Since the dawn of Western literature, going all the way back to Homer and his sanguinary epics of men in battle, war has captivated poets. And yet the Iliad and the Odyssey, though they cover traditional heroic materials, are strangely ambivalent regarding their central heroic subject: the striving for glory through warfare. Homer’s poems, to be sure, recreate the melodrama and gory details of ancient battle-fear and courage, loyalty,...
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