The Madness of Epic: Reading Insanity from Homer to Statius by Debra Hershkowitz

The Madness of Epic: Reading Insanity from Homer to Statius

byDebra Hershkowitz

Hardcover | June 1, 1998

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Madness plays a vital role in many ancient epics: not only do characters go mad, but madness also often occupies a central thematic position in the texts. In this book, Debra Hershkowitz examines from a variety of theoretical angles the representation and poetic function of madness in Greekand Latin epic from Homer through the Flavians, including individual chapters devoted to the Iliad and Odyssey, Virgil's Aeneid, Ovid's Metamorphoses, Lucan's Bellum Civile, and Statius' Thebaid. The study also addresses the difficulty of defining madness, and discusses how each epic explores thisproblem in a different way, finding its own unique way of conceptualizing madness. Epic madness interacts with ancient models of madness, but also, even more importantly, with previous representations of madness in the literary tradition. Likewise, the reader's response to epic madness isinfluenced by both ancient and modern views of madness, as well as by an awareness of intertextuality.

About The Author

Debra Hershkowitz is at Christ Church College, Oxford.

Details & Specs

Title:The Madness of Epic: Reading Insanity from Homer to StatiusFormat:HardcoverPublished:June 1, 1998Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0198152450

ISBN - 13:9780198152453

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`H.'s treatment of the developing overlap between Juno and Jupiter, as the goddess's desires and designs gradually merge with those of her husband, helps further our understanding of Virgil's purposes in Book 12... her finest pages are devoted to Statius. She traces the alternation betweenmadness and exhaustion that helps structure the Thebaid and the very excessiveness which, in several senses, marks the poem as the ne plus ultra of Classical epic.'Michael C.J. Putnam. Journal of Roman Studies LXXXIX 1999.