Epic

Turold: The Song of Roland

SimonMarmionWikipedia-Grandes_chroniques_RolandThe Song of Roland (French: Chanson de Roland) is an old French epic poem, probably written in the late eleventh or early twelfth century. Traditionally attributed to a poet named Turoldus or Turold, it is the most famous example of the chanson de geste genre and the earliest surviving major work of French literature.

Its subject is very loosely inspired by the death of the Frankish commander Roland at the historical battle of Roncevaux in 778, during Charlemagne's campaign against Islamic Spain. Although the actual battle was fought against the Basques, it was romanticised in the song into a tale of Muslim perfidy and Christian revenge.

The milieu of the Carolingian court and heroes such as Roland and his companion Oliver would form the core of the Matter of France, a distinct corpus of medieval poetic material contrasted with that based on classical myth, understood as the Matter of Rome, and the Arthurian legends of the Matter of Britain.

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Free online texts

English translations

Gutenberg: The Song of Roland, translated by C.K. Scott-Moncrieff. HTML, EPUB, MOBI and TXT formats.
Gutenberg: La Chanson de Roland, translated by Léonce Rabillon. HTML, EPUB, MOBI and TXT formats.
Gutenberg: The Harvard Classics, Volume 49, Epic and Saga - The Song of Roland/The Destruction of Dá Derga's Hostel. HTML, EPUB, MOBI and TXT formats.
Internet Archive: The Song of Roland, translated by C.K. Scott-Moncrieff, with an introduction by G.K. Chesterton. EPUB, MOBI, PDF and TXT formats.
Internet Archive: The Song of Roland, translated by Richard Bacon. EPUB, MOBI, PDF and TXT formats.
University of Adelaide: The Song of Roland, translated by C.K. Scott-Moncrieff. HTML, EPUB, and MOBI formats.
Wikisource: The Song of Roland, translated by C.K. Scott-Moncrieff (incomplete). HTML and other formats.

French texts
Wikisource: La Chanson de Roland. Multiple texts. HTML and other formats.

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The Nibelungenlied

Nibelungenlied_manuscript-kThe Nibelungenlied (German: Das Nibelungenlied) or Song of the Nibelungs is a middle high German epic poem whose anonymous author may have written in the early 13th century. It draws on much older oral traditions which are paralleled in Scandinavian literature, and which dimly reflects events from the 5th and 6th century.

The first half of the poem is centred on the hero Siegfried,  his wooing of the the princess Kriemhild at the court of the Burgundians, and his eventual murder. The second part takes place at the court of King Etzel, the historical Attila the Hun, where Kriemhild takes her revenge against Siegfried's killers.

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Free online texts

English translations
Gutenberg: The Nibelungenlied, translated by Daniel Bussier Shumway. HTML, EPUB, MOBI and TXT formats.
Gutenberg: The Lay of the Nibelung Men, translated by Arthur S. Way. HTML, EPUB, MOBI and TXT formats.
Gutenberg: The Nibelungenlied, translated by G.H. Needler. HTML, EPUB, MOBI and TXT formats.
Internet Archive: The Lay of the Nibelings, translated by Alice Horton, with an essay by Thomas Carlyle.  PDF, MOBI, EPUB and TCT formats.
University of Adelaide: The Nibelungenlied, translated by Daniel Bussier Shumway. HTML, EPUB, and MOBI  formats.
Wikisource: Nibelungenlied, translated by Daniel Bussier Shumway (incomplete). HTML and other formats.

German texts
Bibliotheca Augustana: Das Nibelungenlied. Multiple texts. HTML format.
Gutenberg: Das Nibelungenlied. HTML, EPUB, MOBI and TXT formats.

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Lucan: Pharsalia

La_mort_de_Pompée (anonymous via Wikisource)The Pharsalia or On the Civil War (Latin: De Bello Civili) is an epic by the Roman poet Lucan (39-65 CE) recounting the conflict between Julius Caesar and Pompey. It consists of ten books, of which the last appears to be incomplete, breaking off during Caesar's campaign in Egypt.

