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Seamus Heaney and the ClassicsBann Valley Muses$
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Stephen Harrison, Fiona Macintosh, and Helen Eastman

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780198805656

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198805656.001.0001

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(p.1) 1 Introduction
Seamus Heaney and the Classics

Stephen Harrison

Fiona Macintosh

Oxford University Press

The recent death of Seamus Heaney is an appropriate point to honour the great Irish poet’s major contribution to classical reception in modern poetry in English; this is the first volume to be dedicated to that subject, though occasional essays have appeared in the past. The volume comprises literary criticism by scholars of classical reception and literature in English, from both Classics and English, and has some input from critics who are also poets and from theatre practitioners on their interpretations and productions of Heaney’s versions of Greek drama; it combines well-known names with some early-career contributors, and friends and collaborators of Heaney with those who admired him from afar. The papers focus on two main areas: Heaney’s fascination with Greek drama and myth, shown primarily in his two Sophoclean versions but also in his engagement in other poems with Hesiod, with Aeschylus’ Agamemnon and with myths such as that of Antaeus, and his interest in Latin poetry, primarily in Virgil but also in Horace; a version of an Horatian ode was famously the vehicle of Heaney’s comment on 11 September 2001 in ‘Anything Can Happen’ (District and Circle, 2006).

Keywords:   Seamus Heaney, poetry, classics, Northern Ireland, Sophocles, Virgil, Horace, Hesiod, Aeschylus

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