The ancient epic tradition of Homer stands at the beginning of all western literature. Many centuries later, Virgil self-consciously imitates this beginning in order to do for the Romans what Homer did for the Greeks. These poems tell the tale of larger-than-life heroes on the plain of battle, of gods aiding and foiling the plans of men, of glorious victory and pitiful loss—all in lofty lines of dactylic hexameter. In this course, we will read through the whole of the Iliad, the Odyssey, and the Aeneid, and we will study both the cultural milieu in which these epics were composed and the later culture that they helped to found.
606a – Sing O Muse: The Ancient Epic