Anthology of Ancient Greek Popular Literature, by Hansen, William
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- ISBN: 9780253211576 | 0253211573
- Cover: Paperback
- Copyright: 4/1/1998
The roots of Western popular literature lie in ancient Greece. This lively anthology samples the fruits of this first blossoming of popular writing. It will certainly surprise many persons that among the ancient Greeks there were readers who enjoyed light reading. But novels, short stories, fable books, jokebooks, and fortunetelling handbooks trace their lineage to the ancient Mediterranean, where we find many kinds of familiar literature in their earliest known forms. Indeed, some of these writings were so successful that they remained in circulation for centuries, even into the Middle Ages. After translation into other languages they became international books, the best-sellers of their era. They remain enjoyable reading today. They are also fascinating social documents that reveal much about the daily lives, fantasies, humor, loves, anxieties, values, and ideology of ordinary men and women, free and slave, pagan and Christian. Greek popular literature was not only international in its reach and appeal, it was also international in its origins, for much Greek literature was produced by persons of other ethnicities (Syrian, Egyptian, Jewish) who wrote in Greek. Much of this material is little known except to scholars. One of the selections, The Oracles of Astrampsychus (a handbook of divination), is translated into English here for the first time. Some of the other selections have rarely been translated. All will prove an unexpected delight to readers everywhere.