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Stasinus, of Cyprus, poet  

Martin Litchfield West

Poet sometimes named as author of the Cypria (see epic cycle). *Pindar (fr. 265 S.-M.) already knew the story that *Homer gave Stasinus the poem as a dowry. The tale served to reconcile alternative ascriptions.


Philo Epicus  

Thomas Kuhn-Treichel

Philo Epicus was a Jewish-Hellenistic poet. He composed a hexametric poem on Jerusalem that featured both descriptions of the city and references to biblical events relating to the patriarchs. It is not clear whether he is to be identified with a Philo mentioned by Josephus (Ap. 1.218, with the attribute “the Elder”), Clement of Alexandria (Str. 1.141.3), and Eusebius of Caesarea (Hist. eccl. 6.13.7); while Nikolaus Walter argued for a distinction between the poet and a homonymous, otherwise unknown historian, some recent scholars seek to justify the identification.1 As to the date of his work, scholars have adduced literary, historical, and archaeological arguments to support various periods between the end of the 3rd and the first half of the 1st centuries bce.2 The only undisputable terminus ante quem for his work is the death of Alexander (11) Polyhistor (not long after 40bce), who quoted the poem in his treatise Περὶ Ἰουδαίων.


Colluthus of Lycopolis, fl. c. 490–520 CE  

Laura Miguélez-Cavero

Colluthus (Κόλλουθος) of Lycopolis (modern Asyut, Egypt) is the author of the Abduction of Helen (Ἁρπαγὴ Ἑλένης), an epyllion of 392 lines narrating the events leading to the beginning of the Trojan War, from the wedding of Thetis and Peleus to the arrival of Paris and Helen at Troy. According to the Suda (K 1951), Colluthus was a contemporary of emperor Anastasius (reigned 491–518) and composed a Calydoniaca in six books (probably on the hunt of the Calydonian boar; perhaps celebrating the love of Meleager and Atalanta), verse encomia, and a Persica (most likely a verse encomium on Anastasius, celebrating the end of the war against the Persians in 505). The Suda does not mention the Abduction of Helen, Colluthus’s only extant work, which has been transmitted in a very poor state.1

The Abduction can be divided into three sections. After the initial invocation to the nymphs of the Troad (ll. 1–16), Eris retaliates for not being invited to the wedding of Peleus and Thetis by throwing a golden apple amongst the banqueters, which leads to the contest of Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite, resolved by Paris in favour of the latter (ll. 17–191). Paris then voyages to Sparta and encounters Helen (ll. 192–325). Finally, a desolated Hermione tries to make sense of her mother’s absence (ll. 326–392).


Quintus Smyrnaeus, Greek epic poet, 2nd/3rd century CE  

Silvio Bär

Quintus Smyrnaeus was a poet of the late 2nd or 3rd century ce, the author of the epic poem the Posthomerica (14 books, 8,786 lines), which covers the narrative lacuna between Homer’s Iliad and the Odyssey and thus treats stories that were originally covered by the Epic Cycle. The narrative technique is more episodic and linear than that of the Homeric epics, but it does not lack plot coherence and an overarching design. The language and style is strongly Homericising: vocabulary, syntax, and the use of formulaic phrases resemble that of the Homeric epics to a large degree. At the same time, Quintus’s language is also characterised by Alexandrian traits. In a wider cultural context, Quintus belongs to the same period as the Second Sophistic, and the Posthomerica can be understood as a response to revisionist tendencies against Homer. Scholars debate the question as to whether Quintus still had access to the Epic Cycle and whether he was influenced by Roman authors, especially by Vergil’s Aeneid.


