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Accidental Grandeur

A Defense of Narrative Vagueness in Ancient Epic Literature


Since the work of Milman Parry, Homeric poetry has been subjected to a meticulous re-evaluation. The question of how closely an oral tale should be searched for subtle meanings applies, not just to Homer, but to all traditional literature. Accidental Grandeur mitigates this controversy with the novel idea that great epics succeed largely because their style leaves so much to the audience's imagination. From the Old Irish traditions to Homer to the highly literate Vergil, certain inflexible narrative conventions may be seen actually to introduce a poetic uncertainty.
Contents: Introduction of terms, analysis of different narrative techniques (Homeric formulae, Old Irish triadic structuring, Vergilian redundancy). Also an unusual collection of texts to study (especially the addition of Old Irish Ulster Cycle to Homer and Vergil).