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Week 10 - Between Homer and Virgil

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Timothy Perry

Lecture #9 Page1 Week Ten - Between Homer and Virgil Monday, March 08, 2010 The Aeneid • o Aeneid was written by Virgil in 20s BC o Left the poem incomplete when he died in 9 BC • The 700 Year Gap between Homer and Virgil o Epic Cycle • Thirteen poems dealing with:  Divine myth • 2 poems dealt with divine myth • Including a theogony (a very different version than Hesiod's) • Doesn't survive because Hesiod's Theogony established itself earlier on as the standard theogony • Also have an account of the battle between the gods and the titans (intergenerational conflict)  The Theban war • 3 poems concerning this war of the 7 heroes against Thebes • The Theban War is the other great war of Greek myth • Including the build-up of the Theban war including Oedipus and his family  The Trojan War • Remember: the Iliad and Odyssey only cover a fraction of Greek myth, only a fraction of the Trojan War in fact • BUT they are two of the thirteen poems that make up the cycle(other 11 fill in everything else) • We have lost almost completely these other 11 • Have 8 poems about this war • This war got most of the attention in this epic cycle • Other 6 fill in the rest of the story that is not dealt with in the Iliad and Odyssey • Get the build-up to the Trojan War, events after the death of Hector including the death of Achilles, the Fall of Troy, the return of various heroes, poem that deals with the aftermath of the Odyssey as well called the Telegony • Know most about these poems than the others from the Theban War and Divine Myth • Have prose and summaries of six (have the entire version of the Iliad and Odyssey) • Not composed as a cycle  Several epics were strung together to become the "Epic Cycle", formed into a cycle several hundred years later during the Hellenistic Period  Debate as to which poems SHOULD be included in this cycle as most don't survive  Deal with a whole range of events • From the creation of the world to the end of the Heroic Age • Didn't cover everything in Greek myth but did cover the very important narratives • Overlap?  Don't fit together perfectly  Is a certain amount of overlap between the poems e.g.) two of Trojan War poems describe the Fall of Troy Authorship • Lecture #9 Page2  Authorship is problematic, two of the poems, however, we attributed to Homer • Thebais and Cypria are sometimes attributed to Homer likely because by reputation these two were the best of the poems in the epic cycle  Most are attributed to much more obscure poets • Know about the lost 11 poems because they are mentioned by later authors and to a certain extent what was in them  In some sources we have a few quotations of these lost epics • Date  Later than Homeric epic • Still from the early Archaic Period  Still very much part of the oral tradition  May have been composed more under the influence of writing BUT they should be regarded as oral traditions o Homeric Hymns • Date  Contemporary with the Epic Cycle and possibly with the Iliad and Odyssey, many are from a little later  Production of the Archaic Period (everything up to the Persian Invasion is the Archaic) • 33 survive, there were likely more  Most are quite short, no more than invocations of a particular god except for 4 • Are Hymns to various gods • Four contain extended narratives of over 100 lines:  Hymn to Demeter
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