Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey have fascinated listeners and readers for over twenty-five centuries. In this volume of original essays, collected to honor the distinguished career of Emily T. Vermeule, thirty-four leading experts in Homeric studies and related fields provide up-to-date, multidisciplinary accounts of the most current issues in the study of Homer. The book is divided into three sections. The first section treats the Bronze Age setting of the poems (around 1200 B.C.), using archaeological evidence to reveal how poetic memory preserves, distorts, and invents the past. The second section explores the early Iron Age, in which the poems were written (c. 800-500 B.C.), using the strategies of comparative philology and mythology, literary theory, historical linguistics, anthropology, and iconography to determine how the poems took shape. The final section traces the use of Homer for literary and artistic inspiration by classical Greece and Rome.
Approaches to Homer
Edited by Carl A. Rubino and Cynthia W. Shelmerdine University of Texas Press, 1983
Modern Homeric scholarship is distinguished by a dazzling diversity of approaches. That diversity is brilliantly displayed in this volume, in which nine well-known classicists approach the Homeric poems from the various perspectives of archaeology, economic history, philosophy, literary criticism, linguistics, and Byzantine history. Several essays are primarily concerned with what the Homeric poems teach us about the past. Richard Hope Simpson, for example, reviews the controversy sparked by his and John F. Lazenby’s 1970 argument that the Catalogue of Ships in the Iliad accurately reflects the geography of Mycenean Greece. Using archaeology as just one of his starting points, Gregory Nagy reflects upon the death and funeral of Sarpedon as described in the Iliad. Our understanding of the word áté is enhanced by E. D. Francis, who closely examines its prehistory. Norman Austin’s elegant and original discussion of tone in the Odyssey’s Cyclops tale is animated by both psychoanalytic theory and his work with two practitioners of optometric visual training. Writing of Odysseus, James M. Redfield dubs that hero “the economic man” and links certain tensions in the Odyssey to the actual economic concerns of Greece in the late eighth century BC. Both Ann L. T. Bergren and Mabel L. Lang concern themselves with problems of narrative in the Homeric epics. Like Hope Simpson, C. J. Rowe updates a controversy—in this instance, the many objections raised to Arthur Adkins’ influential 1960 study of moral values in Homer. Gareth Morgan provides a fascinating glimpse of the Homeric scholarship of another day by focusing on the work of the astonishing John Tzetzes in twelfth-century Byzantium.
This volume brings together Seth Benardete's studies of Hesiod's Theogony, Homer's Iliad, and Greek tragedy, of eleven Platonic dialogues, and Aristotle's Metaphysics. These essays, some never before published, others difficult to find, span four decades of his work and document its impressive range. Benardete's philosophic reading of the poets and his poetic reading of the philosophers share a common ground that makes this collection a whole. The key, suggested by his reflections on Leo Strauss in the last piece, lies in the question of how to read Plato. Benardete's way is characterized not just by careful attention to the literary form that separates doctrine from dialogue, and speeches from deed; rather, by following the dynamic of these differences, he uncovers the argument that belongs to the dialogue as a whole. The "turnaround" such an argument undergoes bears consequences for understanding the dialogue as radical as the conversion of the philosopher in Plato's image of the cave.
Benardete's original interpretations are the fruits of this discovery of the "argument of the action."
The similes in Homer are treasure troves. They describe scenes of Greek life that are not presented in their simplest form anywhere else: landscapes and seascapes, storms and calm weather, fighting among animals, civic disputes, athletic contests, horse races, community entertainment, women involved in their daily tasks, men running their farms and orchards. These basic paratactic additions to the narrative show how the Greeks found and developed parallels between two scenes—each of which elucidated and interpreted the other—then expressed those scenes in effective poetic language. In The Artistry of the Homeric Simile, Scott explores the variations and modifications that Homer employs in order to make similes blend expressively with the larger context. This engaging study will help unlock the richness of Homer for the modern reader.
At the distant beginning of Western civilization, according to European tradition, Greece stands as an insular, isolated, near-miracle of burgeoning culture. This book traverses the ancient world's three great centers of cultural exchange--Babylonian Nineveh, Egyptian Memphis, and Iranian Persepolis--to situate classical Greece in its proper historical place, at the Western margin of a more comprehensive Near Eastern-Aegean cultural community that emerged in the Bronze Age and expanded westward in the first millennium B.C.