Terentius Varro Atacinus, Publius  

Edward Courtney

Terentius Varro Atacinus, Publius, a poet born in the Atax (Aude) valley in Gallia Narbonensis or at *Narbo itself in 82 bce. Nothing is known of his life except that he learned Greek at the age of thirty-five (Jerome, Chronicle ). The first of his poems was no doubt his Bellum Sequanicum , an historical epic on Caesar's campaign of 58 bce. After he made the acquaintance of Greek literature, he translated *Apollonius (1) Rhodius under the title Argonautae , wrote amatory verse addressed to a “Leucadia” (Prop. 2.34.85; Ov. Tr. 2.439), a name chosen, like “Lesbia,” to recall *Sappho (if this was in elegiacs it was his only work not in hexameters), and composed two didactic works, Chorographia (which seems to show knowledge of Alexander of Ephesus) and Ephemeris (the title is an emendation), a poem on weather forecasting in which he used *Aratus (1) (his version influenced Virgil's treatment of the same topic in G.


Literature and Form in the Renaissance  

Richard Danson Brown

Literature during the Renaissance period was highly conscious of the language of form. Form is at once ambiguous, questionable, and has ramifications for a number of fields, including issues of line, meter, and versification on the one hand and broader questions of genre on the other. The verse line in 16th-century English literature shows in practice the tensions between humanist idealism and vernacular traditions, as writers of different generations struggled to find a form that would best capture the potential of a politically marginal, culturally ambitious, language. The sonnet is considered as a morphic form of enormous influence that shaped thinking and practice throughout Europe, as in texts by Louise Labé, Edmund Spenser, and Anne Locke. The typically Renaissance form of the stanzaic epic showcases another novel form, illustrated by the interlocking stanzas of Edmund Spenser’s Faerie Queene (1590–1596), and the ironic mimicking of that form with difference in Donne’s Metempsychosis (dated 1601 but not published until 1633).



Herbert Tucker

An enumeration of generic qualities will define epic less helpfully than will an assessment of its behaviors. Among major literary kinds, epic offers the most long-standing and globally distributed evidence of the human habit of thinking by means of narrative. What it cherishes is the common good; what it ponders are the behaviors and values that forward or threaten collective welfare. What it reckons are the stakes of heroic risk that any living culture must hazard in order to prosper, by negotiating core identities with margins and adjusting settled customs to emergent opportunities; and it roots all these in the transmission of a tale that commands perennial attention on their account. Such dialectics underlie epic’s favorite narrative templates, the master plots of strife, quest, and foundation; and they find expression in such conventions as the in medias res opening and suspended closure; the epic invocation, ancestral underworld, superhuman machinery, and encyclopedic simile; the genre’s formal gravitation towards verse artifice and the lexical and syntactic mingling of old with new language. The genre steadfastly highlights the human condition and prospect, defining these along a scale of higher and lower being, along a timeline correlating history with prophecy, and along cultural coordinates where the familiar and the exotic take each other’s measure.


Ennius, Quintus, epic and dramatic poet, 239–169 BCE  

Gesine Manuwald

Ennius was the most prolific poet in the early period of Latin literature and is particularly known for his epic and his dramas. He composed plays for public festivals down to the year of his death, a major narrative epic, a large amount of non-dramatic verse, and at least one work in prose. While Ennius’ entire output only survives in fragments, his life and writings are better documented than those of most other early Republican writers, which is partly the result and an indication of his esteem among the Romans.

Ennius was born in 239bce (Cic. Brut. 72; Tusc. 1.3; Gell. NA 17.21.43; Hieron. Ab Abr. 1777 [p. 133a Helm]) in the Calabrian town of Rudiae (Cic. Arch. 22; Hor. Carm. 4.8.20 with Schol. ad loc.; Strab. 6.3.5 [p. 281 C.]; Ov. Ars am. 3.409–410; Mela 2.66) and claimed descent from the legendary king Messapus (Serv. ad Verg. Aen.



Philip Hardie

At the summit of the ancient hierarchy of genres, epic narrates in hexameter verse the deeds of gods, heroes, and men The authority of Homer, the name given to the composer of the Iliad and the Odyssey, ensures that the forms and conventions of the Homeric poems are determinative for the whole of the Greco-Roman tradition of epic. From an early date, the production and reading of epic poems was accompanied by intensive scholarly and critical activity. Over the centuries, numerous epics were written on both legendary and historical subjects, as the genre responded to changing aesthetic and ideological conditions. In Rome, Virgil’s Aeneid successfully established for itself an authority comparable to that of the Homeric poems, and all later Latin epics place themselves within a Virgilian tradition. Epic in Greek and Latin continues to flourish in late antiquity, when Christian writers appropriate its forms to propagate their own messages and praise their own heroes.



