Though the character of Heracles disappears at the end of the first book of the Argonautika, he continues to haunt the narrative as a background figure, glimpsed in the distance and reported as an active presence. Some have interrupted this fact as symbolic of the way traditional epic offers the poem a literary background, all the while bringing a very different sort of epic to the fore. As the scholar M. Asper has recently observed, “This is just the way in which old epic with its generic conventions and its ideology is present in the ‘Argonautika’ reminiscent of Homeric epic, indebted to its conventions, and influenced by its standard elements, and in what way is it a “Callimachean Epic”, that is, allusive, polemical, and personal– striving at every turn to do something different ? Source suggestion: ‘The Argonautika’ Translated by Rodney Merrill


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