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'Order from Chaos' Ecphrasis and Meaning in Context in the Pseudo-Hesiodic Shield of Heracles

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This article attempts to explain the structure of the eponymous ecphrasis in the Pseudo-Hesiodic "Shield of Heracles" as a programme outlining an evolution from violent chaos to peaceful order which corresponds to the function initially ascribed to Heracles as 'protector against ruin for gods and men' (Sc. 28–9). It will be argued that the seemingly disproportionate ecphrasis is a conscious reworking of the Homeric shield of Achilles employed as a literary device to give a cosmic dimension to the battle between Heracles and Cycnus and establish Heracles as the unambiguously glorious (super)hero of the epyllion. This interpretation of the Pseudo-Hesiodic Heracles is consistent with RICHARD MARTIN'S notion of a 'trash aesthetic' determining the composition and presentation of the poem.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 2016

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  • Hermes, founded in 1866 and currently edited by Siegmar Döpp, Karl-Joachim Hölkeskamp and Adolf Köhnken, is an international, peer-reviewed journal on Greek and Roman antiquity. It focuses on linguistics, literature as well as history. It features original articles in English, German, French and Italian.
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