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p. 11. History, genre, textlocked

  • William Allen


‘History, genre, text’ introduces this overview of classical literature, a period spanning over 1,200 years (c.750 bc to ad 500) and explains how these texts survived to this day. The conventional periodization of classical literature — archaic, classical, Hellenistic, and imperial for Greek literature; Republican and imperial for Latin — mirrors the familiar chunks of ancient history. A striking aspect of classical literature is its highly developed sense of genre. But what is genre? Classical literature is characterized by a hierarchy of genres, from ‘high’ forms such as epic, tragedy, and history to ‘low’ forms such as comedy, satire, mime, and epigram.

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