In concise and inviting fashion, Walter Burkert lays out the essential evidence for this ongoing reinterpretation of Greek culture. In particular, he points to the critical role of the development of writing in the ancient Near East, from the achievement of cuneiform in the Bronze Age to the rise of the alphabet after 1000 B.C. From the invention and diffusion of alphabetic writing, a series of cultural encounters between "Oriental" and Greek followed. Burkert details how the Assyrian influences of Phoenician and Anatolian intermediaries, the emerging fascination with Egypt, and the Persian conquests in Ionia make themselves felt in the poetry of Homer and his gods, in the mythic foundations of Greek cults, and in the first steps toward philosophy. A journey through the fluid borderlines of the Near East and Europe, with new and shifting perspectives on the cultural exchanges these produced, this book offers a clear view of the multicultural field upon which the Greek heritage that formed Western civilization first appeared.
A founding father of the “art of philology,” Aristarchus of Samothrace (216–144 BCE) made a profound contribution to ancient scholarship. In his study of Homer’s Iliad, his methods and principles inevitably informed, even reshaped, his edition of the epic. This systematic study places Aristarchus and his fragments preserved in the Iliadic scholia, or marginal annotations, in the context and cultural environment of his own time.
Francesca Schironi presents a more robust picture of Aristarchus as a scholar than anyone has offered previously. Based on her analysis of over 4,300 fragments from his commentary on the Iliad, she reconstructs Aristarchus’ methodology and its relationship to earlier scholarship, especially Aristotelian poetics. Schironi departs from the standard commentary on individual fragments, and instead organizes them by topic to produce a rigorous scholarly examination of how Aristarchus worked.
Combining the accuracy and detail of traditional philology with a big-picture study of recurrent patterns and methodological trends across Aristarchus’ work, this volume offers a new approach to scholarship in Alexandrian and classical philology. It will be the go-to reference book on this topic for many years to come, and will usher in a new way of addressing the highly technical work of ancient scholars without losing philological accuracy. This book will be valuable to classicists and philologists interested in Homer and Homeric criticism in antiquity, Hellenistic scholarship, and ancient literary criticism.
In Epic of the Dispossessed, Robert D. Hamner offers an insightful, well-researched analysis of Omeros, the masterful epic poem by 1992 Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott. Rich and various, Omeros is an innovative extension of the epic tradition. Despite Walcott's insistence that he violates the formulaþhe notes his autobiographical presence in the poem and the absence of classical heroic figures and epic battlesþthe poem incorporates fragments of all the definitive characteristics of the genre. Hamner establishes that through its self-reflexive textuality, Omeros complements the time-honored tradition of the epic by giving voice to the marginalized peoples of the New World.
Hamner briefly explains his perception of the epic tradition and its viability in contemporary literature. He examines Walcott's writing career and traces his development of devices, themes, techniques, and a narrative style essential to epic poetry. Although Walcott could not have fully anticipated Omeros, a retrospective view of his writing reveals the consistent accumulation of the skills and broad scope required for such an undertaking. Hamner attempts also to show that Walcott has incorporated into his personal style not only the more obvious aspects of his formal education but also uniquely West Indian cultural material and forms of expression.
Hamner describes Omeros as an epic of the dispossessed because each of its protagonists is a castaway in one sense or another. Regardless of whether their ancestry is traced to the classical Mediterranean, Europe, Africa, or confined to the Americas, they are transplanted individuals whose separate quests all center on the fundamental human need to strike roots in a place where one belongs.
Walcott's vivid, lyrical verse is visually compelling and aurally appealing. He is, however, a richly complex, allusive writer dealing with a wide range of profound human problems. Given the exciting climate of postcolonial and postmodern criticism, Walcott offers students and scholars unparalleled opportunities for challenging, creatively interpretive insights. Epic of the Dispossessed will be a valuable companion to the work that may prove to be Walcott's crowning achievement. The fresh and original Omeros stands on its own merits; nevertheless, it deserves to be examined in light of both Western tradition and its Caribbean context.
A magisterial book by one of our most distinguished literary historians, Esteem Enlivened by Desire illuminates (and celebrates) the ideal of lasting love from antiquity to the high Renaissance. Love that leads to marriage is a relatively recent "invention," or so critics and historians often say. But in this remarkable survey, Jean H. Hagstrum argues that long-term commitment formed of friendship and passion is one of Western culture's oldest and richest concepts.
