I am planning on reading the Epic Cycle. Apart from the Iliad and Odyssey the original texts are only fragmentary. I have found reconstructions of the Cypria and Telegony by D.M. Smith.

Is there commentary or interpretation on the Aethiopis, Little Iliad, Iliou persis or Nostoi allowing you to glean more than from a first inspection of the fragments?

Thank you


There's a nice little book by Malcolm Davies (St John's College, Oxford) titled "The Greek Epic Cycle", which deals exactly with what you are asking for. Here's the table of contents of the edition I have:

  1. The Epic Cycle
  2. The Titanomachy
  3. The Oedipodeia
  4. The Thebais
  5. The Epigoni
  6. The Cypria
  7. The Aethiopis
  8. The Little Iliad
  9. The Sack of Troy
  10. The Returns Home
  11. The Telegony

Bearing in mind that "The Sack of Troy" and "The Returns Home" are just alternative titles for "Iliou Persis" and "Nostoi" respectively, it contains commentaries on all the fragments you asked about. Note however that this book is just a commentary, and does not contain the full translated texts (in fact it was originally meant as a companion to Davies's "Epicorum Graecorum Fragmenta", which contains all the translated fragments but unfortunately is really hard to find nowadays). My recommendation is to pair it with a good translation of the Epic Cycle, like Martin L. West's "Greek Epic Fragments from the Seventh to the Fifth Centuries BC".

Davies also wrote a few individual books on specific texts: "The Cypria", "The Theban Epics", and "The Aethiopis: Neo-Neoanalysis Reanalyzed". You can read them for free on the website of the Harvard Center for Hellenistic Studies.

Classical scholar Martin L. West also wrote a more in-depth commentary on the Epic Cycle titled "The Epic Cycle: A Commentary on the Lost Troy Epics", with the disadvantage that it's quite expansive, and that, weirdly, all fragments are referenced in the original language: no translation is offered. One has either to be fluent in ancient greek, or to pair it with a translation like the above-mentioned one by West himself.

My recommendation is to start off with Davies, and move on to West once you are more confident with the subject.

EDIT: Included link to three of Davies's books.

  • Excellent answer. After searching (on wiki and papers) I am still unclear on what neoanalysis is. Could you define neoanalysis please? Thanks for mentioning the book: "Aethiopis": Neo-Neoanalysis Reanalyzed, does the book use neoanalysis to gain a better understanding of the Aethiopis? – Stewart Mar 7 at 16:25
  • 1
    My understanding of it (I'm by no means an expert) is that the analyst approach claimed that the Homeric epics were in reality a later combination of many different pieces by different authors. Neo-analysts instead claim that there was one author who drew upon several different sources, and in many cases they identify those sources in the lost texts of the Epic Cycle. Davies's Neo-Neoanalysis is a bit of a more refined approach to the matter, in the sense that he argues for more complex relationship between the Aethiopis and the Iliad. I added a link where you can read it in my answer. – Gullintanni Mar 7 at 17:59
  • Your comment was very helpful. You’ve seen my other question on the reconstruction of the Theban Cycle. The question has now been classed as a duplicate of this one. Hopefully you had nothing more to add to the question now classed as duplicate. I have confusion on definitions, I thought epic cycle meant Cypria though to Telegony only. – Stewart Mar 7 at 19:05
  • 1
    Yes, everything I had to say regarding the Theban Cycle is in my answer here. It's true that there is a bit of confusion in the classification. Sometimes scholars include the Theban Cycle in the Epic Cycle, like Davies does in "The Greek Epic Cycle", most often they are kept separate. For example "The Epic Cycle: A Commentary on the Lost Troy Epics" by West does not include commentary on the Theban Cycle. The translation by West I recommended, instead, includes both. – Gullintanni Mar 8 at 12:25
  • West's Loeb also has a good introduction for each epic and plenty of notes throughout. – deleted Mar 10 at 17:29

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.