Funeral Games in Homer and Virgil
In spite of much recent critical commentary on Virgil and Homer there has not been a great deal of attention paid to the funeral games in book 23 of the Iliad and book 5 of the Aeneid.1 The admirable critical commentaries of Willcock and Williams, to whom I owe an obvious debt, are full of useful information, but both tend to dismiss the games as intervals of light relief inserted to give the participants and the reader an escape from the tension and drama in the preceding and succeeding books.2 Explorations of the different philosophies of the two epic poets have somehow neglected the games as admirable opportunities for each poet to state his contrasting philosophy. In spite of the fact that classics and cricket used to be, and in some old-fashioned quarters still are, regarded as two cornerstones of English education, students of leisure have neglected two of the earliest and greatest descriptions of a sporting event as important contributions to the study of sporting morality.
KeywordsArena Defend Mast Ethos
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