Intergeneric Influences and Interactions (A. Ambühl)

This essay analyses the genre-specific conventions of Graeco-Roman epic before the backdrop of intertextual and intergeneric references to epic poetry in other genres (and vice versa), a dynamic process through which the reciprocal boundaries of the various genres have been defined and developed. In this context, the idea of the Homeric epics as the source of all other genres, which has been propagated mainly from the Hellenistic period onwards, will be scrutinized (especially the view of the Homeric speeches as matrices of rhetoric in Quintilian, Pseudo-Longinus and others) as well as the typological analysis of the relationship between epic and tragedy in Aristotle’s Poetics. Furthermore, passages that reflect an immanent poetics of epic will also be taken into consideration.

In particular, the analysis will focus on the literary-historical and structural cross-connections between epic poetry and drama as well as historiography. Especially the interactions between epic and tragedy, which in scholarship on Hellenistic and Roman epic have been defined in widely diverging ways, are to be reviewed critically.

Finally, a few select examples shall demonstrate the impact of intergeneric interactions on specific epic type scenes and structural elements and the changes they undergo in the course of the epic tradition as a result of it.