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Homeric Hymns: WITH Homeric Apocrypha AND Lives of Homer (Loeb Classical Library) [Hardcover]

Martin L West
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

18 Mar 2003 Loeb Classical Library (Book 496)
Performances of Greek epics customarily began with a hymn to a god or goddess - as Hesiod's "Theogony" and "Works and Days" do. A collection of 33 such poems has come down to us from antiquity under the title "Hymns of Homer". This volume contains, in addition to the hymns, fragments of five comic poems that were connected with Homer's name in or just after the Classical period (but are not today believed to be by the author of the "Iliad" or the "Odyssey"). Here too is a collection of ancient accounts of the poet's life. The hymns range widely in length: two are over 500 lines long; several run only a half-dozen lines. Among the longest are the hymn To Demeter, which tells the foundational story of the Eleusinian Mysters, and To Hermes, distinctive in being amusing. The comic poems gathered as Homeric apocrypha include "Margites", the "Battle of Frogs and Mice" and a fragment of a perhaps earlier poem of the same type called "Battle of the Weasel and the Mice". The edition of Lives of Homer contains "The Contest of Homer and Hesiod" and nine other biographical accounts.

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Homeric Hymns: WITH Homeric Apocrypha AND Lives of Homer (Loeb Classical Library) + Hesiod: Theogony, Works and Days, Testimonia: v. 1 (Loeb Classical Library) + Hesiod: The Shield Catalogue of Women, Other Fragments: v. 2 (Loeb Classical Library): 2 (Loeb Classical Library)
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Loeb; New edition edition (18 Mar 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674996062
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674996069
  • Product Dimensions: 17.4 x 11.1 x 2.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 454,194 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


...scholars and students of Greek religion and mythology will use this volume as a primary resource. -- TLS, 20 August 2004

About the Author

MARTIN L. WEST is Senior Research Fellow, All Souls College, Oxford.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Translators only, please. 15 Nov 2006
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
In this review I focus on the Homeric Hymns only. Athanassakis (1970) says' `poetry is untranslatable', and here West provides in that manner an accurate word-for-word translation of the left-page Greek verse to right-page English prose. This edition, with its slight introduction and negligible footnotes or endnotes, is made purely for the student learning Greek and looking for support along the way. Those with a lay interest will turn to Rayor (2004) or Crudden (2001).

West's introduction pauses briefly to consider the hymn-genre and its purpose, consigning them to prelude-status only. On authorship he maintains the `Homeridai' purposefully remained anonymous, considering themselves inheritors only, but then (surprisingly) names individual authors for Apollo (3) and Ares (8) as well as relatively precise dates for each hymn, given with their summary. His summary for the Hymn to Apollo (3) is a good example of the present babel-nature of work in this field; he dates the Pythian half older than the Delian and provides an interesting account of Polycrates' possible influence in usurping the older and having it lengthened to include references to Hera, the patron-goddess of Samos, and his own Delian festival to Apollo. This account is found nowhere in the other three recent popular translations, or in Clay's intelligent Politics of Olympus.

For those already acquainted with the hymns, the extra material afforded by West's close study makes tantalising reading. The Hymn to Dionysus (1), informed by a previously unpublished papyrus, is lengthened to include an account, heavily reconstructed, of Zeus' plans to send Ares and Dionysus to reconcile Hephaistus to Hera, which is completely absent in other editions.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hymns from 'Homer' 27 Feb 2011
This Loeb collection of the Homeric Hymns and other writings connected, more or less loosely, with Homer is very welcome. The translation by Martin L. West reads well and makes the poems accessible. As always with the Loeb library, the translation faces the original Greek text. There are some gems here - the Hymn to Hermes, for one, is delightful, a comic and irreverent take on Greek mythology and the Olympian Gods, really refreshing. The hymns to Apollo and Demeter are also impressive. Well worth the Loeb's always reasonable price.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Edition 19 May 2011
By Raul
The hymns and fragments here collected are just amazing. And much value is added to this volume with the testimonies on Homer by other historians from old times which are very interesting to read.
This needs to be in your collection, I strongly recommend it.
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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
35 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ian Myles Slater on A Welcome Expansion 1 Oct 2003
By Ian M. Slater - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Back in 1914, the Loeb Classical Library issued, as volume 57 of the series, "Hesiod, The Homeric Hymns and Homerica," edited and translated by Hugh G. Evelyn-White. A revised and expanded edition of 1920 included a substantial appendix of newly published fragments from Greek papyri; this appendix received a further supplement in 1936, edited and translated by D.L. Page. The volume was reprinted at intervals thereafter (my copy is from 1967), but without updating.

