The Oxford Companion to Classical Literature

The Oxford Companion to Classical Literature

The Oxford Companion to Classical Literature

The Oxford Companion to Classical Literature

Excerpt

The aim of this book, as designed by the publishers, is to present, in convenient form, information which the ordinary reader, not only of the literatures of Greece and Rome, but also of that large proportion of modern European literature which teems with classical allusions, may find useful. It endeavours to do two things: in the first place to bring together what he may wish to know about the evolution of classical literature, the principal authors, and their chief works; in the second place, to depict so much of the historical, political, social, and religious background as may help to make the classics understood. Accordingly, for the first of the above purposes, articles in alphabetical arrangement (1) explain the various elements of classical literature -- epic, tragedy, comedy, metre, &c; (2) give an account of the principal authors; and (3) describe the subjects or contents of their works, either under the name of the author, or, where more convenient, under the title of the work itself. Interesting points of connexion between the classics and medieval and modern English literature are noticed. In general the book confines itself to the classical period, but some authors of the decline, such as Plutarch and Lucian, Jerome and Ausonius, are included, because of their exceptional interest or importance.In addition, to effect the second of the above purposes, articles are added:

1. on the principal phases of the history of Greece (more particularly Athens) and Rome, down to the end of the period of their classical literatures, and on their political institutions and economic conditions; outstanding historical characters, inseparable from literature, such as Pericles and Pompey, are separately mentioned;

2. on Greek and Roman religion and religious institutions, and the principal schools of philosophy;

3. on various aspects of the social conditions, under such headings as Houses,Women (Position of),Slavery,Education,Food,Clothing, and Games; the art, industry, commerce, and agriculture of the Greek and Roman periods are also noticed;

4. on the more important myths and mythological characters, as an essential element in Greek and Roman literature;

5. on geographical names of importance in a literary connexion, as the birthplaces of authors, or as the scene of events frequently alluded to; something is said of the topography of Athens and Rome, and further geographical information is furnished by maps and plans;

6. on the manner in which ancient books were written, and the texts transmitted and studied through the ages;

7. on such things as Roman camps, roads, and aqueducts, ancient ships and chariot-races, horses and elephants in antiquity, and domestic pets.

It should be remembered, nevertheless, that this work does not list antiquities as such, but only those antiquities which concern the study of classical literature.

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