Animals in Epic

Laura Hawtree

in The Oxford Handbook of Animals in Classical Thought and Life

Published in print August 2014 | ISBN: 9780199589425
Published online March 2014 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Classics and Ancient History

Animals in Epic

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This chapter examines the role of animals in ancient epic poetry. It explains that throughout the Classical period an impressive range of creatures finds its way into the genre and these creatures functioned to contribute a moral message, signify the dynamic of a national group, behave as dynamic motivators within the very plot of the epic, and provide an element of fantasy. It suggests that the epic animal was in all respects a cultural creation and that the animal epithet served as a memory aid in the most practical of formulaic terms. This chapter mentions the number of references to animals in the Iliad and Aeneid.

Keywords: animals in epic; ancient epic poetry; Classical period; moral message; element of fantasy; dynamic motivators; cultural creation; animal epithet; Iliad; Aeneid

Article.  5145 words. 

Subjects: Classical Studies ; Marriage and the Family

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