By Charles Rowan Beye
Charles Rowan Beye's significantly acclaimed interpretive creation to the epic poetry and poets of historic Greece, Rome, and Assyria is right here reprinted in an multiplied moment variation with a brand new preface, new bankruptcy on Gilgamesh, and an Appendix of extra studying 1993-2005. for hundreds of years the beginnings of the literary background of the West have been outlined by means of the Hebrew Bible what most folks name the outdated testomony and Homer's epic poems, the Iliad and Odyssey. those texts have been as soon as naively alleged to have turn up in fantastic isolation both as a miracle of divine production or the spontaneous combustion of the 'Greek genius'. The potent movement of phrases down over the millennia to our personal time are such a lot of generations of offspring nonetheless in some way 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
There survive tw o other dactylic hexam etric poem s w hich are thought to be from the oral period. These are Works and Days and Theogony (Origin of the gods) by a certain Hesiod, w h o is m uch more w illing to identify him self than is the narrator of the Iliad and the Odyssey. A lth ough it is not clear h o w contem poraneous the H esiodic poem s are, they are valuable as specim ens of som e of the other poetry that w as perhaps going from m outh to ear during that time. H esiod describes him self at one point as going overseas from m ainland Boeotia to an island to sing in a com petition, w hich suggests a far broader arena for poetic activity than w h at the reader im agines from reading about D em odocus.
A th en a's contrary advice is the poet's doing, and he had his rea sons; it seems unreasonable to update the inconsistency argum ent and m ake it congruent w ith the oral theory by im agining that the poet during perform ance w as thinking ahead so hard that he inad vertently introduced som e of the suitors' advice from the second book into A th en a's speech. Rather, one m ight expend a little critical go od will and consider that in a legend w ell know n, every conceivable opportunity for suspense or surprise m ust be explored; that in so long a poem som e sort of outline of the plot needs to be offered to the auditor, an outline w hich at the sam e time allow s the poet some freedom to m aneuver.
Finally there remains in the background the tanta lizing fact that the suitors m ay be killed. U pon reading over A th en a's speech anyone can say that its contradictions nullify any em otional impact it m ight have. The poet, h ow ever, has no intention of its being read over; he w ould not even consider repeating it. Each successive step in A th en a's directions m ay contradict, but there is no w a y the auditor can stop the perform ance to go back and check. This speech is an excellent proof for some kind of narrative style that derives from expectations and m akes dem ands quite different from those of a w rit ten text: that is to say, verse creation in perform ance.
Ancient Epic Poetry: Homer, Apollonius, Virgil with a Chapter on the Gilgamesh Poems by Charles Rowan Beye