A close reading of several classics of ancient warrior poetry
Warfare exerts a magnetic power, even a terrible attraction, in its emphasis on glory, honor, and duty. In order to face the terror of war, it is necessary to face how our biblical traditions have made it attractive - even alluring.
In this book Mark Smith undertakes an extensive exploration of "poetic heroes" across a number of ancient cultures in order to understand the attitudes of those cultures toward war and warriors. Smith examines the Iliad and the Gilgamesh; Ugaritic poems commemorating Baal, Aqhat, and the Rephaim; and early biblical poetry, including the battle hymn of Judges 5 and the lament of David over Saul and Jonathan in 2 Samuel 1. Smith's Poetic Heroes analyzes the importance of heroic poetry in early Israel and its disappearance after the time of David, building on several strands of scholarship in archaeological research, poetic analysis, and cultural reconstruction.
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