Epic and Romance in the Argonautica of Apollonius

Epic and Romance in the Argonautica of Apollonius

by Charles Rowan Beye
     
 

Apollonius’ Argonautica is almost universally ignored, yet according to John Gardner in his Foreword, this great epic of third-century Alexandria is astoundingly modern in spirit and applicable to today’s problems.

“Understanding the work as Beye ex­plains it,” Gardner notes, “we can see why it apparently failed with most

Overview

Apollonius’ Argonautica is almost universally ignored, yet according to John Gardner in his Foreword, this great epic of third-century Alexandria is astoundingly modern in spirit and applicable to today’s problems.

“Understanding the work as Beye ex­plains it,” Gardner notes, “we can see why it apparently failed with most of the sorrowful, lawful Romans; why only a few passages were allegorically acceptable to the Middle Ages; why the Victorians scarcely noticed it; and why now, in our time, it has resurfaced as an important work. In an age of nihilism and cynicism, it satisfies all our needs, yet it is not finally nihilistic or cynical.”

After sketching Apollonius’ life, Beye delves deeply into the intellectual and liter­ary currents that spawned the Argonautica. He notes that Apollonius “remains the poet who showed the Roman the way to translate the oral poetry of heroism into a complicated literary expression freighted with symbol.”

Beye continues: “More than anything else, however, the Argonautica is entertaining in it­self. By turns witty, humorous, perverse, sad, even tragic, the narrative is itself a voyage; the narrator asks us to embark with him to gain not only the fleece and Medea but a style and a chastened sensibility as well. And then, of course, there is the love story, one of the first in the Western tradition and one of the best.”

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780809310203
Publisher:
Southern Illinois University Press
Publication date:
09/01/1982
Series:
Literary Structures Series
Edition description:
1st Edition
Pages:
208
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.75(d)
Lexile:
1300L (what's this?)

Meet the Author

Charles Rowan Beye is Professor of Clas­sics at Boston University.

John Gardner is a medieval scholar and major contemporary novelist.

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