The Epic Cycle

The Epic Cycle : A Commentary on the Lost Troy Epics

By (author) M. L. West

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The Iliad and Odyssey do not cover the main story of the Trojan War. The whole saga, which includes Zeus' plan to reduce the world's population, the Judgment of Paris and seduction of Helen, the start of the campaign, the Wooden Horse, the fall of Achilles, the homecoming of Agamemnon, and the eventual death of Odysseus, was related in six other epics, dating from 630-560 BCE, that were influential for lyric poets, tragedians, and artists of the classical age but are known to us only through fragments and brief prose summaries. In this book Martin West presents all the source material and provides the first comprehensive commentary on it, making full use of iconographic as well as literary evidence. Discussing the individual fragments and testimonia, he endeavours to reconstruct the connections between them, so far as possible, and to build up a picture of the plan and course of each poem. In a substantial introduction he addresses general issues, including the nature and formation of the Epic Cycle, the status of the summaries of the Troy epics preserved under the name of Proclus, the validity of the attested ascriptions to particular poets, the reflexes of the Cycle in early art and literature, and its fortunes in and after the Hellenistic period.

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  • Hardback | 352 pages
  • 146 x 218 x 28mm | 579.99g
  • 19 May 2013
  • Oxford University Press
  • Oxford
  • English
  • 3 in-text illustrations
  • 0199662258
  • 9780199662258
  • 211,901

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Author Information

The late Martin West was a Fellow and Praelector at University College, Oxford, from 1963 to 1974, then Professor of Greek at Bedford and Royal Holloway Colleges London till 1991, and a Senior Research Fellow at All Souls College Oxford from 1991 to 2004.

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Review quote

rich and valuable work ... Students and scholars will derive great benefit from West's labours, for his convenient collection and analysis of the ancient source material for the Cycle (e.g., attestations in literature and art), as much as for his wide-ranging and coherent treatment of the Cycle overall. English readers could hardly ask for a better synoptic analysis of the endlessly fascinating remains of this corpus of poetry, which will form the basis for future discussions of the Cycle for decades to come. Patrick O'Sullivan, Bryn Mawr Classical Review

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