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The Trojan Epic: Posthomerica (Johns Hopkins New Translations from Antiquity) Hardcover – 29 Dec 2004
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"Provides a vivid retelling of events associated with the Trojan War subsequent to those outlined in the Iliad, but before those of the Odyssey―a very attractive way of learning about a wide range of the details associated with this most famous of all mythological legends. Dr. James is one of half a dozen of the most accomplished scholars of late Greek poetry in the world. It is especially gratifying to discover that his skill as a translator matches that of his skill as a scholar."(Peter Toohey, University of Calgary, Alberta)
"James's accessible, lively rendition of Quintus's poem deserves to alter the face of ancient epic studies... He fuses a flexible and nuanced form of the ancient hexameter rhythm with contemporary idiom. His Posthomerica includes a superb introduction, lucid commentary, bibliography, index of the occurrence of proper names, and summaries of the action of each Book... A landmark publication."(Edith Hall Times Literary Supplement)
"Amazingly, the first full-scale introduction to Quintus and his poem in English."(Martijn Cuypers Bryn Mawr Classical Review)
"This third-century CE poem―which deals with the events surrounding Homer's Iliad and Odyssey―has been unfairly neglected and even denigrated by scholars more familiar with the Homeric epics. James attempts to rectify this situation in this comprehensive book."(Choice)
"Provides an excellent and accessible introduction, translation, and commentary for this neglected epic."(Jean Alvares Classical Outlook)
"Through J.'s industry and scholarship Quintus is served well in this volume, which will generate interest in the Trojan Epic and pave the way for a much-needed literary reappraisal."(Katerina Carvounis Journal of Hellenic Studies)
"Posthomerica clearly aims to be a work of scholarship."(Robert Schmiel Mouseion: Journal of Classical Association of Canada)
A vivid and entertaining story in its own right, the Trojan Epic is also particularly significant for what it reveals about its sources - the much older, now lost Greek epics about the Trojan War known collectively as the Epic Cycle. Written in the Homeric era, these poems recounted events not included in the Iliad or the Odyssey. As Alan James makes clear in this vibrant and faithful new translation, Quintus's work deserves attention for its literary-historical importance and its narrative power. James's line-by-line verse translation in English reveals the original as an exciting and eloquent tale of gods and heroes, bravery and cunning, hubris and brutality. James includes a substantial introduction, a detailed and annotated book-by-book summary of the epic, a commentary dealing mainly with sources, and an explanatory index of proper names. Brilliantly revitalized by James, the Trojan Epic will appeal to a wide range of readers interested in Greek mythology and the legend of Troy.See all Product description
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Wait no more. Quintus of Smyrna, who lived several centuries later than Homer and his contemporaries, put together an epic poem based on who-knows-what manuscripts that have not survived. Alan James and the Johns Hopkins University Press have published a sweet volume with the text of the epic, and a lengthy commentary section that proves quite useful. Quintus has a habit of using epithets of characters rather than their given names, so if you aren't sure which goddess "Tritogenia" is, it's possible to refer to the commentary as if it were endnotes and figure out the majority of references. (Tritogenia, "thrice-born," is Athena.)
So what do we get as the content of the epic? A battle-axe-wielding Amazon. An Ethiopian demigod born of the rosy Dawn. The madness of Great Ajax. Heracles' son killing scores of Greeks (including their doctor!) before facing Achilles' son who has come to avenge his father. Philoctetes, Heracles' ally, wounding Paris with an arrow dipped in the blood of the Hydra, and Paris's attempt to reconcile with his former lover Oenone before the poison works. The horse gambit (complete with a bizarre appearance by two sea serpents that roam right into town to eat Laocoon's kids… really, they couldn't have done that on the beach?). Lastly, it's got the sack of Troy and Aeneas's escape before one final word from Athena to Lesser Ajax, communicated via thunderbolt.
So for content, this volume delivers. The only story I can think of from this period of the war that the Posthomerica doesn't have in detail is the theft of the Palladium. Obviously, that's no fault of the translator. As for whether the poetics carry the same heft as Homer… probably not. There's only fourteen books, not twenty-four, and one can feel the difference. Deaths are more sudden; stories of heroic angst less rich in detail. Deiphobos claiming Helen just before the fall of the city is barely a footnote. But in keeping with the spirit of the subject matter, I suggest the mythology buffs fall upon this book as wolves fall upon the sheep-fold, their jaws drawing blood while the shepherd, tired from day-long toil, sleeps in his bed, unaware of the violent work that…
...uh, sorry. Got carried away. But if you don't mind a lot of extended similes like that, the Posthomerica is the volume for you.