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Mock-Epic Poetry from Pope to Heine$
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Ritchie Robertson

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199571581

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199571581.001.0001

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Epic: A Genre in Stasis?

Epic: A Genre in Stasis?

(p.16) 1 Epic: A Genre in Stasis?
Mock-Epic Poetry from Pope to Heine

Ritchie Robertson (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

After an account of epic and mock‐epic theory within neoclassicism, referring especially to the ‘Querelle des Anciens et des Modernes’, this chapter surveys the decline of serious epic, bringing out a paradox: epic was felt from the eighteenth century onwards to be antiquated, excessively rule‐bound, anachronistic, yet serious epics kept being written, and read, not only in the period discussed (c.1730–1850) but down to the early twentieth century. The serious epic tradition turns on the problematic presentation of heroes who are excessively violent (Achilles in the Iliad) or dutiful (Aeneas in the Aeneid); the resulting tensions, already discernible in epic, become explicit in mock epic, which proposes different ideals of heroism, often amorous and domestic rather than military.

Keywords:   epic, Iliad, Aeneid, neoclassicism, heroism

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