Ancient Epic (Blackwell Introductions to the Classical by Katherine Callen King

By Katherine Callen King

Old Epic deals a accomplished and available advent to 6 of the best historic epics – Homer's Iliad and Odyssey, Vergil's Aeneid, Ovid's Metamorphoses, and Apollonius of Rhodes' Agonautica.Provides an obtainable creation to the traditional epicOffers interpretive analyses of poems inside a accomplished ancient contextIncludes an in depth timeline, feedback for extra readings, and an appendix of the Olympian gods and their Akkadian opposite numbers

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5. doc). 10 The snake’s theft of the plant of rejuvenation, which denies humankind its restorative benefits, has a parallel in Greek and other mythologies. Such stories illustrate the fact that old age as well as mortality are part of the human condition. See M. L. West’s East Face of Helicon (Oxford, 1999) p. 118 for the Greek parallel. 2 The Context of Homeric Epic The Iliad and Odyssey, like the Epic of Gilgamesh, were created from already existing stories. We cannot know what the “original” stories about Achilles and Odysseus might have been, because Greek tradition was totally oral, and the heroes are minor kings for whom we have no proof of historical existence.

Helen’s older sister Klytemnestra had married Agamemnon, the wealthy King of Mycenae, and Helen soon after had married his brother Menelaos, who thereby succeeded Helen’s father as King of Sparta. Because of Helen’s unearthly beauty, and perhaps also because of the kingdom that was her dowry, she had been courted by every prince of Greece. Over fifty of them gathered at her father’s court when she came of age, and he, fearing that the suitors would turn violent when he picked one of them to be her husband, made them all swear an oath to defend 40 THE CONTEXT OF HOMERIC EPIC the chosen one’s right to her.

Last and at greatest length he curses Shamhat, the woman who made him a civilized human being. At this point, however, Shamash intervenes and reminds him of the benefits he acquired through her: haute cuisine, haute couture, a beloved friend who will mourn him, and elaborate funeral ritual. Enkidu, persuaded that these cultural benefits are worth the cost, grows calm and blesses her. Soon, however, he is disturbed by a dream of the Netherworld, a place of darkness and dust whose inhabitants eat clay and wear feathers.

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