Hagstrum looks mainly at depictions of love in art and literature, works of the imagination that reflect social reality but also often transcend it to challenge restrictive codes and open up new possibilities for human nature. Among these possibilities, the association of esteem with sexual desire is one of the most invigorating that artists and thinkers have ever addressed. Tracing this motif through many different kinds of expression—from the Homeric epics, the Oresteia, Augustine's Confessions to the stories of Ovid, the Decameron, the plays and sonnets of Shakespeare—Hagstrum also illuminates a number of related themes, including other forms of relationship, from friendship to lust; marriage for political ends; liaisons with the same sex; and the presence of passion in religious commitment.
The culmination of Hagstrum's long career, Esteem Enlivened by Desire offers generous insight into the amorous heritage of the West—and honors one of its most important, enduring, and hard-won achievements.
Exploring the functions of space in the Iliad, Christos Tsagalis shows how active spatial representation in similes and descriptive passages influences characterization and narrative action. He also analyzes Homeric modes of visual memory, implicit knowledge, and mnemonic formats in order to better understand descriptive and ekphrastic passages.
Tracing the interrelationship among play, poetic imitation, and power to the Hellenic world, Mihai I. Spariosu provides a revisionist model of cultural change in Greek antiquity. Challenging the traditional and static distinction made between archaic and later Greek culture, Spariosu’s perspective is grounded in a dialectical understanding of values whose dominance depends on cultural emphasis and which shifts through time. Building upon the scholarship of an earlier volume, Dionysus Reborn, Spariosu her continues to draw on Dionysus—the “God of many names,” of both poetic play and sacred power—as a mythical embodiment of the two sides of the classical Greek mentality. Combining philosophical reflection with close textual analysis, the author examines the divided nature of the Hellenic mentality in such primary canonic texts as the Iliad, the Odyssey, the Theogony, Works and Days, the most well-known of the Presocratic fragments, Euripides’ Bacchae, Aristophanes’ The Frogs, Plato’s Republic and Laws, and Aristotle’s Poetics and Politics. Spariosu’s model illuminates the many of the most enduring questions in contemporary humanistic study and addresses modern questions about the nature of the interrelation of poetry, ethics, and politics.
Grief and the Hero examines Achilles’ experience of the futility of grief in the context of the Iliad’s study of anger. No action can undo his friend Patroklos’ death, but the experience of death drives him to behave as though he can achieve something restorative. Rather than assuming that grief gives rise to anger, as most scholars have done, Grief and the Hero pays close attention to the poem’s representation of the origin of these emotions. In the Iliad, only Achilles’ grief for Patroklos is joined with the word pothê, “longing”; no other grief in the poem is described with this term. The Iliad depicts Achilles’ grief as the rupture of shared life—an insight that generates a new way of reading the epic. Achilles’ anguish drives him to extremes, oscillating between self-isolation and seeking communal expressions of grief; between weeping abundantly and relentlessly pursuing battle; between varied threats of mutilation, deeds of vengeance, and other vows. Yet his yearning for life shared with Patroklos is the common denominator. Here lies the profound insight of the Iliad. All of Achilles’ grief-driven deeds arise from his longing for life with Patroklos, and thus all of these deeds are, in a deep sense, futile. He yearns for something unattainable—undoing the reality of death. Grief and the Hero will appeal not only to scholars and students of Homer but to all humanists. Loss, longing, and even revenge touch many human lives, and the insights of the Iliad have broad resonance.
In The Heart of Achilles, Graham Zanker addresses the task of reconstructing the ethical thought-world in which the characters of the Iliad live and move. It is only against this background, Zanker argues, that we can convincingly place the ethical status of the heroes and their actions. This in turn helps us to form a comprehensive view of the Iliad'scharacterization of its people, especially that of Achilles, by examining all his responses to the question of allegiance, the value of heroic prowess, and of life itself.
"[Zanker] investigates altruistic behavior in the epic with professional sophistication but in a way that makes his investigation available to a wide audience from undergraduates to advanced scholars. . . . [A] very useful interpretative study." --Choice
Graham Zanker is Senior Lecturer in Classics, University of Canterbury, New Zealand.
Before they were written down, the poems attributed to Homer were performed orally, usually by rhapsodes (singers/reciters) who might have traveled from city to city or enjoyed a position in a wealthy household. Even after the Iliad and the Odyssey were committed to writing, rhapsodes performed the poems at festivals, often competing against each other. As they recited the epics, the rhapsodes spoke as both the narrator and the characters. These different acts—performing the poem and narrating and speaking in character within it—are seldom studied in tandem. Homer in Performance breaks new ground by bringing together all of the speakers involved in the performance of Homeric poetry: rhapsodes, narrators, and characters. The first part of the book presents a detailed history of the rhapsodic performance of Homeric epic from the Archaic to the Roman Imperial periods and explores how performers might have shaped the poems. The second part investigates the Homeric narrators and characters as speakers and illuminates their interactions. The contributors include scholars versed in epigraphy, the history of art, linguistics, and performance studies, as well as those capable of working with sources from the ancient Near East and from modern Russia. This interdisciplinary approach makes the volume useful to a spectrum of readers, from undergraduates to veteran professors, in disciplines ranging from classical studies to folklore.
