By Tom Winnifrith
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« L’épopée virgilienne n’est jamais languissante, elle a de los angeles fluidité et du rythme ; avant même de saisir los angeles beauté d’ensemble de l’œuvre, nous percevons tout de suite, ligne à ligne, que l’écriture de l’Énéide est une des plus limpides et raffinées qui soit, semée de vers dont l. a. pureté, l’opalescence et l’émotion donnent le frisson ».
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No one who hears or reads that description can doubt the poet's genius at this point- Homer's genius, that is, concentrated on the particular relation between Hector and Andromache on that particular day in the tragic history of Troy, a relation that is both tender and real, not possibly just a great type-scene of warrior husband and faithful wife. In theory, I suppose, there could have been an earlier poem about a warrior coming back to a besieged city and encountering various people there, and this might be part of it; for the argument that 'what is brilliant must be by Homer' can be misleading.
Even after the Persian wars had provided a counter-image of conflict between Greeks and non-Greeks as a struggle between civilisation and barbarism, between freedom and slavery, the Trojan war remained essentially what it is in Homeric epic: an image of human struggle in which the heroism of Hector is-not less than, nor different in kind from, the heroism of Achilles, and in which the suffering that war brings is embodied above all in the women of Troy, in Hecabe and Andromache. The fact is quite remarkable, I think, and worth underlining, and it is part of the lasting legacy of the Homeric imagination.
The alternation of detailed and generic descriptions of fighting, of condensed and extended narrative, of human and divine focus, of Diomedes and other warriors, and above all of Achaean and Trojan and then Achaean predominance again, has been lovingly and effectively carried through. Certain other qualities beyond those of unified planning must have made themselves felt, not least the unusual and fantastic turns of events, and I shall return to these shortly; but first I want to complete the record of cross-links with 6, our most completely Homeric datum, and also with 4.
Aspects of the Epic by Tom Winnifrith