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Epic Poetry (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

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Overview

• The Iliad: One of the oldest extant works of Western literature, this sonorous epic poem of 15,000 lines is also regarded as one of its masterworks. Set in the last weeks of the Trojan War, The Iliad begins with an invocation to the Muses and ends with the funeral of the heroic warrior Hector. Among its other main characters are Priam, Paris, Aeneas, Achilles, Ajax, Agamemnon, Patroclus, Odysseus, and, of course, the alluring Helen, over whom the long, hard-fought conflict had...

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Overview

• The Iliad: One of the oldest extant works of Western literature, this sonorous epic poem of 15,000 lines is also regarded as one of its masterworks. Set in the last weeks of the Trojan War, The Iliad begins with an invocation to the Muses and ends with the funeral of the heroic warrior Hector. Among its other main characters are Priam, Paris, Aeneas, Achilles, Ajax, Agamemnon, Patroclus, Odysseus, and, of course, the alluring Helen, over whom the long, hard-fought conflict had been waged.

• The Odyssey: The ten-year struggle of Odysseus to return home after the Trojan War forms the subject of this quest story that can be truly described as archetypal. In fact, The Odyssey influenced J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter has been called the wizard world Odysseus. Homer's exciting, nuanced tale makes us forget that this epic is nearly three thousand years old.

• Beowulf: Written sometime from the eighth century to the early eleventh century A.D., this epic alliterative poem is arguably the masterpiece of Anglo-Saxon literature. Its rousing account of its eponymous hero's battles against three antagonists (Grendel, Grendel's mother, and an unnamed dragon) ends with the brave warrior's death and burial.

• The Aeneid: Virgil's polished and artfully structured epic poem recounts Aeneas's wanderings from his native Troy to Italy, his descent into the underworld, and the ultimate victory of him and his countrymen against the Latins. The Aeneid has served as a model for countless subsequent writers, most notably Dante Alighieri and John Milton.

• The Metamorphoses: Could a poem be more ambitious? In fifteen books, Ovid's The Metamorphoses tells the story of the history of the world from its creation to the deification of Julius Caesar. This first century A.D. poem gained almost instant popularity and was the most widely-read classical work during the Middle Ages, but its mythological stories later earned it virulent condemnations by Christians.

• The Inferno: Rendered in thirty-three cantos, Dante's 14th century epic poem follows its author's imaginary journey through the nine circles of Hell. The first part of the Flortentine author's Divine Comedy, The Inferno combines both an allegory of spiritual progress and a vivid, poetic account of subterranean descent.

• Purgatorio: In the second book in Dante's Divine Comedy, the narrator struggles up the steep terraces of the island-mountain called Purgatory. As he ascends, he encounters sinners also awaiting their release into Paradise. For many readers, this book-length section of the poem is the most captivating and powerful.

• Paradiso: At the top of Mount Purgatory, Dante loses his pagan guide Virgil. Replacing him in this role is the angelic Beatrice. Thus begins the Paradiso in which the narrator and readers are drawn upwards through nine celestial bodies and the Empyrean. It was the evocativeness of this poem and its predecessors that made James Joyce declare that Dante was his spiritual food.

• Paradise Lost: Modeled on Virgil's Aeneid, John Milton's Paradise Lost tracks the parallel stories of Satan and the Garden of Eden's two original occupants. Numerous commentators have noted that in many ways, the rebellious former angel resembles the tragic heroes of literature.

The Barnes & Noble Classics series offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics series:
• New introductions commissioned from today's top writers and scholars
• Biographies of the authors
• Chronologies of contemporary historical, biographical, and cultural events
• Footnotes and endnotes
• Selective discussions of imitations, parodies, poems, books, plays, paintings, operas, statuary, and films inspired by the work
• Comments by other famous authors
• Study questions to challenge the reader's viewpoints and expectations
• Bibliographies for further reading
• Indices & Glossaries, when appropriate

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780594069478
  • Publisher: Barnes & Noble
  • Publication date: 12/17/2010
  • Series: Barnes & Noble Classics Series
  • Sales rank: 298,408
  • Product dimensions: 11.00 (w) x 14.10 (h) x 6.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Very few other writers can match the anonymity of the author of Beowulf. We don't know his or her name, the century in which they lived, or, indeed, even whether there were multiple authors.

Publius Vergilius Maro is universally remembered as Virgil (70-19 B.C.E.). In addition to The Aeneid (29-19 B.C.E.), the major works of this well-educated Roman include the The Eclogues or Bucolics (42-38 B.C.E.), and The Georgics (31-29 B.C.E.).

Ovid (43 B.C.E.-17/18 A.D.), or more properly, Publius Ovidius Naso, was renowned in his own time for numerous works besides The Metamorphoses (8 A.D.). In fact, Quintillian regarded his now lost tragedy Medea as his masterwork. His other works include the erotic poetry collections Heroides (c.25-16 B.C.E.), Amores (c.16 B.C.E.), and Ars Amatoria (c.2 A.D.); the Fasti (c.8 A.D.); and two poetry collections written in exile, Tristia (c.8 A.D.) and Epistulae ex Ponto (c.10 A.D.).

Dante Alighieri (1265-1321), the most important poet of the Middle Ages, composed his masterwork La Divina Commedia in the years between 1307 and 1321. Its title actually evolved: Originally called Commedia, this three-part poem was later called Divina by his admiring contemporary Boccaccio. Other important works by this author include Vita nuova (c.1293), De vulgari eloquentia (On the Eloquence of Vernacular) (I304); Convivio (The Banquet) (c.1304), and De Monarchia (On Monarchy) (c.1317).

Best known for his Paradise Lost (1667), English author John Milton (1608-1674) was also an active man of letters, a polemical writer, and a public official. Among his most resilient works are Paradise Regained (1671), Samson Agonistes (1671), Of True Religion (1673), Poems &c. Upon Several Occasions (1673). All of these works were composed after he had become completely blind.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 24, 2012

    Nice set of books

    I'm collecting all of the Barnes and Noble classics and bought this set recently. I obviously have not read all of them yet, but they look as ncie as the others.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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