Homer: The Very Idea
James I. Porter University of Chicago Press, 2021 Library of Congress PA4037.P645 2021 | Dewey Decimal 883.01
The story of our ongoing fascination with Homer, the man and the myth.
Homer, the great poet of the Iliad and the Odyssey, is revered as a cultural icon of antiquity and a figure of lasting influence. But his identity is shrouded in questions about who he was, when he lived, and whether he was an actual person, a myth, or merely a shared idea. Rather than attempting to solve the mystery of this character, James I. Porter explores the sources of Homer’s mystique and their impact since the first recorded mentions of Homer in ancient Greece.
Homer: The Very Idea considers Homer not as a man, but as a cultural invention nearly as distinctive and important as the poems attributed to him, following the cultural history of an idea and of the obsession that is reborn every time Homer is imagined. Offering novel readings of texts and objects, the book follows the very idea of Homer from his earliest mentions to his most recent imaginings in literature, criticism, philosophy, visual art, and classical archaeology.
Homer's stories of Troy are part of the foundations of Western culture. What's less well known is that they also inspired Ottoman-Turkish cultural traditions. Yet even with all the historical and archaeological research into Homer and Troy, most scholars today rely heavily on Western sources, giving Ottoman work in the field short shrift. This book helps right that balance, exploring Ottoman-Turkish involvement and interest in the subject between 1870, when Heinrich Schliemann began his excavations in search of Troy on Ottoman soil, and the battle of Gallipoli in 1915, which gave the Turks their own version of the heroic epic of Troy.
Performances of Greek epics customarily began with a hymn to a god or goddess--as Hesiod's Theogony and Works and Days do. A collection of thirty-three such poems has come down to us from antiquity under the title "Hymns of Homer." This new Loeb Classical Library volume contains, in addition to the Hymns, fragments of five comic poems that were connected with Homer's name in or just after the Classical period (but are not today believed to be by the author of the Iliad and the Odyssey). Here too is a collection of ancient accounts of the poet's life.
The Hymns range widely in length: two are over 500 lines long; several run only a half dozen lines. Among the longest are the hymn To Demeter, which tells the foundational story of the Eleusinian Mysteries; and To Hermes, distinctive in being amusing. The comic poems gathered as Homeric Apocrypha include Margites, the Battle of Frogs and Mice, and, for the first time in English, a fragment of a perhaps earlier poem of the same type called Battle of the Weasel and the Mice. The edition of Lives of Homer contains The Contest of Homer and Hesiod and nine other biographical accounts, translated into English for the first time.
Martin West's faithful and pleasing translations are fully annotated; his freshly edited texts offer new solutions to a number of textual puzzles.
By Gregory Nagy University of Texas Press, 1996 Library of Congress PA4037.N345 1996 | Dewey Decimal 883.01
The "Homeric Question" has vexed Classicists for generations. Was the author of the Iliad and the Odyssey a single individual who created the poems at a particular moment in history? Or does the name "Homer" hide the shaping influence of the epic tradition during a long period of oral composition and transmission? In this innovative investigation, Gregory Nagy applies the insights of comparative linguistics and anthropology to offer a new historical model for understanding how, when, where, and why the Iliad and the Odyssey were ultimately preserved as written texts that could be handed down over two millennia. His model draws on the comparative evidence provided by living oral epic traditions, in which each performance of a song often involves a recomposition of the narrative. This evidence suggests that the written texts emerged from an evolutionary process in which composition, performance, and diffusion interacted to create the epics we know as the Iliad and the Odyssey. Sure to challenge orthodox views and provoke lively debate, Nagy’s book will be essential reading for all students of oral traditions.
