1st Edition

Epic Lessons An Introduction to Ancient Didactic Poetry

By Peter Toohey Copyright 1996
    282 Pages
    by Routledge

    282 Pages
    by Routledge

    Didactic Epic was enormously popular in the ancient world. It was used to teach Greeks and Romans technical and scientific subjects, but in verse. Epic Lessons shows how this scientific poetry was intended not just to instruct but also to entertain.

    Praise for its predecessor, Reading Epic

    'Toohey's erudition makes the complexities and the strangeness of these ancient poems appear as clear as daylight and his enthusiasm renders them as attractive as the latest blockbuster.' - JACT Review

    Introduction. 1. Who Reads Didactic Epic? 2. Word of Mouth. Orality and Didactic Poetry from Hesiod to Empedocles 3. The Universe as a Book. Alexandrian Literacy and the Poems of Aratus and Nicander 4. Roman Renewal. Cicero and Lucretius 5. Politics, Power and Play. Polyphony in Virgil's Georgics and Ovid's Fasti 6. Amusements for a Smoky December. Horace on Poetry and Ovid on Eros 7. Humans, Nature and God. Epic Lessons in the First Century 8. Resisting Instinct. Hunting, Fishing, Science, and God 9. Didactic Dinners. Instruction in Narrative Epic and in the Novel 10. A Literary History of Leisure? The Didactic Epic. Bibliography.


    Peter Toohey is Associate Professor in Classics and Ancient History at the University of New England, New South Wales. He is the author of Reading Epic: An Introduction to the Ancient Narratives (1992), and has edited, with Mark Golden Reconstructing the Past: Historicism, Periodisation and the Ancient World (1996).

    'This book offers a comprehensive survey of the major surviving examples of Greek and Roman didactic poetry ... I also enjoyed the opportunity to delve into Nicander and other less frequently read writers and found that they provided an illuminating context for more familiar works.' I Hilary Walters, Loughborough Grammar School