Fiachra Mac Góráin, Don P. Fowler, and Peta G. Fowler

Virgil (Publius Vergilius Maro) (70–19 bce) was a Latin poet, already celebrated in his own lifetime, who wrote during the triumviral period and the principate of Augustus. All his poems reflect on contemporary history while engaging with a range of literary traditions from the archaic to the contemporary neoteric. Virgil achieved renown as a poet c. 39–38 bce with the publication of the Eclogues (or Bucolics), which take after Theocritus’s Idylls. He went on to write the Georgics, a didactic poem ostensibly about farming (29 bce), and the Aeneid, a heroic epic in the Homeric manner about the Trojan refugee Aeneas’s flight from Troy and his struggles to found a city that would be the origin of Rome. Several minor poems collected in the Appendix Vergiliana are attributed to Virgil, but were probably not written by him. His work set the standard for Latinity and inspired many later imitators and artistic and critical responses.



Herbert Jennings Rose and Jenny March

Teucer (Τεῦκρος)(1) In mythology, son of the river *Scamander and a nymph Idaea, and ancestor of the Trojan kings. He married his daughter Bateia (or Arisbe) to *Dardanus, and from this marriage was born Erichthonius, father of Tros (Apollod. 3.12, which also gives the later genealogy).(2) Son of *Telamon(1) by *Hesione. Throughout Homer's Iliad he is a valiant archer, and faithful comrade of his half-brother, the greater Ajax (*Aias(1)). His character is similarly depicted in later works, e.g. the Ajax of *Sophocles(1). He was absent at the time of Ajax's suicide (Ajax342–343), but returned (974) in time to take a leading part in the struggle to secure him honourable burial. After his banishment (see telamon(1)) he founded *Salamis (2) in Cyprus (Hor., Odes 1.


Triphiodorus, of Panopolis  

Laura Miguélez-Cavero

Triphiodorus, who originated from Egypt and lived in the 3rd century ce, was an epic poet and teacher of grammar whose only extant work is The Sack of Troy (691 lines, narrating the final events of the Trojan War).Triphiodorus means “gift of Triphis,” a local deity of Panopolis (modern Akhmim) in Upper Egypt, and was a common name in Panopolis itself and all over Upper Egypt. This and the entry of the Suda (T 1111), calling him an Egyptian, have led to the conclusion that he originated from the area of Panopolis. The Suda actually includes two entries under the same name, the first (T 1111) calling him a poet and grammarian (γραμματικὸς καὶ ποιητὴς ἐπῶν) and attributing to him Marathoniaca (Μαραθωνιακά, on the battle of Marathon, or more likely on Theseus and the Marathonian bull, as in Callimachus’ Hecale), The Sack of Troy.



Herbert Jennings Rose and Jenny March

Aias (Αἴας, Lat. Aiax)(1) Son of *Telamon (1), king of *Salamis (1), hence Aias Telamonius, and also known as the Great(er) Ajax. He brought twelve ships from Salamis to Troy (Il. 2.557). In the Iliad he is of enormous (πελώριος) size, head and shoulders above the rest (3.226–229), and the greatest of the Greek warriors after *Achilles (2.768–789). His stock epithet is “bulwark (ἔρκος) of the Achaeans,” and his characteristic weapon a huge shield of seven-fold ox-hide. He clearly has the better of *Hector in a duel (7.181–305) after which the heroes exchange gifts, Aias giving Hector a sword-belt in return for a sword; and he is at his memorable best when with unshakeable courage he defends the Greek wall and then the ships (see especially 15.676–688, 727–746, 16.101–111). He is also a member of the Embassy to Achilles, when he gives a brief but effective appeal to Achilles on friendship's grounds (9.624–642). At *Patroclus's funeral games he draws a wrestling match with *Odysseus, strength against cunning (23.


