The role of the gods in the classical world's epic tradition has been the subject of controversy since ancient times, and many modern readers continue to find their presence a source of frustration. Although the problem of the gods in some individual works has been intensely discussed, this is the first study to be devoted to the classical literary tradition as a whole, together with the apparatus of critical scholarship which was part of that tradition. The work
of the ancient critics provides some access to the interpretative conventions of the original reading community, while their theories of fiction and genre also shed light on the problems of the
truth-value of epic fiction and the kind of belief that poetry generates. Their work is only a preliminary guide, however, and the major portion of this study is devoted to the poets themselves and to the themes particularly associated with them: discussion of fiction is located with Apollonius, allegory with Statius, anthropomorphism with Ovid, and so on. The survey seeks to restore a sense of the power of this unique form of fiction.
'a repertoire of the scholarly concerns of the 1980s and a vital resource for essay writers of the 1990s'
Times Literary Supplement
'This extremely learned book is the first study to be devoted to the Classical literary tradition as a whole, along with the apparatus of critical scholarship that was part of that tradition.'
J.E. Rexine, Colgate University, Choice, Apr '92
'The author's own leanings towards the 'Harvard' school are not disguised, and those who subscribe to that view of the Aeneid have found an eloquent advocate. In future discussions of that poem, as of Lucan and Statius, this splendid book will likely prove indispensable.'
M.J. Dewar, University of Calgary, The Classical Review, Vol. XLII, '92
'a work of dazzling and delightful scholarship and criticism ... this is in every way a remarkable book that confirms F. as a critic of unusual power and authority; above all it is a landmark in the study of Latin epic ... F. combines the traditional skills of the classicist with the insights of literary theory, in a work of a muscular and supple intelligence that deserves the widest readership.'
Philip Hardie, New Hall, Cambridge
'This informative study will be valuable to scholar and student alike, since it is remarkably thorough and well-informed and at the same time written in a style both free of jargon and always pellucid. Feeney's introductory chapter is in turn a valuable survey of the development in antiquity of the notion of fiction, here, as it applied to the representation of the gods in epic poetry.'
Charles Rowan Beye, City University of New York, Classical World
'relaxed, garrulous, and generous-minded behemoth of a book ... This is not at all an easy book to read. But it is an especially fine one. Feeney's is one of the finest books written on Latin literature in the last twenty years. If I dispute some conclusions, this is done in a proper spirit of admiration and gratitutde.'
Peter Toohey, University of New England, Phoenix 47 (1993)3
'Every now and then a book comes along that immediately stamps itself as a classic in the area of Greek and/or Roman literature. Feeney's long and stimulating book has all the hallmarks of such a book. As "The Gods in Epic" is likely to be heavily consulted and used by the specialist and general scholar alike (one of the most useful sections is the extensive bibliography), it is destined to assume an important place in the manuals of modern literary
William J Dominik, Prudentia, Vol XXXV, no2, November 1993
`exceptionally important book ... The Greeks' reception of Homer and Hesiod is accorded a lengthy and interesting treatment ... F's whole inquiry into Statian allegory is a model of perceptive argumentation, and forms a fitting conclusion to his book. The Gods in Epic is a monumental achievement. It not only offers a magnificently perceptive analysis of its announced theme, powerfully championing the integrality of the gods to the genre. It offers previous
insight into ancient epic's whole means of presenting myth, the gods posing the greatest 'problem'. It offers bravura interpretations of the several epics' views of the world. It brings us to the heart of
Graham Zanker, University of Canterbury, Prudentia, Vol. XXIX, no. 1, May 1997
1: The Critics: beginnings, and a synthesis
2: Apollonius' Argonautica
3: From Greece to Rome: Naevius and Ennius
4: Vergil's Aeneid
5: Ovid's Metamorphoses
6: Epic of History: Lucan's Bellum Civile and Silius' Punica
7: Epic of Myth: Valerius Flaccus' Argonautica and Statius' Thebaid