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Books of the ancient world: Short story of the epic greek literature

What have in common between Games of Thrones with the epic battle of Troy? What has copied from the ancient Greeks, the last winner of Music Awards and because poetry is always present around us? Let’s find out with this series of episodes dedicated to the Greek literature and its influence in this days present

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Epic: the oldest genre

Dark Age: an age tragic and mysterious. After the fall of the Mycenaean you are struggling to find a new point of reference: the population is fragmented into a myriad of small family groups.  Writing is forgotten e and society returns to hierarchical forms more simple and therefore more functional. In this context, it is important to preserve the “historical memory” of the group without a past you can not define their identity. In addition to the memory of their ancestors and their deeds, justifying the presence of the group in a particular place, you must also maintain a system of values and traditions, which serve to distinguish themselves from others.

The response of the Greek civilization is the birth of the rhapsod (aoidos – the chanter), poet and singer (by profession) who sings on the zither (stringed instrument with a sounding board) a new poetic form called epic (epic that word , speech, story). Inside it combines religious tradition (theogonies and sacred rituals), symbolic (cyclical), historical (heroes and great events of the past) and cultural (role models).

The epic becomes in short a summa of the Greek culture. Nevertheless, no matter how good, can not remember the bard mechanically poems of poems; instead it uses another technique: fixed in the memory of the key points of the story and the main figures, reinventing and readjusting each time the rest. After all, the story is quite known to all, the characters are familiar to long, but what really matters is the way they proceed in the story, the way they face their fate, the meaning they give to their lives. That’s what the bard preserves and interprets the light of tradition and based on the audience that listens.

More than the simple recall of facts, the epic can pass on the culture avoiding this disappear. Unfortunately, this system also brings a downside: being handed down by the method described, the epic poetry becomes increasingly tied to the work of the rhapsod personal skills, which, in the long run, end up influencing it with his way of seeing the world .

From generation to generation, each bard takes away or adds to them with the result that the same work focuses on events common to the same geographical area, it differs from village to village in the names of the protagonists and their genealogies and, in some cases, also in the names of deities involved. All this will cause, for example, the birth of different theogonies in various areas of Greece while accumunate by the Gods.elle varie zone della Grecia pur accumunate dagli stessi Dei.

The structure of the epic poem

The epic, which always opens with an protasis (or a premise in which after the invocation to the Muse is briefly presented the topic of the poem), is generally characterized by two “moments” recurring:

  •  mimetic, which reports in prose direct speeches of the charactersachille
  •  diegetic, that is, the third-person narrative.

Muses are mythological figures of great symbolic value: nine sisters now daughters of Zeus, now of Uranus and Gaea. These genealogies are linked to the philosophical concept of the primacy of the music universe. Le Muse, in fact, are not only the divine singers (instruments then the Supreme Being), but preside over thought in all its forms.

Frequent patronymics, attributes that qualify the offspring often divine hero, also important because they give musicality to the verses and facilitate the storage, resulting in true formulas. With them equally applicant is the use of the epithet that is the word that characterizes the hero and underscores a certain characteristic extraordinary.

The poem is written in verse, the oldest of which is the hexameter. A verse is a metric unit, consisting of a sequence of elements according to which follows a pause which coincides with the end of the word. The metric of Greek poetry is based in particular on the repetition of the same kind of way. The basic elements of the line are the feet: a foot consists of a series of syllables:

  • short syllable (chrònos protos – first time).
  • long syllable (which has the value of two).

In particular the hexameter (also said dactylic) is composed of six feet, each of which contains four times and three syllables (that is, in total, eighteen syllables distributed in twenty-four times).

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Monasterium Album
Lo scriptorium di Monasterium Album nasce dalla volontà di un gruppo di scrittori, poeti ma soprattutto sognatori di condividere i propri progetti e le proprie idee liberamente. Appassionati di gdr, card games, fantasy e horror, ma anche attenti lettori della narrativa contemporanea, trovano all'interno dello Scriptorium un luogo in cui dare vita ai propri sentimenti e personaggi, ma anche in cui poter sperimentare forme nuove di narrativa e di comunicazione.

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