By Gregory Nagy University of Texas Press, 2003 Library of Congress PA4037.N347 2003 | Dewey Decimal 883.01
The Homeric Iliad and Odyssey are among the world’s foremost epics. Yet, millennia after their composition, basic questions remain about them. Who was Homer—a real or an ideal poet? When were the poems composed—at a single point in time, or over centuries of composition and performance? And how were the poems committed to writing? These uncertainties have been known as The Homeric Question, and many scholars, including Gregory Nagy, have sought to solve it. In Homeric Responses, Nagy presents a series of essays that further elaborate his theories regarding the oral composition and evolution of the Homeric epics. Building on his previous work in Homeric Questions and Poetry as Performance: Homer and Beyond and responding to some of his critics, he examines such issues as the importance of performance and the interaction between audience and poet in shaping the poetry; the role of the rhapsode (the performer of the poems) in the composition and transmission of the poetry; the “irreversible mistakes” and cross-references in the Iliad and Odyssey as evidences of artistic creativity; and the Iliadic description of the shield of Achilles as a pointer to the world outside the poem, the polis of the audience.
Homer's Text and Language
Gregory Nagy University of Illinois Press, 2004 Library of Congress PA4037.N348 2004 | Dewey Decimal 883.01
As Homer remains an indispensable figure in the canons of world literature, interpreting the Homeric text is a challenging and high stakes enterprise. There are untold numbers of variations, imitations, alternate translations, and adaptations of the Iliad and Odyssey, making it difficult to establish what, exactly, the epics were. Gregory Nagy's essays have one central aim: to show how the text and language of Homer derive from an oral poetic system.
In Homeric studies, there has been an ongoing debate centering on different ways to establish the text of Homer and the different ways to appreciate the poetry created in the language of Homer. Gregory Nagy, a lifelong Homer scholar, takes a stand in the midst of this debate. He presents an overview of millennia of scholarly engagement with Homer's poetry, shows the different editorial principles that have been applied to the texts, and evaluates their impact.
The Iliad of Homer
Homer University of Chicago Press, 2011 Library of Congress PA4025.A2L38 2011 | Dewey Decimal 883.01
"Sing, goddess, the anger of Peleus’ son Achilleus / and its devastation." For sixty years, that's how Homer has begun the Iliad in English, in Richmond Lattimore's faithful translation—the gold standard for generations of students and general readers.
This long-awaited new edition of Lattimore's Iliad is designed to bring the book into the twenty-first century—while leaving the poem as firmly rooted in ancient Greece as ever. Lattimore's elegant, fluent verses—with their memorably phrased heroic epithets and remarkable fidelity to the Greek—remain unchanged, but classicist Richard Martin has added a wealth of supplementary materials designed to aid new generations of readers. A new introduction sets the poem in the wider context of Greek life, warfare, society, and poetry, while line-by-line notes at the back of the volume offer explanations of unfamiliar terms, information about the Greek gods and heroes, and literary appreciation. A glossary and maps round out the book.
The result is a volume that actively invites readers into Homer's poem, helping them to understand fully the worlds in which he and his heroes lived—and thus enabling them to marvel, as so many have for centuries, at Hektor and Ajax, Paris and Helen, and the devastating rage of Achilleus.
The Iliad of Homer
Translated by Richmond Lattimore University of Chicago Press, 1951 Library of Congress PA4025.A2L35 | Dewey Decimal 883.1
"The finest translation of Homer ever made into the English language."—William Arrowsmith
"Certainly the best modern verse translation."—Gilbert Highet
"This magnificent translation of Homer's epic poem . . . will appeal to admirers of Homer and the classics, and the multitude who always wanted to read the great Iliad but never got around to doing so."—The American Book Collector
"Perhaps closer to Homer in every way than any other version made in English."—Peter Green, The New Republic
"The feat is decisive that it is reasonable to foresee a century or so in which nobody will try again to put the Iliad in English verse."—Robert Fitzgerald
"Each new generation is bound to produce new translations. [Lattimore] has done better with nobility, as well as with accuracy, than any other modern verse translator. In our age we do not often find a fine scholar who is also a genuine poet and who takes the greatest pains over the work of translation."—Hugh Lloyd-Jones, New York Review of Books
"Over the long haul Lattimore's translation is more powerful because its effects are more subtle."—Booklist
"Richmond Lattimore is a fine translator of poetry because he has a poetic voice of his own, authentic and unmistakable and yet capable of remarkable range of modulation. His translations make the English reader aware of the poetry."—Moses Hadas, The New York Times
The plots of Homeric poems depend upon the uncertainty of Odysseus and Achilles getting what they want, while the endings imply that getting what one wants may itself be a disaster. By examining specific episodes of the Odyssey, Mark Buchan illustrates the centrality of hazard and doubt to decision-making, and argues that such uncertainty affects not only the heroes themselves, but also the world around them. Buchan goes on to introduce the paradoxes of female desire in the poems, uncovering the ways that female desire at once upholds and threatens the poems' heroic male ideology. Finally, The Limits of Heroism questions the interplay between desire and ideals of heroism, and finds that the poems critique the very ideology that motivates their heroes.
