"The Invention of Homer," by M. L. West; The Classical Quarterly, New Series, Vol. 49, No. 2 (1999), pp. 364-382.
People often ask me about the connection between Homer and other epics, especially the Mesopotamian Epic of Gilgamesh or the epic cycle, which is the source of many of the details we have about the Trojan War that Homer excludes (for reasons Griffin [below] discusses). Regrettably, I am frequently at a loss for answers. If this is an area that interests you and you have already read a couple of translations of the Gilgamesh epic (if you can make sense of the Akkadian, you are way beyond anything I can help with) and the works of Homer, especially The Iliad and The Odyssey, you probably want more. For starters, take a look at my review of Ancient Epic, by Katherine Callen King, a small Wiley Blackwell book directly related to the topic. King analyzes The Epic of Gilgamesh, which is the first poetic epic, The Iliad and The Odyssey, The Argonautica, The Aeneid, and Ovid's Metmorphoses. It may be exactly what you are looking for.
There is a massive amount of material on Homer and his place in ancient poetry -- specifically, epic. If you have access to L'Année philologique or JSTOR, you should make use of them. In case you don't, you should try Oxford Bibliographies. Here are a few primarily English works, both books and articles, on the general topic of the position of Homer vis a vis ancient poetry, culled from the Oxford Bibliography on Homer.
1. Burgess, Jonathan S. 2001. The Tradition of the Trojan War in Homer and the Epic Cycle. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Univ. Press.
2. Burkert, Walter. 1992. The Orientalizing Revolution: Near Eastern Influence on Greek Culture in the Early Archaic Age. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press.
3. Foley, J. M., ed. 2005. A Companion to Ancient Epic. Malden, MA: Wiley Blackwell.
4. Griffin, Jasper. 1977. "The Epic Cycle and the Uniqueness of Homer." Journal of Hellenic Studies 97:39-53.
5. Janko, Richard. 1982. Homer, Hesiod and the Hymns: Diachronic Development in Epic Diction. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.
6. Kirk, G. S. 1962. The Songs of Homer. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.
7. West, Martin L., ed. and trans. 2002. Greek Epic Fragments From the Seventh to the Fifth Centuries BC. Loeb Classical Library. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press.
West, Martin L. 1988. "The rise of the Greek epic." Journal of Hellenic Studies 108:151-172.
|Study Guides for 'The Odyssey'|
|Study Guides for 'The Iliad'|