In the fourth century C.E. some Christians paraphrased the stories about Jesus' life in the style of classical epics. Imitating the genre of centos, they stitched together lines taken either from Homer (Greek) or Virgil (Latin). They thus created new texts out of the classical epics, while they still remained fully within the confines of their style and vocabulary. It is the aim of this study to put these attempts into a historical and rhetorical context. Why did some Christians rewrite the Gospel stories in this way, and what came out of this? On the basis of these Christian centos, it is natural to address the view held by some scholars, namely that New Testaments narratives are imitations of the epics.

Any direct link between Achilles and Helen, the best of the Achaeans and the world’s most beautiful woman, is completely absent from the Iliad . Unlike Homer, however, the Cypria , one of the (no longer extant) poems of the so-called Epic Cycle, 1 does seem to have featured an otherwise

In: Mnemosyne
The Evolution of Early Greek Epic Diction in the Light of Oral Theory
Author: Steve Reece
For over 2500 years many of the most learned scholars of the Greek language have concerned themselves with the topic of etymology. The most productive source of difficult, even inexplicable, words was Homer’s 28,000 verses of epic poetry. Steve Reece proposes an approach to elucidating the meanings of some of these difficult words that finds its inspiration primarily in Milman Parry’s oral-formulaic theory. He proposes that during the long period of oral transmission acoustic uncertainties, especially regarding word boundaries, were continually occurring: a bard uttered one collocation of words, but his audience thought it heard another. The consequent resegmentation of words and phrases is the probable cause of some of the etymologically inexplicable words in our Homeric texts.