Soterichus, epic poet, c. 300 CE  

Richard Hunter

Epic poet from Libya; the Suidas lists epics on various mythical and historical subjects and an Encomium of *Diocletian.



Christos Tsagalis

Neoanalysis is a method of interpreting Homeric poetry that aims to discover the sources of the Iliad and the Odyssey. Like the 19th-century analysts, neoanalysts study the genetic aspect of the Homeric poems, but instead of trying to distinguish different layers or versions (Schichtenanalyse), they seek to identify source material from other poems that preceded the received Homeric epics.

The term “neoanalysis,” coined by Kakridis,1 was invented to describe a method of interpreting Homeric epic that responds to the analytical school which dissected the Iliad and Odyssey into smaller epics in order to arrive at the “proto-Iliad” (Urilias) and “proto-Odyssey” (Urodyssee) as the genuine works of Homer. Like the analytical school, neoanalysis locates poetic inconcinnities, gaps, and narrative fissures in the text, but unlike the analytical school it does not explain them as resulting from the work of different poets who added, omitted, and changed entire scenes and episodes. Instead, neoanalysis argues that these supposed problems can be explained by the transfer of motifs (and, to a lesser extent, of phraseology) from pre-Homeric poetry. Whereas, for the analytical school, poetic quality stems solely from Homeric ingenuity, for neoanalysis it results from the highly creative interaction of Homer with earlier epic poetry.



A. Sens

The Batrachomyomachia (BM), the “Battle of Frogs and Mice,” is a mock epic poem of slightly more than 300 dactylic hexameter verses, broadly imitating the language and style of Homer. The poem was widely read as a school text in the Byzantine period. As transmitted in the manuscripts, it contains a number of interpolated verses, and the generally problematic character of the textual tradition complicates the assessment of a number of passages. The work has been variously dated, but it is more likely to be the work of the late Hellenistic period than of the early Classical age, since it contains what appear to be allusions to Moschus’s Europa and Callimachus’s Aetia, and its language shows the influence of Latin. References to the poem in the preface to the Silvae of Statius (1 pr.) and in an epigram of Martial (14.183) provide a terminus ante quem in the last decades of the 1st century ce.



Emily Kneebone

A poet from Apamea in Syria (see Cyn. 2.127), author of the Cynegetica, a Greek didactic poem on hunting in four books (2,144 hexameter verses). The author’s name is lost, and nothing is known of him beyond the information provided in the poem, which was frequently transmitted in manuscripts together with Oppian’s Halieutica and was attributed to the same poet until the 18th century, along with a now-lost Ixeutica (a poem on bird-catching, possibly in two books). The Suda and the Byzantine Vitae attached to the manuscripts conflate the poets. The Cynegetica models itself on the Halieutica in many respects, but was clearly composed by a different author: the two poems refer to different homelands (the author of the Halieutica is from Cilicia), were written at different times (the Halieutica between 177 and 180 ce), and are stylistically distinct. The Cynegetica is addressed to the Roman emperor Caracalla, and is likely to have been composed between 212 and 217 ce, after the deaths of Septimius Severus and Geta in 211.


Livius Andronicus, Lucius, c. 280/270–200 BCE  

Thomas Biggs, Gesine Manuwald, and H. D. Jocelyn

Lucius Livius Andronicus (c. 280/70–200 bce) was a Latin author of probable Greek origin who is credited with initiating the tradition of scripted dramatic performance at Rome and composing the first epic poem in Latin. Andronicus’s life appears to have spanned a large part of the 3rd century bce; the only firmly transmitted date concerns the performance of a hymn to Juno for which he was commissioned during the Second Punic War (207 bce). He is often linked to the year 240 bce, a widely accepted but controversial date for his first staging of Latin plays during the Ludi Romani (“Roman Games”). His translation of the Odyssey was influential, although its initial audience and level of circulation are debated. His works survive exclusively in fragments. Andronicus’s skeletal ancient biography suggests his status as a formerly enslaved person who was trafficked to Rome from Magna Graecia in the aftermath of war. Latin literature’s first author was thus a forcibly displaced migrant for whom Latin was a second or third language. This account may not be wholly accurate, but it aligns with other near-contemporary authorial biographies and various attested trends in Roman sociopolitical and cultural history during the increasingly mobile Middle Republic.


