The Good, the Bad and the Ancient

Essays on the Greco-Roman Influence in Westerns

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About the Book

Although Americans are no longer compelled to learn Greek and Latin, classical ideals remain embedded in American law and politics, philosophy, oratory, history and especially popular culture. In the Western genre, many film and television directors (such as John Ford, Raoul Walsh, Howard Hawks, Anthony Mann and Sam Peckinpah) have drawn inspiration from antiquity, and the classical values and influences in their work have shaped our conceptions of the West for years.
This thought-provoking, first-of-its-kind collection of essays celebrates, affirms and critiques the West’s relationship with the classical world. Explored are films like Cheyenne Autumn, The Wild Bunch, The Track of the Cat, Trooper Hook, The Furies, Heaven’s Gate, and Slow West, as well as serials like Gunsmoke and Lonesome Dove.

About the Author(s)

Sue Matheson is a professor of English at the University College of the North in Manitoba, Canada.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by Sue Matheson
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 227
Bibliographic Info: 18 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2022
pISBN: 978-1-4766-6764-5
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4610-7
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vi
Introduction: America and Antiquity: Force and Thumos in the Western
Sue Matheson 1
Prologos 15
West of “Them”: Classical Allusions in Western Film
Kirsten Day 17
Aristotle and the Wild West: The Western as a Rhetorical Device
Chris Yogerst 37
Tragic Trails in Indian Country 51
Chorei, ­Satyr-Drama, and the Birth of Tragedy in John Ford’s Cheyenne Autumn (1964)
Sue Matheson 53
Peckinpah and the Problem of Catharsis; or: How Well Does The Wild Bunch Fit Aristotle’s Poetics?
Martin M. Winkler 66
Euripidean Sunsets: Tragedy, the Western, and Conflicts Within
Maria Cecília de Miranda N. Coelho 83
Cowboys and Catharsis 97
Pharmakos and the Bad Citizen Topos in Charles Marquis Warren’s Westerns: Trooper Hook, Tension at Table Rock and Charro!
Fernando Gabriel Pagnoni Berns 99
“Scratched blood”: The Erinyes and Anthony Mann’s The Furies
Kelly MacPhail 111
The Splendor of Bart Allison: Antigone and the Tragic Western Hero
Christopher Minz 127
Homer on Horseback 137
Homer’s Odyssey and Cattle Drive Westerns
Andrew Howe 139
Lonesome Dove: Uva uvam vivendo varia fit and Tragic Elements in a Western Epic
Benjamin Hufbauer 151
Blondie’s Odyssey: The Homeric Journey and American Mythmaking in The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
Christopher J. Olson 161
Writing and Rewriting History: Myth in the Iliad and Heaven’s Gate
Brian Brems 171
Catastrophe 187
Gunsmoke’s Boot Hill and the Classical Underworld
Jim Daems 189
Orpheus on the Frontier: Slow West
Cynthia J. Miller 198
Influence of Classical Literature in Western Film: A Selective Bibliography
Camille McCutcheon 211
About the Contributors 213
Index 215