By Charles Rowan Beye
Charles Rowan Beye's severely acclaimed interpretive advent to the epic poetry and poets of historic Greece, Rome, and Assyria is right here reprinted in an multiplied moment version with a brand new preface, new bankruptcy on Gilgamesh, and an Appendix of additional studying 1993-2005. for hundreds of years the beginnings of the literary historical past of the West have been outlined by way of 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 speculated to have take place in best suited isolation both as a miracle of divine production or the spontaneous combustion of the 'Greek genius'. The potent 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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Extra info for Ancient Epic Poetry: Homer, Apollonius, Virgil with a Chapter on the Gilgamesh Poems
M ore to the point, as Thom as Flesher points out, O d ysseu s in qualifying his contem ptible liar as m otivated by poverty rem inds us that he him self lies for fun. Yet it w o u ld be very difficult to im agine that the circum stances of reading in the archaic age m ade such a w itty bit of intertextuality possible, and m ore's the pity for that archaic audience! But w h at is the Iliad to the Odyssey and vice versa? H o w is it that tw o such long poem s of such genius exist w h en they do not seem to be the w ork of one single person?
Som e w ould call this profound ignorance of the Iliad; others w ould argue that such a pointed refusal to ackn o w l ed ge the other poem is tantam ount to accepting its intrusion into every scene. M ore recently, various scholars have draw n attention to w hat they im agine to be subtle allusions to the Iliad in the Odyssey. O ne m ay com pare the scene in the Odyssey (O d. 173) w h en A thena chides O d ysseu s (w ho is part of the mob scene as the m en rush to the ships) w ith a similar rhetorical question.
N onetheless, the oral theory for the origin of the Iliad and the Odyssey is finally no more than theory. A considerable am ount of empirical evidence taken from contem porary living oral traditions has been assem bled to give it substance. M ost persons im agine on the basis of it that during the M ycenaean period there flourished court poets or bards w h ose principal occupation w as to sing about the exploits of the fam ous and pow erful men of the locale. D em odocus, the singing poet at the court of A lcinous (O d.
Ancient Epic Poetry: Homer, Apollonius, Virgil with a Chapter on the Gilgamesh Poems by Charles Rowan Beye