Nonnus, of Panopolis, Greek epic poet, mid-5th c. CE  

Berenice Verhelst

The 5th-century ce Greek poet Nonnus of Panopolis (the modern Akhmim, Upper-Egypt) is known as the author of two poems. The Dionysiaca is the longest extant ancient Greek poem, a mythological epic (48 books, 21,286 lines) about the young god Dionysus. The much shorter Paraphrase of the Gospel of John (3,640 lines) closely follows the structure of its gospel model, but renders its story in Nonnus’ impeccable hexameters and florid language.Apart from the little that can be deduced from his poems (e.g., the references in Dion. 1.13 and 26.238 to the “neighbouring Isle of Pharos” and “my Nile,” which confirm the author’s Egyptian connection), biographical information about the author behind this remarkable oeuvre is scarce. Nonnus is mentioned as the author of the Dionysiaca in the oldest (partial) manuscript (P. 10567 = Π, papyrus of Berlin, 6th century), which at the start of book 15 reads “start of the 15th poem [sic.] of the .


Religion and Humanity in Mesopotamian Myth and Epic  

Louise Pryke

Concepts of religion and humanity form an integral component of Mesopotamian narrative literature, and these ideas are evidenced in the frequent exploration of themes involving mortality and immortality, power and authority, and creation and destruction. Through the use of plot, characterization, literary themes and techniques, and also structure, Mesopotamian myths and epics transmit religious ideas and beliefs, as well as informing on cultural identity and meaning. In both oral and written transmission, storytelling is a powerful medium for exploring ancient theology. Religious ideas are expressed in a wide array of Mesopotamian literary works, and while some features, such as the polytheistic view of the divine hierarchy, remain generally constant, different texts and “genres” show changes in focus and in the perception of the divine and the human. While deities and supernatural creatures have a prominent role in literature, Mesopotamian myth is not only concerned with theistic matters, but also with what it means to be human. It is often observed in modern scholarly works that humans, in the Babylonian Flood narrative of Atrahasis, and the creation myth of Enuma Elish, were born to serve the gods and perform their menial tasks. This is undoubtedly an important observation for the analysis of humanity and religion, yet the presentation of human/divine relations as one of simple subjection gives a misleading and superficial impression of the interaction between the mortal and divine spheres, one that is at odds with the subject’s complexity, variety, and subtlety. Myths and epics provide a multifaceted picture of a number of different types of relationships between gods and humans: even in the narrative of Atrahasis, individual deities interact with humans in different ways; there is no “one size fits all” divine connection in Mesopotamian literature. Despite a rigid hierarchy in favor of the divine, these relationships are frequently close, involving strong emotional bonds. The human/divine connection is not solely beneficial to either party, but reciprocal and often mutually rewarding. At the same time, the relations between humans and deities can be destructive and damaging—with the harm most often depicted to occur on the human side, possibly because of the vulnerability offered by mortality and the lack of supernatural abilities. Humanity is reflected in the anthropomorphic representations of deities and also the sociomorphism of their family-oriented community structure. For heroes of epic literature, the divine connection can be perilous, but also rewarding. The success of heroes in accessing divine support is frequently (but not exclusively) linked to the morality of their actions. Religion and humanity in literature concern not only deities’ interactions with humans, but also how the authors of literature conceptualized and gave meaning to the human condition. It is clear from Mesopotamian literature that close, positive relationships with the divine were important for survival and success during the human lifespan (and even beyond), yet at the same time, the answer to questions of finding meaning in mortal existence is at times presented in very human terms. Love, alongside shared human achievements and experiences, is presented in several literary sources as essential for giving meaning to the human condition.