From Achilles's heel to the sword of Damocles, Western culture
teems with allusions from the rich heritage of classical
literature, and this new edition of The Oxford Companion to
Classical Literature, the first updating since Sir Paul Harvey's
original edition of 1937, provides the key to these works and the
ancient Greek and Roman civilizations that produced them.
Substantially revising the first edition, this volume condenses the
findings of the most recent scholarship into highly readable prose
and supplies a wealth of background information not found in
Harvey's Companion. Indispensable to those studying classical
literature in depth, the book will be equally accessible to the
non-specialist. All Greek is transliterated, with translations
given for all quotations from Greek and Latin.
The main focus of the Companion remains the lives and works of the
principal authors. Biographical entries offer the essential facts
and sift the conjectural evidence, while entries on the major works
include discussions of the philosophical dialogues and political
speeches and plot summaries of the epic poems and plays. The
various literary forms--epic, comedy, tragedy, rhetorical
writing--are covered in depth, supplemented by articles on the
origins of the Greek and Latin alphabets and languages.
The Companion also puts this literature into its societal and
historical contexts, including many articles on political, social,
and artistic achievements. We learn, for example, about the
political climate that produced the great speeches of Demosthenes
and Cicero. Orators, statesmen, and generals stalk the pages, and
major battles and conquests from the time of Alexander to the fall
of Rome aresummarized. Articles on contemporary social mores and
religious beliefs help explain literary references, while the
glories of philosophy, science, and art are celebrated from Cynics
to Stoics, astronomy to water-clocks, and flute competitions to
Helpful maps supplement geographical entries, a chronological
table provides an overview of the main historical and literary
events, and a systematic set of cross-references links the entries.
The breadth and accuracy of this volume will surely make it the
standard reference book of its kind for years to come.
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