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Achilles beside Gilgamesh

Achilles beside Gilgamesh
Mortality and Wisdom in Early Epic Poetry

  • Publication planned for: December 2019
  • availability: Not yet published - available from December 2019
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781108481786

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  • It is widely recognised that the epics of Homer are closely related to the earlier mythology and literature of the Ancient Near East, above all the Babylonian Epic of Gilgamesh. But how should this influence our response to the meaning and message of either poem? This book responds to this question through an experiment in intertextual reading. It begins by exploring Gilgamesh as a work of literature in its own right, and uses this interpretation as the springboard for a new reading of the Homeric epic, emphasising the movement within the poem - beginning from a world of heroic action and external violence, but shifting inwards to the thoughts and feelings of Achilles as he responds to the certainty that his own death will follow that of his best friend. The book will be of interest both to specialists and to those coming to ancient literature for the first time.

    • Offers a new analysis of the ancient Greek epic, with a historically authentic sense of its context in the Ancient Near East
    • Provides a fully integrated study of the parallels and contrasts between the visions of the epic past articulated in the Iliad and in the Epic of Gilgamesh
    • Accessible to scholars and students coming to the epics for the first time, as well as being of great interest to specialists
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    Product details

    • Publication planned for: December 2019
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781108481786
    • dimensions: 247 x 174 mm
    • contains: 3 b/w illus. 28 colour illus.
    • availability: Not yet published - available from December 2019
  • Table of Contents

    1. Introduction
    2. Divinity, humanity and wisdom
    3. Gilgamesh and glory
    4. Gilgamesh confronts death
    5. Interlude on Homer and the muse
    6. The race of half-gods
    7. The plan of Zeus
    8. The coming of Achilles
    9. The strife of the Iliad
    10. Achilles looks inward
    11. The death of the friend
    12. Achilles responds
    13. From lamentation to vengeance
    14. Achilles like a lion
    15. Mortality and wisdom
    16. The truths of lamentation
    Conclusion: the slender-winged fly.

  • Author

    Michael Clarke, National University of Ireland, Galway
    Michael Clarke is Established Professor of Classics  at the National University of Ireland, Galway. His interests lie in the comparative study of classical and medieval literatures, especially ancient Greek and medieval Irish, and especially in the emergence of the Homeric epic out of the Ancient Near East. He is the author of Flesh and Spirit in the Songs of Homer: A Study of Words and Myths (2000).

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