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Epic and History

David Konstan (Editor), Kurt A. Raaflaub (Editor)
ISBN: 978-1-4051-9307-8
456 pages
December 2009, Wiley-Blackwell
Epic and History (1405193077) cover image
With contributions from leading scholars, this is a unique cross-cultural comparison of historical epics across a wide range of cultures and time periods, which presents crucial insights into how history is treated in narrative poetry.
  • The first book to gain new insights into the topic of ‘epic and history’ through in-depth cross-cultural comparisons
  • Covers epic traditions across the globe and across a wide range of time periods
  • Brings together leading specialists in the field, and is edited by two internationally regarded scholars
  • An important reference for scholars and students interested in history and literature across a broad range of disciplines

 

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List of Figures and Tables vii

Notes on Contributors viii

Series Editor’s Preface xiv

1 Introduction 1
David Konstan and Kurt A. Raaflaub

2 Maybe Epic: The Origins and Reception of Sumerian Heroic Poetry 7
Piotr Michalowski

3 Historical Events and the Process of Their Transformation in Akkadian Heroic Traditions 26
Joan Goodnick Westenholz

4 Epic and History in Hittite Anatolia: In Search of a Local Hero 51
Amir Gilan

5 Manly Deeds: Hittite Admonitory History and Eastern Mediterranean Didactic Epic 66
Mary R. Bachvarova

6 Epic and History in the Hebrew Bible: Definitions, “Ethnic Genres,” and the Challenges of Cultural Identity
in the Biblical Book of Judges 86
Susan Niditch

7 No Contest between Memory and Invention: The Invention of the Pa08ava Heroes of the MahAbhArata 103
James L. Fitzgerald

8 From “Imperishable Glory” to History: The Iliad and the Trojan War 122
Jonas Grethlein

9 Historical Narrative in Archaic and Early Classical Greek Elegy 145
Ewen Bowie

10 Fact, Fiction, and Form in Early Roman Epic 167
Sander M. Goldberg

11 The Song and the Sword: Silius’s Punica and the Crisis of Early Imperial Epic 185
Raymond D. Marks

12 The Burden of Mortality: Alexander and the Dead in Persian Epic and Beyond 212
Olga M. Davidson

13 Slavic Epic: Past Tales and Present Myths 223
Susana Torres Prieto

14 Historicity and Anachronism in Beowulf 243
Geoffrey Russom

15 The Nibelungenlied – Myth and History: A Middle High German Epic Poem at the Crossroads of Past and Present, Despair and Hope 262
Albrecht Classen

16 Medieval Epic and History in the Romance Literatures 280
Joseph J. Duggan

17 Roland’s Migration from Anglo-Norman Epic to Royal French Chronicle History 293
Michel-André Bossy

18 A Recurrent Theme of the Spanish Medieval Epic: Complaints and Laments by Noble Women 310
Mercedes Vaquero

19 History in Medieval Scandinavian Heroic Literature and the Northwest European Context 328
Robert D. Fulk

20 Traditional History in South Slavic Oral Epic 347
John Miles Foley

21 Lord Five Thunder and the 12 Eagles and Jaguars of Rabinal Meet Charlemagne and the 12 Knights of France 362
Dennis Tedlock

22 History, Myth, and Social Function in Southern African Nguni Praise Poetry 381
Richard Whitaker

23 Epic and History in the Arabic Tradition 392
Dwight F. Reynolds

24 Comments on “Epic and History” 411
Dean Miller

Index 425

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David Konstan is the John Rowe Workman Distinguished Professor of Classics and the Humanistic Tradition at Brown University; he is also a Professor in Comparative Literature, and a member of the Graduate Faculty of Theatre Arts and Performance Studies. He is the author of Roman Comedy (1983); Sexual Symmetry (1994); Greek Comedy and Ideology (1995); Friendship in the Classical World (1997); Pity Transformed (2001); The Emotions of the Ancient Greeks (2006); Terms for Eternity: Aiônios and aïdios in Classical and Christian Texts, (with Ilaria Ramelli, 2007); and A Life Worthy of the Gods: The Materialist Psychology of Epicurus (2008).

Kurt A. Raaflaub is David Herlihy University Professor, and Professor of Classics and History at Brown University. His numerous publications include The Discovery of Freedom in Ancient Greece (2004) and Origins of Democracy in Ancient Greece (2007, co-authored with Josiah Ober and Robert Wallace). He is also the editor of Social Struggles in Archaic Rome (Blackwell, 2005), and War and Peace in the Ancient World (Blackwell, 2007), and co-editor of Democracy, Empire, and the Arts in Fifth-Century Athens (1998), War and Society in the Ancient and Medieval Worlds (1999), A Companion to Archaic Greece (Wiley-Blackwell, 2009), and Geography and Ethnography: Perspectives of the World in Premodern Societies (Wiley-Blackwell, 2010).

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  • The first book to gain new insights into the topic of ‘epic and history’ through in-depth cross-cultural comparisons
  • Covers epic traditions across the globe and across a wide range of time periods
  • Brings together leading specialists in the field, and is edited by two internationally regarded scholars
  • An important reference for scholars and students interested in history and literature across a broad range of disciplines
See More
"The reader will surely find useful and insightful comparative material in all the essays." (Bryn Mawr Classical Review, February 2011)

"I would recommend this volume both for scholars of epic and heroic literature (especially if they have interests in comparative literature or in questions of orality and historicity), who will no doubt enjoy its generally succinct essays with pertinent bibliography for each tradition." (Bmcreview, 9 February 2011)

"Essential. Graduate students and researches." (Choice, October 2010)

"A remarkably wide-ranging collection, deeply learned, ecumenical in spirit, and diverse in its approaches."
Martin Mueller, Northwestern University

“This book is an ‘epic’ undertaking in its own right, extending across four millennia in time, and most of the globe in setting.  The challenging mosaic of studies takes shape as an exploratory chart of how memory, story-telling and the desire for heroes may relate to what we might want to call ‘History’”.
Oliver Taplin, Magdalen College, Oxford University  

“Answers come and go. Questions persist. One of the many virtues of this volume of collected essays is its ability to re-open some fundamental discussions about epic, history, genre, and memory. It does so in a sophisiticated, learned, and wide ranging manner. This book problematizes the relationships between literary form, fact, and tradition in a way that will inform and excite scholars in many fields for many years.”
Ahuvia Kahane, Royal Holloway, University of London

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