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Ancient Epic

ISBN: 978-1-118-25534-6
218 pages
February 2012, Wiley-Blackwell
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Ancient Epic offers a comprehensive and accessible introduction to six of the greatest ancient epics – Homer's Iliad and Odyssey, Vergil's Aeneid, Ovid's Metamorphoses, and Apollonius of Rhodes' Agonautica.
  • Provides an accessible introduction to the ancient epic
  • Offers interpretive analyses of poems within a comprehensive historical context
  • Includes a detailed timeline, suggestions for further readings, and an appendix of the Olympian gods and their Akkadian counterparts
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Chronologies viii

Map x

Introduction 1

1 The Epic of Gilgamesh 14

2 The Context of Homeric Epic 33

3 The Iliad 52

4 The Odyssey 81

5 The Argonautika of Apollonios of Rhodes 106

6 The Context of Roman Epic 125

7 The Aeneid of Virgil 143

8 The Metamorphoses of Ovid 172

Appendix: Chart of Olympian Gods and their Akkadian Counterparts 189

Glossary of Greek and Latin terms 192

Index 193

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Katherine Callen King is Professor of Classics and Comparative Literature at the University of California, Los Angeles.
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  • Provides an accessible introduction to the ancient epic
  • Discusses six major epics across the Homeric and Roman traditions: The Epic of Gilgamesh, Homer's Iliad and Odyssey, Vergil's Aeneid, Ovid's Metamorphoses, and Apollonius of Rhodes's Agonautica
  • Offers interpretive analyses of poems within a comprehensive historical context
  • Includes a detailed timeline, suggestions for further readings, and an appendix of the Olympian gods and their Akkadian counterparts
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"[King] also draws connections between the works so the reader can see the epics in the context of their genre and historical period." (CHOICE, February 2010) “Provides a comprehensive idea [of] ancient epic, showing how this literary genre is not only an invaluable cultural asset in itself, but the bearer of messages and values far remote or dead … .The brilliant and dense general introduction identifies the preliminary concepts necessary to address the overall theme of the book … .Truly admirable consistency [and] effort [for] a topic so broad and multifaceted. The fact that the text is addressed to an audience of non-specialists … does not reduce … the scope and importance: on the contrary. Ancient Epic is the result of a well-calibrated balance between methodological rigor [and] accuracy of content … .This volume, which deserves to be considered among the best introductions to ancient epic appeared in recent years, has all the characteristics to … fascinate a very wide number of readers (not necessarily native English speakers) who want to know epic poetry.” (Bryn Mawr Classical Review, February 2010)

"If you already enjoy the Classical epics, you should read this to challenge your assumptions. If you aren't familiar with Classical epic, you should read this to learn about the topic. Ancient Epic straddles beautifully the need to provide value for people who have already read the epics and the needs of a reader unacquainted with the genre." (N.S. Gill, About.com)

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