A Companion to Ancient Epic. Oxford: Blackwell. Rpt. 2008.
A collection of 42 essays meant to provide assistance to readers of ancient Near Eastern, Greek, and Roman epic. The essays of Part I (“Issues and Perspectives”) address the larger concerns and approaches toward ancient epic more generally through discussions of epic as genre; the Indo-European context for ancient epic; the relation of ancient epic to myth, performance, history, and archaeology; epic heroes, gods, and women; the textualization, reception, and translation of ancient epic; and modern oral analogues. Part II is then devoted to exploring Near Eastern epic, with contributions focusing on Mesopotamian, Ugaritic, Hittite and Hurrian, Persian/Iranian, and Israelite epic. Part III then moves on to Greek epic, beginning with its Near Eastern connections and then discussing Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey (as well as their post-classical legacies), Hesiod, the epic cycle, Apollonius of Rhodes, Quintus of Smyrna, Nonnus, and the relation of epic to other genres in the Greek world. Part IV then closes out the volume by first discussing the origins of Roman epic and its defining characteristics, then proceeding chronologically from the early Republican period to Lucretius, Virgil, Ovid, Lucan, Valerius Flaccus, Statius, Silius Italicus, Claudian, and the Latin Christian epics of late antiquity, and concluding with discussions of epic’s position with respect to other Roman genres and a final overview of Virgil’s post-classical legacy. The 42 individual contributions, then, provide not only individualized treatments of specific topics, but work together to form a comprehensive volume dedicated to understanding epic in the ancient world. (A brief introduction by Foley is also included at the beginning of the Companion.)