Homer by Jasper Griffin

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Purchase of this book includes free trial access to www.million-books.com where you can read more than a million books for free. This is an OCR edition with typos. Excerpt from book: with a charm so skilful that the illusion is not broken1. Aristotle's remarks on Homer bring out the singularity in the history of Greek poetry, that it begins with masterpieces. He regards Homer as at once the earliest of poets and the most finished of epic artists. This estimate is subject, indeed, to one qualification. Aristotle apparently regarded the length of the Homeric epics as somewhat too great for the ideal of epic symmetry. At the outset it is necessary that the reader should have clearly before his mind the general type of structure exhibited by each of the two epics. The subjoined sketch will serve to show this, while in details it will be found convenient for subsequent reference. 5. The Iliad owes its unity, not to the person of Structure Achilles,but to his wrath. His withdrawal from the Greek host leaves Greek heroism more nearly on a level with Trojan, and so admits of the battle-scenes which describe a doubtful war. Hence the framework of the poem is necessarily elastic. As a help to the memory, the story of the Iliad may be 1 Poet. i ScSlSaxc Si /idXiora "0juijpos Ko! roin AXous ij/ctiSeiv ('to feign") us Sei. Aristotle instances Ro, iv '0Suffffeia aXoya ra irepl rrjv (KBeffiv, — the account of the landing of Odysseus in Ithaca, — where the Homeric charm disguises the improbability (ro!s iJXXo ayaBois dipavlfa I'/Siviilv rO iLrOirOv). 2 After mentioning the several requirements of epic poetry, he says — ols aViurcr'O/iijpos Kixpyrai Kal irpaJros Kal Iko.vw (Poet. 24). 3 Poet. c. 24, with Twining's note (vol. II. p. 331). The limit of due length for an epic is that it should be possible for us to ' comprehend the beginning and the end in one view.' This means, to read, or hear, the whole epic, without discomfort, in one day, — as is shown by t...
 

About Jasper Griffin

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Jasper Griffin is professor of Classical Literature in the University of Oxford and Fellow of Balliol College.
 
Published January 1, 1980 by Oxford Univ Pr (Trade).
Genres: Literature & Fiction, History, Education & Reference, Arts & Photography, Professional & Technical, Biographies & Memoirs. Non-fiction