The body is a problem for epic performance: as a text, epic absents the body, and such absence is a barrier to the modern audience’s full participation. The modern poet might attempt to resolve this issue in one of two ways, either by using the absence as a rhetorical strategy or, alternatively, by reintroducing the body into performed epic. Jorge de Lima’s Invenção de Orfeu (The Invention of Orpheus) (1952) presents one extreme in addressing the absence of the poet’s body, through textual strategies, in his celebration of the literary condensation of past epics as embodiment. By contrast, An Iliad (2014), a stage adaptation by Lisa Peterson and Denis O’Hare, based on Robert Fagles’s translation of Homer’s Iliad, is an actual embodied performance of epic poetry.

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Copyright © 2018 Oxford University Press. This book chapter first appeared in Epic Performances from the Middle Ages into the Twenty-First Century.

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