Lucan strongly favours the republican side and the poem has been seen as a riposte to the Augustan propaganda of Virgil's Aeneid. Lucan's stoicism is reflected in his portrayal of Cato, and in his avoidance of divine intervention as a plot device.

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Free online texts

Bilingual editions

Loebulus. L220 - Lucan -- The Civil War (Pharsalia). PDF of public domain Loeb edition in Latin and English.

Perseus: Latin text and English translation by Edward Ridley (1896). HTML and XML formats.

English translations

Gutenberg: Pharsalia, Dramatic Episodes of the Civil Wars, edited by Douglas B. Killings (1996). HTML, EPUB, MOBI and TXT formats.

Internet Archive: The Pharsalia, translated by Henry T. Riley (1853). PDF, EPUB, TXT, and MOBI formats.

Medieval and Classical Literature Library: Pharsalia, translated by Edward Ridley (1896). HTML format.

Poetry in Translation: Pharsalia, translated by A.S. Kline (2014). Multiple formats.

University of Adelaide: The Pharsalia of Lucan, translated by Edward Ridley (1896). Multiple formats.

University of Virginia: Lucan's Pharsalia, translated by Arthur Gorges (1614). HTML format.

Latin texts

Intratext: Bellum Civile. HTML format.

Latin Library: De Bello Civili sive Pharsalia. HTML format.

Wikisource: Pharsalia (Book 1). HTML and other formats.

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Ariosto: Orlando Furioso

Jean_Auguste_Dominique_Ingres_-_Roger_Delivering_AngelicaOrlando Furioso (English: The Rage of Roland) is an Italian epic poem by Ludovico Ariosto, published between 1516 and 1532. It is a contuation of Boiardo's Orlando Innamorato, and continues its adaptation of legendary matter from the Matter of France, recounting the sturggle between Charlemagne's paladins and the saracens.  It's popularity, and wide influence in European literature, largely eclipsed that of the earlier work.

Orlando Furioso at Amazon

Free online texts

English translations

Gutenberg: Orlando Furioso, translated by William Stewart Rose. Multiple formats.

Online Medieval and Classical Library (Internet Archive): Orlando Furioso. HTML format.

University of Adelaide: Orlando Furioso, translated by William Stewart Rose. Multiple formats.

Wikisource: Orlando Furioso, translated by William Stewart Rose (currently incomplete). HTML and other formats.

Italian texts

Gutenberg: Orlando Furioso. Multiple formats.

Internet Archive: Orlando Furioso. Vol I | Vol II. | Vol. III. Multiple formats.

Libero: Orlando Furioso. HTML format.

Wikisource: Orlando Furioso. HTML and other formats.

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Torquato Tasso: Jerusalem Delivered

Charles_Errard _Renaud_abandonnant_ArmideJerusalem Delivered (Italian: Gerusalemme Liberata) by Torquato Tasso is an epic poem published in 1581, recounting a almost completely fictionalised version of the first crusade. One of the few quasi-historical characters is the knight Tancredi, who corresponds to the Italo-Norman crusader Tancred, Prince of Galilee.

The work enjoyed immediate and lasting success, in part because of its contemporary resonances at a time of conflict between Western European powers and the Ottoman Empire. It has frequently provided a subject for the visual arts and literary adaptations.

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Free online texts

English translations

Gutenberg: Jerusalem Delivered, translated by Edward Fairfax (c.1635). Multiple formats. 

Internet Archive: Jerusalem Delivered, translated by Edward Fairfax. National Alumni edition. Multiple formats.

Internet Archive: Jerusalem Delivered, translated by J. H. Wiffen. Multiple formats.

Internet Archive: Jerusalem Delivered, translated by John Hoole. Multiple formats.

University of Adelaide: Jerusalem Delivered, translated by Edward Fairfax. Multiple formats.

Italian texts

Internet Archive: Gerusalemme Liberata. Multiple formats.

Wikisource: Gerusalemme Liberata. HTML and other formats.

