Old Epic Tone Predates literacy (“illiterate” = misnomer) Mesopotamians and Egyptians became literate early Greece largely non-literate until ca. 750 BC Epic poetry = poetry for non-literate by the non-literate Requires a good “beat” so people can remember it Dactylic hexameter – so called from finger “Made from scratch” every time – lots of improvisation Heavy on the repetition – grates on the ears of the literate Necessary for retaining the characters, plot, etc. About the only type of entertainment back in the day Greeks supposedly learned how to write because of Homer
Elpenor 'The first ghost that came was that of my comrade Elpenor, for he had not yet been laid beneath the earth. We had left his body unwaked and unburied in Circe's house, for we had had too much else to do. I was very sorry for him, and cried when I saw him: 'Elpenor,' said I, 'how did you come down here into this gloom and darkness? You have here on foot quicker than I have with my ship.’ ''Sir,' he answered with a groan, 'it was all bad luck, and my own unspeakable drunkenness. I was lying asleep on the top of Circe's house, and never thought of coming down again by the great staircase but fell right off the roof and broke my neck, so my soul down to the house of Hades.
Odysseus and Anticleia 'Then I tried to find some way of embracing my mother's ghost. Thrice I sprang towards her and tried to clasp her in my arms, but each time she flitted from my embrace as it were a dream or phantom, and being touched to the quick I said to her, 'Mother, why do you not stay still when I would embrace you? If we could throw our arms around one another we might find sad comfort in the sharing of our sorrows even in the house of Hades; does Persephone want to lay a still further load of grief upon me by mocking me with a phantom only?'
New Epic Tone After 800 BC, literacy became far more common Poetry meant more to be read more than listened to Still has the good “beat” But writing forces “completion” on myths and poems They cannot grow and breathe Epic poetry especially becomes pompous and stilted Not meant for Bubbacus and Jethra Meant more to carry a message – begins to mean “long” Perfect for creating a BRAND Vergil falls into this trap Fortunately, Dante does not
Æneas and Anchises “Have you come at last, and has the duty that your father expected vanquished the toilsome way? Is it given me to see your face, my son, and hear and utter familiar tones? Even so I mused and deemed the hour would come, counting the days, nor has my yearning failed me. Over what lands, what wide seas have you journeyed to my welcome! What dangers have beset you, my son! How I feared the realm of Libya might work you harm!” But he answered: “Your shade, father, your sad shade, meeting me repeatedly, drove me to seek these portals. My ships ride the Tuscan sea. Grant me to clasp your hand, grant me, father, and withdraw not from my embrace!” So he spoke, his face wet with flooding tears. Thrice there he strove to throw his arms about his neck; thrice the form, vainly clasped, fled from his hands, even as light winds, and most like a winged dream.
Palinurus Lo! there passed the helmsman, Palinurus, who of late, on the Libyan voyage, while he marked the stars, had fallen from the stern, flung forth in the midst of the waves. Him, when at last amid the deep gloom he knew the sorrowful form, he first accosts thus: “What god, Palinurus, tore you from us and plunged you beneath the open ocean? O tell me! For Apollo, never before found false, with this one answer tricked my soul, for he foretold that you would escape the sea and reach Ausonia’s shores. Is this how he keeps his promise?” But he answered: “Neither did tripod of Phoebus fail you, my captain, Anchises’ son, nor did a god plunge me in the deep.
The Roman Republic Founded April 21, 753 BC by Romulus and Remus Rome = small city on hills overlooking a ford on the Tiber Captured all Italy by 264 BC 100 years = 3 Punic Wars = Carthage as evil empire By 44 BC included Spain, France, Greece, Ancient Egypt Got too big to run with republican Roman institutions Seven civil wars in the first century BC alone! First Triumvirate = Julius Caesar, Pompey, Crassus Rise of the warlord with his client army The Roman world not big enough for all three By 48 BC, Julius Caesar ruled the whole Roman world But how could he rule the whole Roman world well?
The Roman BRAND The old Roman ways are the best ways = mos maiorum Jupiter loves the Romans since he loves the old Roman ways All Romans, male and female, are bad a55e5 Romans kicked their kings out in 509 BC = mos maiorum The Roman Republic founded 509 BC = mos maiorum Republic worked well for running a city-state in 509 BC Roman empire kept getting bigger and bigger Republic kept working less and less well Rise of the warlord with his client army The Roman world not big enough for all three By 48 BC, Julius Caesar ruled the whole Roman world Experimented with making himself king ≠ mos maiorum
How Octavius Saved Rome 44 BC to 31 AD = civil war vs. Second Triumvirate The old Roman ways are the best ways = mos maiorum Jupiter loves the Romans since he loves the old Roman ways Romans kicked their kings out in 509 BC = mos maiorum Julius became a human pincushion in 44 BC = mos maiorum All the power of a monarchy with the façade of a Republic Called it the PRINCIPATE – Octavius is merely the prince PRINCIPATE gave the Roman world 300 years of peace. Octavius rebrands himself as Augustus Caesar Augustus = savior of the mos maiorum Relentless public relations campaigns glorifying Augustus Augustus = greatest Roman ever. Hands down. No kidding.
Rome’s PVBLIC AFFAIRS MISSION Vergil, Æneid 6.847-853 Excudent alii spirantia mollius aera, credo equidem, vivos ducent de marmore voltus, orabunt causas melius, caelique meatus describent radio, et surgentia sidera dicent: tu regere imperio populos, Romane, memento; hae tibi erunt artes; pacisque imponere morem, parcere subiectis, et debellare superbos Others will forge breathing bronzes more smoothly, I believe, and draw forth living features from marble. They will plead law- suits better and trace the sky’s movements with a rod and describe the rising stars. You, Roman, govern the nations with your power- remember this! These will be your arts – to impose the ways of peace, to show mercy to the conquered and to subdue the proud.
Synopsis of the Æneid Books 1-VI = “Odyssey” part. Æneas wanders around the Mediterranean Sea, only dimly aware that he is to found a city which will eventually lead to the founding of Rome. He stops for a while in Carthage (destined to be Rome’s enemy) and has an affair with Queen Dido. Then he has an epiphany and gets sent on his katabasis. Books VII-XII = “Iliad” part. Æneas forms an alliance with nice king Latinus, but falls into a war with evil king Turnus. Much less interesting.
Æneas greets the Sibyl One thing I pray: since here is the famed gate of the nether king, and the gloomy marsh from Acheron’s overflow, be it granted me to pass into my dear father’s sight and presence; show the way and open the hallowed portals! Amid flames and a thousand pursuing spears, I rescued him on these shoulders, and brought him safe from the enemy’s midst. He, the partner of my journey, endured with me all the seas and all the menace of ocean and sky, weak as he was, beyond the strength and portion of age. He is was who prayed and charged me humbly to seek you and draw near to your threshold.
noctes atque dies patet atri ianua ditis “Sprung from blood of gods, son of Trojan Anchises, easy is the descent to Avernus: night and day the door of gloomy Dis stands open; but to recall one’s steps and pass out to the upper air, this is the task, this the toil! Some few, whom kindly Jupiter has loved, or shining worth uplifted to heaven, sons of the gods, have availed. In all the mid-space lie woods, and Cocytus girds it, gliding with murky folds. But if such love is in your heart – if such a yearning, twice to swim the Stygian lake, twice to see black Tartarus – and if you are pleased to give rein to the mad endeavour, hear what must first be done. There lurks in a shady tree a bough, golden leaf and pliant stem, held consecrate to nether Juno [Proserpine]; this all the grove hides, and shadows veil in the dim valleys.