment variation with a brand new preface, new bankruptcy on Gilgamesh, and an Appendix of extra analyzing 1993-2005. for hundreds of years the beginnings of the literary historical past of the West have been outlined through the Hebrew Bible what most folks name the previous testomony and Homer's epic poems, the Iliad and Odyssey. those texts have been as soon as naively alleged to have occur in well suited isolation both as a miracle of divine production or the spontaneous combustion of the 'Greek genius'. The powerful circulation 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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Extra resources for Ancient Epic Poetry: Homer, Apollonius, Virgil with a Chapter on the Gilgamesh Poems
He despairs of ever achieving the fam e that will guarantee him som e kind of im m ortality once he is dead. He is an arrogant king w h o oppresses his people. In their distress they call out to the gods, w h o decide to create a double to fight w ith Gilgam esh: Enkidu, a child of nature, w h o runs w ith the w ild anim als and eats Oral Poetry · 35 grasses. To bring him into the city, a tem ple prostitute is sent out w ith a hunter to the watering hole w here Enkidu and his animal com rades will come.
The celebrated Catalogue of Ships in the second book of the Iliad is a passage of several hundred lines in w hich the Oral Poetry · 23 narrator lists the contingents of A chaeans and their allies w h o came to fight at Troy. The so-called C atalogue of W om en is a list of fam ous w om en from m yth w hom O d ysseu s sees in the underw orld (Od. 225-330). 502-3). Works and Days is a m élange of m axim s, fables, agricultural lore, rural calendars— all bound together in dactylic hexam eters to serve the greater end of a disquisition on the nature of justice.
The principal problem in ascertaining the orality o f the Hom eric poem s is defining a formula. Exactly repeated phrases seem obvious Oral Poetry · 27 enough, but h ow m any times m ust the phrase be repeated to count? W hat about analogous phrases? W hen the econom y of the system is confirm ed by noting that a phrase m ade up of a personal name and epithet, such as "sw ift-footed A ch illes," is alm ost never duplicated in any one grammatical case in any given metrical position, w hat are w e to say for the use of a w ord or phrase in the same metrical and grammatical situation w hich denotes the person w ithout nam ing him?
Ancient Epic Poetry: Homer, Apollonius, Virgil with a Chapter on the Gilgamesh Poems by Charles Rowan Beye