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Matteo Maria Boiardo: Orlando Innamorato

Orlando_innamoratoOrlando Innamorato (English: Orlando in Love) by Matteo Maria Boiardo is an incomplete epic poem publish in Italian between 1483 and 1495. It chronicles the adventures of Orlando, a romanticised version of legendary Carolingian hero Roland, and particularly his pursuit of the beautiful Angelica.

The work had a powerful influence on later Italian poets, notably Ariosto, who wrote the sequel Orlando Furioso, and Tasso, who borrowed elements for his Gerusalemme Liberata. Ariosto's success overshadowed Boiardo's original to such an extent that it was almost completely lost until its rediscovery in the nineteenth century.

Orlando Innamorato at Amazon

Free online texts

English translations

Gutenberg: Orlando Innamorato. Prose translation with poetic extracts by William Stewart Rose. Multiple formats.

Internet Archive: Orlando Innamorato. Prose translation with poetic extracts by William Stewart Rose. Multiple formats.

University of Adelaide: Orlando Innamorato. Prose translation with poetic extracts by William Stewart Rose. Multiple formats.

Italian texts

Gutenberg: Orlando Innamorato. Multiple formats.

Wikisource: Orlando Innamorato. Multiple formats.

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Spenser: The Faerie Queene

800px-Etty_Britomart_1833The Faerie Queene is an epic poem by Edmund Spenser in six books, of which the first three were published in 1590, with the rest appearing in 1596. Spenser drew on Arthurian legend and contemporary Italian epic to create a poem celebrating the court of Elizabeth I, who appears in the form of the Faerie Queene herself, Gloriana, whose knights pursue a series of quests with strong allegorical elements.

The Faerie Queene at Amazon

Free online texts

Gutenberg: The Faerie Queene, Book I. HTML, EPUB, Kindle and TXT formats. See also this alternative edition.

Internet Archive: Spenser's Faerie Queene, illustrated by Walter Crane. George Allen (1895-97). EPUB, TXT, MOBI, PDF and other formats.

Internet Archive: The Faerie Queene, Vol. I | Vol. II. Clarendon Press (1909). EPUB, TXT, MOBI, PDF and other formats.

Internet Archive: The Faerie Queene, Vol. I | Vol II. Everyman's Library Edition (1910). EPUB, TXT, MOBI, PDF and other formats.

University of Adelaide: The Faerie Queene. HTML, EPUB, TXT and Kindle formats.

Wikisource: The Faerie Queene - incomplete. HTML and other formats.

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Milton: Paradise Lost

William_Blake_-_The_Temptation_and_Fall_of_Eve_(Illustration_to_Milton's_'Paradise_Lost')_-_Google_Art_ProjectParadise Lost is an epic poem by John Milton, originally published in 1667 in ten books, with a second edition in twelve books following in 1667.

It tells the story of Satan's fall from heaven and the temptation of Adam and Eve. Blake wrote of Milton that 'he was of the Devil's party without knowing it' because of his portrayal of Satan as a charismatic antihero. Many critics have seen an underlying tension between Milton's affirmation of divine authority against Satan's rebellion and his support for an English Commonwealth founded on rebellion against the Stuart monarchy.

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Free online texts

Dartmouth College: Paradise Lost. HTML format.

Gutenberg: Paradise Lost. HTML, EPUB, Kindle and TXT formats.

Internet Archive. English Minor Poems, Paradise Lost, Samson Agonistes, Areopagitica. Britannica Great Books edition. EPUB, TXT, MOBI and PDF formats.

University of Adelaide: Paradise Lost. HTML, EPUB, TXT and Kindle formats.

Wikisource: Paradise Lost. Multiple editions. HTML and other formats.

Other Resources

Librivox: Paradise Lost | Paradise Lost (version 2) - public domain audiobooks.

Wikipedia: John Milton - Paradise Lost

The Great Conversation: Further reading at Tom's Learning Notes

Milton: Paradise Regained

The Bible: Genesis, Revelation.

