Scholia Reviews ns 11 (2002) 5.
Malcolm Davies, The Greek Epic Cycle. London: Bristol Classical Press, 2001. Pp. viii + 93, incl. an index of mythological names. ISBN 1-85399-039-6. UKú9.99
Department of Modern and Classical Languages, University of Cape Town
This book announces itself, misleadingly, on the cover as a 'second edition', when it is in fact no more than a reissue, in a larger format and with very minor changes, of a book first published by the same press in 1989. So this will be a very brief notice rather than a review.
The Epic Cycle of ancient Greece -- those early epics about the battles of gods and Titans, legends of Oedipus and of Thebes, the events before and after the Trojan War which are not narrated by Homer -- is of great importance for the development of Greek mythology, and for its use by the Athenian tragedians and others. But the poems of the Cycle unfortunately survive only in brief fragments, secondary references and summaries, not easily accessible except to specialists. So Davies' book is very useful for those without knowledge of Greek, or those who want quick and convenient access to the content of the Cycle. The book provides an English translation of the certainly attested fragments, summaries of the secondary witnesses, together with succinct discussion of problems of interpretation.
The larger format of this reissue means that the pagination is (slightly) different from the 1989 printing. Otherwise the differences are trivial. A few examples: 'Which conclusion in no way follows' (1989, p. 7) changes to 'Such a conclusion in no way follows' (2001, p. 7), 'The twentieth century has . . . ' (1989, p. 23) to 'The twentieth century had . . . ' (2001, p. 22), and epitome (1989, p. 93), to Epitome (2001, p. 89). But some misprints have not been corrected. I spotted 'denigatory' (for 'denigratory') and 'fill details' (for 'fill in details') on pp. 1 and 7 respectively of the reissue, carried over uncorrected from the 1989 printing.
Individuals and librarians who did not acquire this book when it was first published, should be pleased to know that it is again in print.