The Homeric poems were not intended for readers, but for a listening audience. Traditional in their basic elements, the stories were learned by oral poets from earlier poets and recreated at every performance. Individual nuances, tailored to the audience, could creep into the stories of the Greek heroes on each and every occasion when a bard recited the epics.
For a particular audience at a particular moment, "tradition" is what it believes it has inherited from the past--and it may not be particularly old. The boundaries between the traditional and the innovative may become blurry and indistinct. By rethinking tradition, we can see Homer's methods and concerns in a new light. The Homeric poet is not naive. He must convince his audience that the story is true. He must therefore seem disinterested, unconcerned with promoting anyone's interests. The poet speaks as if everything he says is merely the repetition of old tales. Yet he carefully ensures that even someone who knows only a minimal amount about the ancient heroes can follow and enjoy the performance, while someone who knows many stories will not remember inappropriate ones. Pretending that every detail is already familiar, the poet heightens suspense and implies that ordinary people are the real judges of great heroes.
Listening to Homer transcends present controversies about Homeric tradition and invention by rethinking how tradition functions. Focusing on reception rather than on composition, Ruth Scodel argues that an audience would only rarely succeed in identifying narrative innovation. Homeric narrative relies on a traditionalizing, inclusive rhetoric that denies the innovation of the oral performance while providing enough information to make the epics intelligible to audiences for whom much of the material is new.
Listening to Homer will be of interest to general classicists, as well as to those specializing in Greek epic and narrative performance. Its wide breadth and scope will also appeal to those non-classicists interested in the nature of oral performance.
Ruth Scodel is Professor of Greek and Latin, University of Michigan, and former president of the American Philological Association.
"Ruth Scodel's Listening to Homer proves it is still possible to explore the workings of epic without recourse to a battery of jargon or technicalities. This is not a 'one big idea' book but a rich . . . set of reflections; it makes refreshing reading . . . ."
---Greece & Rome
"This is an important book, putting the receiving rather than the sending side of the performance of the Homeric epics center stage. The many observations on narrative technique are often new and worthwhile."
---Irene J.F. de Jong, Gnomon
Michelle Zerba’s Modern Odysseys explores three major writers in global modernism from the Mediterranean, Anglo-European Britain, and the Caribbean whose groundbreaking literary works have never been studied together before. Using language as an instrument of revolution and social change, C. P. Cavafy, Virginia Woolf, and Aimé Césaire gave expression to the forms of human experience we now associate with modernity: homoeroticism, transsexuality, and racial consciousness. More specifically, Zerba argues that Odyssean tropes of diffusion, isolation, passage, and return give form to works by these writers but in ways that invite us to reconsider and revise the basic premises of reception studies and intellectual history.
Combining close readings of literary texts with the study of interviews, essays, diaries, and letters, Zerba advances a revisionary account of how to approach relationships between antiquity and modernity. Instead of frontal encounters with the Odyssey, Cavafy, Woolf, and Césaire indirectly—but no less significantly—engage with Homer’s epic poem. In demonstrating how such encounters operate, Modern Odysseys explores issues of race and sexuality that connect antiquity with the modern period.
No matter when or where they are fought, all wars have one thing in common: a relentless progression to monuments and memorials for the dead. Likewise all art made from war begins and ends in mourning and remembrance. In The Mourner's Song, James Tatum offers incisive discussions of physical and literary memorials constructed in the wake of war, from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial to the writings of Stephen Crane, Edmund Wilson, Tim O'Brien, and Robert Lowell.
Tatum's touchstone throughout is the Iliad, not just one of the earliest war poems, but also one of the most powerful examples of the way poetry can be a tribute to and consolation for what is lost in war. Reading the Iliad alongside later works inspired by war, Tatum reveals how the forms and processes of art convert mourning to memorial. He examines the role of remembrance and the distance from war it requires; the significance of landscape in memorialization; the artifacts of war that fire the imagination; the intimate relationship between war and love and its effects on the ferocity with which soldiers wage battle; and finally, the idea of memorialization itself. Because all survivors suffer the losses of war, Tatum's is a story of both victims and victors, commanders and soldiers, women and men. Photographs of war memorials in Vietnam, France, and the United States beautifully augment his testimonials.
Eloquent and deeply moving, The Mourner's Song will speak to anyone interested in the literature of war and the relevance of the classics to our most pressing contemporary needs.