Homer: The Iliad and the Odyssey.

Virgil: The Aeneid

Edmund Spenser: The Faerie Queene.

John Aubrey: Brief Lives - includes a life of Milton.

Alexander Pope: The Rape of the Lock.

Samuel Johnson: Lives of the English Poets.

William Blake: The Marriage of Heaven and Hell.

Percy Bysshe Shelley: A Defence of Poetry.

Mary Shelley: Frankenstein.

John Keats: Endymion.

Harold Bloom's Western Canon - Paradise Lost is included.


Apollonius of Rhodes: Argonautica

Douris_cup_Jason_Vatican_16545The Argonautica (Greek: Αργοναυτικά) is an epic poem by Apollonius of Rhodes, a Hellenistic Greek writer of the third century BCE, centring on Jason's voyage in search of the Golden Fleece. It was the most substantial epic composed between the work of Homer and Virgil, and the first to employ love as a central theme, in the form of Medea's elopement with Jason.

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Free online texts

Gutenberg: The Argonautica, translated by R. C. Seaton. Multiple formats.

Internet Archive: The Argonautica. Bilingual Loeb edition, Greek and facing English translation by R. C. Seaton. Multiple formats.

Loebulus: L001 - Apollonius Rhodius - Argonautica. Bilingual Loeb edition. PDF format.

University of Adelaide: The Argonautica, translated by R.C. Seaton. Multiple formats.

Wikisource: Αργοναυτικά - Greek text. HTML and other formats.

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Valmiki: Ramayana

Battle_at_Lanka _Ramayana _Udaipur _1649-53The Ramayana (Sanskrit: रामायणम्) is one of two great Itihasa or epics of ancient India, along with the Mahabharata. It tells the story of Rama, incarnation of Vishnu and heir to the king of Ayodhya. Following Rama's exile to the forest as a result of court intrigues, his wife Sita is kidnapped by Ravana, the ruler of Lanka. Rama seeks her out and rescues her with the aid of his brother Lakshmana and the monkey Hanuman.

The Ramayana is traditionally attributed to the poet Valmiki, a notable character in the poem itself. Assigning a definite to its composition is difficult, but it is thought to have been written between 500 and 100 BCE.

English translations in the public domain include those by Ralph T.H. Griffith and Romesh C. Dutt.

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Free online texts

Ancient Buddhist Texts: The Ramayana, condensed English verse translation, by Romesh Dutt. PDF, EPUB and MOBI formats.

Bombay.indology.info: The Ramayana. Sanskrit text, TXT format.

GRETIL: Ramayana. Sanskrit text, HTML format.

Gutenberg: The Rámáyan of Válmíki, English verse translation by Ralph T. H. Griffith. Multiple formats.

IIT Kanpur: Valmiki Ramayana, Sanskrit text and Audio, with English translation and commentaries. HTML format.

Internet Archive: Ramayana Bala Kanda | Ayodhya Kanda | Aranya Kanda | Kishkindha Kanda | Sundara Kanda | Yuddha Kanda | Uttara Kanda. English translation, edited by M.N. Dutt. Multiple formats.

Internet Archive: Ramayana, condensed English verse translation, by Romesh Dutt. Multiple formats.

Liberty Library: The Ramayana and the Mahabharata, abridged verse translation by Romesh C. Dutt. Multiple formats.

Sacred texts: Rámáyan of Válmíki, translated by Ralph T. H. Griffith. HTML format.

Sacred Texts: The Ramayana and Mahabharata, abridged verse translation by Romesh C. Dutt (1899). HTML format.

Sanskrit Documents: Valmiki Ramayana. Sanskrit text. Multiple formats.

University of Adelaide: The Rámáyan of Válmíki, English verse translation by Ralph T. H. Griffith. Multiple formats.

ValmikiRamayan.net: Ramayana - Sanskrit text and Audio, with English translation and notes. HTML format.

Wikisource: Sanskrit text and English translation by Ralph T. H. Griffith. HTML and other formats.

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