Now Martin L. West, already known for his editions and translations of Hesiod and the early lyric poets, not to mention a recent edtion of the "Iliad," has re-edited and re-translated part of the material as a new Loeb volume, "Homeric Hymns, Homeric Apocrypha, Lives of Homer." He offers it as the first part of a three-volume replacement for the Evelyn-White edition.

Although modern text editions (with very nice ZephGreek type) and better translations are welcome, one's first response is a grimace at buying three new books to replace a single old one. A closer look shows that this is really a good idea after all.

The Homeric Hymns (to the major Olympians, and some minor gods, in Homeric hexameters) are presented with superior textual readings, incorporating almost a century of additional research, and some of West's own suggestions. The prose translations are far easier going than their predecessor in the old Loeb editon, without being excessively colloquial. [I have now discussed the Hymns in more detail in reviews of three translations, by Athanassakis, Cashford, and Rayor.]

To the standard comic "Apocrypha," the poems "Margites" (references and fragments on the adventures of a fool, a sort of anti-Odyssey), "Cercopes" (ape-like opponents of Herakles, references only), and "The Battle of the Frogs and Mice" (references and fragments; a mock-Iliad) are added references and possible quotations for "Epikichlides" (a mock-erotic piece), and "The Battle of the Weasel and the Mice." This last is a fragment from papyri, first published in 1983; although nowhere attributed to Homer, it, or something very like, is clearly alluded to in the "canonical" "Frogs and Mice."

Then comes the big change, concentrated in the final section. A modern edition of the story of "The Contest of Homer and Hesiod" is supplemented by important additions not found in Evelyn-White's volume. In place of his collection of pseudo-Homeric "Epigrams," we get them in their literary context, the "On Homer's Origins, Date, and Life," which tries to pass itself off as a work by Herodotus. This survey of traditions and fictions is followed by the other ancient "Lives" of Homer, including the excerpts and summaries found in medieval Greek writers. These works, often alluded to, have not been available in English before (and in fact most have not been all that easy to find in Greek, either). Some of them are amusing, and all illustrate that the genre of "celebrity biography" is very old, and has never let a lack of facts get in the way.

Finally, there are two indexes, one to the Hymns and Apocrypha, the other to "Lives".

Similar expansions are promised for the Hesiodic material (Theogony, Works and Days, Shield of Herakles, and numerous fragments) [still forthcoming], and the summaries and fragments of the Epic Cycle (the other stories of the Trojan War, and the Wars with Thebes) [now published]. Despite the expense, I look forward to them.

[Note: taking another look at this review, I find that I either omitted, or at some point deleted, mention of the interesting treatment of the volume by R. Scott Garner, in the on-line "Bryn Mawr Classical Review" (written and edited by professional classicists, although the contents are -- mostly -- intended to be accessible to serious lay readers.) Garner raises a number of specific objections, but concludes that "on the whole this is a volume that is quite worthy of one of the top individuals working in the field today and a welcome addition to the Loeb Classical Library in general."]
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent edition 22 July 2005
By rjones2818 - Published on Amazon.com
The Homeric Hymns are, in general, not easy to come by in bookstores. This Loeb edition is an very readable translations of the various hymns attributed to Homer. Since this is a Loeb edition, the Greek is on the left hand side and the English is on the right hand side. I keep this by my bedside for those times when I feel a need to read about the Gods and their exploits, and it a pleasure to read. The Greek also allows you, if you are feeling adventerous, to work on your own translating skills. My copy is well put together, as well as are my other Loebs, and the price can't be beaten.

All-in-all, a very good and readable edition.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loeb edition of Homeric Hymns. ML West Translation 6 Jan 2012
By stephen liem - Published on Amazon.com
Excellent translation by ML West. Contain many stories about various Gods, including Hermes, Aphrodite, Apollo, etc. This book can be a useful companion to Hesiod Theogony. Note that this is the second edition published in 2003, the first edition was from 1914.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fills in some of mystery of Homer and the Epic Cycle 7 Aug 2011
By E. G. E. Bs - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
These are the fragments of the Trojan Cycle which fascinated so many of the ancient and medieval authors. They seemed obsessed with these tantalizations. Read this and you will discover why.
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