Ekphrasis is the art of describing works of art, the verbal representation of visual representation. Profoundly ambivalent, ekphrastic poetry celebrates the power of the silent image even as it tries to circumscribe that power with the authority of the word. Over the ages its practitioners have created a museum of words about real and imaginary paintings and sculptures.
In the first book ever to explore this museum, James Heffernan argues that ekphrasis stages a battle for mastery between the image and the word. Moving from the epics of Homer, Virgil, and Dante to contemporary American poetry, this book treats the history of struggle between rival systems of representation. Readable and well illustrated, this study of how poets have represented painting and sculpture is a major contribution to our understanding of the relation between the arts.
By focusing on the story of Hector, James M. Redfield presents an imaginative perspective not only on the Iliad but also on the whole of Homeric culture. In an expansive discussion informed by a reinterpretation of Aristotle's Poetics and a reflection on the human meaning of narrative art, the analysis of Hector leads to an inquiry into the fundamental features of Homeric culture and of culture generally in its relation to nature. Through Hector, as the "true tragic hero of the poem," the events and themes of the Iliad are understood and the function of tragedy within culture is examined. Redfield's work represents a significant application of anthropological perspectives to Homeric poetry. Originally published in 1975 (University of Chicago Press), this revised edition includes a new preface and concluding chapter by the author.
Literary recognition is a technical term for a climactic plot device. Odysseys of Recognition claims that interpersonal recognition is constituted by performance, and brings performance theory into dialogue with poetics, politics, and philosophy. By observing Odysseus figures from Homer to Kleist, Ellwood Wiggins offers an alternative to conventional intellectual histories that situate the invention of the interior self in modernity. Through strategic readings of Aristotle, this elegantly written, innovative study recovers an understanding of interpersonal recognition that has become strange and counterintuitive. Penelope in Homer’s Odyssey offers a model for agency in ethical knowledge that has a lot to teach us today. Early modern and eighteenth-century characters, meanwhile, discover themselves not deep within an impenetrable self, but in the interpersonal space between people in the world. Recognition, Wiggins contends, is the moment in which epistemology and ethics coincide: in which what we know becomes manifest in what we do.
Published by Bucknell University Press. Distributed worldwide by Rutgers University Press.
Two combatants, one ring, and a battle governed as much by determination and drive as by rules and referees: that’s boxing. Perfect in Their Art: Poems on Boxing from Homer to Ali spans the millennia to present more than one hundred of the finest in pugilism poetry from both oral and written traditions, celebrating the lasting literary, historical, and cultural significance of boxing’s storied heritage.
Editors Robert Hedin and Michael Waters pulled no punches in assembling the definitive poems and poets of the sport. Works by such classical poets as Homer, Virgil, and Pindar are gathered here side-by-side for the first time with the poems of Lord Byron, William Makepeace Thackeray, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. This provocative collection also features more recent literary heavyweights, including Langston Hughes, Maya Angelou, Joyce Carol Oates, Philip Levine, Wislawa Szymborska, Ai, Yusef Komunyakaa, James Merrill, and Norman Mailer. Equally impressive is this anthology’s rich sampling of boxing music, including ballads, blues, marches, waltzes, and pop lyrics. Irving Berlin, Memphis Minnie, Leadbelly, Paul Simon, Warren Zevon, and Bob Dylan are only a few of the songwriters in this volume compelled to honor the sweet science.
Complemented by a foreword from On the Waterfront author Budd Schulberg, Perfect in Their Art offers glimpses into the boxing ring’s literal and metaphoric place as a popular stage for brutal but artful combat. Together these poems celebrate the heroes and traditions of this most primal competition across its many eras to provide an accurate, graceful, and spirited evocation of boxing’s cultural legacy as both sport and art.
Homer’s Iliad is often considered a poem of blunt truthfulness, his characters’ motivation pleasingly simple. A closer look, however, reveals a complex interplay of characters who engage in an awful lot of lies. Beginning with Achilles, who hatches a secret plot to destroy his own people, Mark Buchan traces motifs of deception and betrayal throughout the poem. Homer’s heroes offer bluster, their passion linked to and explained by their lack of authenticity. Buchan reads Homer’s characters between the lies, showing how the plot is structured individual denial and what cannot be said.
This new study challenges traditional ways of reading Plato by showing that his philosophy and political theory cannot be understood apart from a consideration of the literary or aesthetic features of his writing. More specifically, it shows how Plato’s well-known cosmological dialogues—the Phaedrus, Timaeus, and Critias—are structured using several books of the Odyssey as their shared source text.
