A Companion to Ancient Epic

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A Companion to Ancient Epic presents for the first time acomprehensive, up-to-date overview of ancient Near Eastern, Greekand Roman epic. It offers a multi-disciplinary discussion of bothlongstanding ideas and newer perspectives.
  • A Companion to the Near Eastern, Greek, and Roman epictraditions
  • Considers the interrelation between these differenttraditions
  • Provides a balanced overview of longstanding ideas and newerperspectives in the study of epic
  • Shows how scholarship over the last forty years has transformedthe ways that we conceive of and understand the genre
  • Covers recently introduced topics, such as the role of women,the history of reception, and comparison with living analogues fromoral tradition
  • The editor and contributors are leading scholars in thefield
  • Includes a detailed index of poems, poets, technical terms, andimportant figures and events
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About the author

John Miles Foley is the Curators’ and Byler Professor of Classical Studies and English at the University of Missouri. He is the founder and Director of the Center for Studies in Oral Tradition. He is the author of The Theory of Oral Composition (1988), The Singer of Tales in Performance (1995), Homer’s Traditional Art (1999), and How to Read an Oral Poem (2002).
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Additional Information

Publisher
John Wiley & Sons
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Published on
Apr 15, 2008
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Pages
696
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ISBN
9781405153041
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Best For
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Language
English
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Genres
Language Arts & Disciplines / Linguistics / General
Literary Criticism / Ancient & Classical
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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In recent decades, the evidence for an oral epic tradition in ancient Greece has grown enormously along with our ever-increasing awareness of worldwide oral traditions. John Foley here examines the artistic implications that oral tradition holds for the understanding of the Iliad and Odyssey in order to establish a context for their original performance and modern-day reception.

In Homer's Traditional Art, Foley addresses three crucially interlocking areas that lead us to a fuller appreciation of the Homeric poems. He first explores the reality of Homer as their actual author, examining historical and comparative evidence to propose that "Homer" is a legendary and anthropomorphic figure rather than a real-life author. He next presents the poetic tradition as a specialized and highly resonant language bristling with idiomatic implication. Finally, he looks at Homer's overall artistic achievement, showing that it is best evaluated via a poetics aimed specifically at works that emerge from oral tradition.

Along the way, Foley offers new perspectives on such topics as characterization and personal interaction in the epics, the nature of Penelope's heroism, the implications of feasting and lament, and the problematic ending of the Odyssey. His comparative references to the South Slavic oral epic open up new vistas on Homer's language, narrative patterning, and identity.

Homer's Traditional Art represents a disentangling of the interwoven strands of orality, textuality, and verbal art. It shows how we can learn to appreciate how Homer's art succeeds not in spite of the oral tradition in which it was composed but rather through its unique agency.

In recent decades, the evidence for an oral epic tradition in ancient Greece has grown enormously along with our ever-increasing awareness of worldwide oral traditions. John Foley here examines the artistic implications that oral tradition holds for the understanding of the Iliad and Odyssey in order to establish a context for their original performance and modern-day reception.

In Homer's Traditional Art, Foley addresses three crucially interlocking areas that lead us to a fuller appreciation of the Homeric poems. He first explores the reality of Homer as their actual author, examining historical and comparative evidence to propose that "Homer" is a legendary and anthropomorphic figure rather than a real-life author. He next presents the poetic tradition as a specialized and highly resonant language bristling with idiomatic implication. Finally, he looks at Homer's overall artistic achievement, showing that it is best evaluated via a poetics aimed specifically at works that emerge from oral tradition.

Along the way, Foley offers new perspectives on such topics as characterization and personal interaction in the epics, the nature of Penelope's heroism, the implications of feasting and lament, and the problematic ending of the Odyssey. His comparative references to the South Slavic oral epic open up new vistas on Homer's language, narrative patterning, and identity.

Homer's Traditional Art represents a disentangling of the interwoven strands of orality, textuality, and verbal art. It shows how we can learn to appreciate how Homer's art succeeds not in spite of the oral tradition in which it was composed but rather through its unique agency.

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