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books, Greek and Roman  

H. Maehler

Books existed in *Egypt long before they came into use in Greece. Systems of writing had been invented and developed for administrative purposes in both Egypt and *Mesopotamia by c.3000 bce. While ... More


J. H. D. Scourfield

Online publication date:
Dec 2015
The practice of offering words of consolation to those afflicted by grief is reflected in the earliest Greek poetry (e.g. Hom. Il. 24. 507–51). Later, under the twin influences of rhetoric and ... More


Philip Hardie

Online publication date:
Dec 2015
The purely metrical ancient definition of epic, or ἔπος, ἔπη (lit. ‘word’, ‘words’), as verse in successive hexameters includes such works as *Hesiod's didactic poems and the philosophical poems of ... More


Edward Courtney and Gail Trimble

Online publication date:
Mar 2016
Epyllion (diminutive of epos), term applied in modern (not ancient) times to some ‘short epics’, hexameter poems of mythological narrative in not more than one book. The texts most ... More

explanation, historical  

Christopher Pelling

‘Which of the gods was it that brought the two together in strife?’, asks the Iliad as it launches its narrative (1.8); early in the Odyssey*Zeus complains that mortals blame the gods when ... More


Francisco R. Adrados and Niklas Holzberg

Online publication date:
Mar 2016
Fable, a short story in the popular tradition of Greece and other ancient cultures. Fables found their way into literature as illustrative examples; later they were compiled into ... More

feminism and ancient literature  

Helen Morales

Online publication date:
Feb 2019
Feminism does not refer to one coherent theory, doctrine, or political movement. The range of movements and ideologies that thrive under the term feminism, however, are all committed to ... More


William Hansen

Folktales are traditional fictional stories. Unlike works of original literary fiction, they are normally anonymous narratives that have been transmitted from one teller to another over an ... More

friendship, ritualized  

G. Herman

Online publication date:
Dec 2015
Friendship, ritualized (or guest-friendship), a bond of trust, imitating kinship and reinforced by rituals, generating affection and obligations between individuals belonging to separate social ... More


Gian Biagio Conte and Glenn W. Most

Online publication date:
Dec 2015
A grouping of texts related within the system of literature by their sharing recognizably functionalized features of form and content. Theory of genre as such is quite lacking in antiquity ... More