Homer / Edition 2

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The earliest and greatest works of Greek literature - the Iliad and the Odyssey - have been attributed since antiquity to the poet Homer. This concise book is an ideal introduction to the poet and his two great epics. Assuming no prior knowledge of Greek, the author supplies all the background information necessary to understand the poems.

The book presents an overview of the "Homeric question," considering the authorship, composition, and transmission of the poems. It provides the historical background to the epics, literary readings of the Iliad and the Odyssey, and an analysis of the poet's plotting, narrative technique, and characterization. The author uses comparisions between the two poems to illustrate Homeric poetics.

A final section reviews the important secondary literature on Homer and offers a guide to further reading. Throughout, the author makes use of his own original research, especially on the relations between Greek alphabetic writing and the origins of Greek literature.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Finally we have in English a companion to the poems of Homer that each and every reader should and can consult. Powell's Homer can be recommended without reservation to students at any level, as well as to older readers. Even professional Classicists are likely to find surprises in store for them."Jack Davis, University of Cincinnati

"Thoroughly enjoyable and stimulating...I read it through with pleasure, with general agreement, and with flashes of lightbulb-over-the-head-type enlightenment." Allan Griffiths, University College, London

"Powell (classics, Univ. of Wisconsin, Madison; Writing and the Origins of Greek Literature) offers an impressive introduction to Homer, focusing on the epic texts for which he is known, The Iliad and The Odyssey. Part 1 presents lucid overviews of various debates surrounding Homer's texts. The author divides the discussion into three sections: the philologist's Homer (from the perspective of language and text), the historian's Homer (The Iliad and The Odyssey as historical, archaeological, and anthropological sources), and the reader's Homer (his plot, style, and figurative language). Part 2 examines the various stories of The Iliad and The Odyssey, assessing their greatness and why they endure. While Powell expresses strong opinions on the various ways in which Homer is read, his treatment is always balanced. This work is witty, lucid, and more thorough than Paolo Vivante's Homer. Highly recommended." T.L. Cooksey, Armstrong Atlantic State Univ., Savannah Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

"Powell admirably wrestles an almost impossible amount of material into a coherent presentation for his target audience ... It is well written in a clear and accessible style. Honest in his aims, Powell admirably introduces the genius and challenge of the Homeric works." Bryn Mawr Classical Review

"The book has a refreshingly personal touch ... Powell succeeds very well in making Homer's poetry and Homeric problems appealing to his intended readers." Classical Bulletin

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Barry B. Powell is Halls-Bascom Professor of Classics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His previous publications include Homer and the Origin of the Greek Alphabet (1991), A Short Introduction to Classical Myth (2001), Writing and the Origins of Greek Literature (2002), and Classical Myth (fourth edition, 2004).

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Table of Contents



Chronological Chart.



Part I: Background:.

1. The Philologist’s Homer.

2. The Historian’s Homer.

3. The Reader’s Homer.

Part II: The Poems:.

4. The Iliad.

5. The Odyssey.

6. Conclusion and Summary.


Further Reading.


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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 9, 2014

    Lovely...! beautiful.....!.... Just enjoy it.....!

    Lovely...! beautiful.....!.... Just enjoy it.....!

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