Inconsistency in Roman Epic

Inconsistency in Roman Epic

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How should we react as readers and as critics when two passages in a literary work contradict one another? Classicists once assumed that all inconsistencies in ancient texts needed to be amended, explained away, or lamented. Building on recent work on both Greek and Roman authors, this book explores the possibility of interpreting inconsistencies in Roman epic. After a chapter surveying Greek background material including Homer, tragedy, Plato and the Alexandrians, five chapters argue that comparative study of the literary use of inconsistencies can shed light on major problems in Catullus' Peleus and Thetis, Lucretius' De Rerum Natura, Vergil's Aeneid, Ovid's Metamorphoses, and Lucan's Bellum Civile. Not all inconsistencies can or should be interpreted thematically, but numerous details in these poems, and some ancient and modern theorists, suggest that we can be better readers if we consider how inconsistencies may be functioning in Greek and Roman texts.As Mackie notes, a€œit is difficult to see how Vergil could have created more gaping inconsistencies without actually intending to do so. ... way in which Vergil provides different answers to the most fundamental question about the underworld: what happens to human beings when we die? ... of work to do so; the impression that successive passages make on the reader is one of considerable inconsistency.

Title:Inconsistency in Roman Epic
Author:James J. O'Hara
Publisher:Cambridge University Press - 2007-04-19


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