Saturday, 6 October 2012

Myths Not Retold

I have started to attend a Latin Improvers' class, the aim being to read Virgil in the original. If I were to start Greek, this would have to be as a beginner. This is an occasion to reflect on how much vaster myth and literature are than the works of any single author.

Iliad: the Trojan War.
Odyssey: what happened to one Greek afterwards.
Aeneid: what happened to one Trojan afterwards.

According to CS Lewis:

the Homeric poems are Primary Epics, set during the heroic age;
Virgil's Aeneid is Secondary Epic, about a historical turning point;
Paradise Lost is Ultimate Epic, about the central turning point, earlier history from before the Creation and subsequent history until after the Judgement.

Since Virgil's turning point is the antecedents of Rome, we can locate Anderson's vast body of work in relation to the epics. It covers:

the fall of a pre-Trojan civilisation;
the Roman Republic;
the Fall of the Roman Empire;
the subsequent Dark Ages;
later, alternative and future periods.

Thus, a worthy addition to earlier literature.

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