While there has recently been much scholarly discussion of the relation between poetry and philosophy in Plato’s dialogues, little of it addresses questions central to thoroughgoing literary criticism. Planinc’s work is unique in that it shows the significance of Plato’s extensive refiguring of key episodes in the Odyssey for an interpretation of his political philosophy.
Plato’s cosmological dialogues are almost always discussed topically. The Timaeus is picked through for its theological or scientific doctrines; the Critias is reduced to its Atlantis story, or puzzled over because of its ostensible incompleteness; and the Phaedrus is read for its parallels to modern understandings of erotics or rhetoric. The dialogues are not usually considered in relation to one another, and then only in the context of developmental schemes primarily concerned with distinguishing periods in Plato’s metaphysical doctrines.
Planinc argues that the main literary features of the Phaedrus,Timaeus, and Critias are taken from books 6 to 9 of the Odyssey, the largest part of the story of Odysseus’s stay with the Phaeacians, from the time he swims to shore and encounters Nausicaa to the time he reveals his identity and begins recounting his earlier travels after hearing Demodocus’s songs. By exploring the full range of the many charming and intriguing things the dialogues present in this literary context, he shows that they are a coherent, unified part of Plato’s corpus.
Plato through Homer takes a radically new approach to Plato’s texts that illuminates their literary and philosophic significance and highlights their enduring appeal.
Reading Homer’s Odyssey
Kostas Myrsiades Bucknell University Press, 2019 Library of Congress PA4167.M97 2019 | Dewey Decimal 883.01
Finalist for the 2020 PROSE Awards, Classics section
Homer’s Odyssey is the first great travel narrative in Western culture. A compelling tale about the consequences of war, and about redemption, transformation, and the search for home, the Odyssey continues to be studied in universities and schools, and to be read and referred to by ordinary readers. Reading Homer’s Odyssey offers a book-by-book commentary on the epic’s themes that informs the non-specialist and engages the seasoned reader in new perspectives. Among the themes discussed are hospitality, survival, wealth, reputation and immortality, the Olympian gods, self-reliance and community, civility, behavior, etiquette and technology, ease, inactivity and stagnation, Penelope’s relationship with Odysseus, Telemachus’ journey, Odysseus’ rejection of Calypso’s offer of immortality, Odysseus’ lies, Homer’s use of the House of Atreus and other myths, the cinematic qualities of the epic’s structure, women’s role in the epic, and the Odyssey’s true ending. Footnotes clarify and elaborate upon myths that Homer leaves unfinished, explain terms and phrases, and provide background information. The volume concludes with a general bibliography of work on the Odyssey, in addition to the bibliographies that accompany each book’s commentary.
Published by Bucknell University Press. Distributed worldwide by Rutgers University Press.
In The Revelation of Imagination, William Franke attempts to focus on what is enduring and perennial rather than on what is accommodated to the agenda of the moment. Franke’s book offers re-actualized readings of representative texts from the Bible, Homer, and Virgil to Augustine and Dante. The selections are linked together in such a way as to propose a general interpretation of knowledge. They emphasize, moreover, a way of articulating the connection of humanities knowledge with what may, in various senses, be called divine revelation. This includes the sort of inspiration to which poets since Homer have typically laid claim, as well as that proper to the biblical tradition of revealed religion. The Revelation of Imagination invigorates the ongoing discussion about the value of humanities as a source of enduring knowledge.
In Sardonic Smile, Donald Lateiner examines every major variety of Homeric nonverbal behavior, especially those found in the Odyssey. Noting differences from modern gestures and attending to variation that results from gender, age, and status, Lateiner explores the "silent language" and "what goes without saying" among the heroes Odysseus, Telemakhos, and Penelope--but also the savage Kyklops, the suitors, and the servants. No previous work has thoroughly analyzed nonverbal behavior in Homeric epic. Gesture and posture, conscious and unconscious manipulation of space and time, and involuntary "leakage," such as twitching and shivering, can intensify and underline--or contradict and ironize--the speech of characters and hexameter narrative.
Shipwrecked: Disaster and Transformation in Homer, Shakespeare, Defoe, and the Modern World presents the first comparative study of notable literary shipwrecks from the past four thousand years, focusing on Homer’s Odyssey, Shakespeare’s The Tempest, and Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe. James V. Morrison considers the historical context as well as the “triggers” (such as the 1609 Bermuda shipwreck) that inspired some of these works, and modern responses such as novels (Golding’s Lord of the Flies, Coetzee’s Foe, and Gordon’s First on Mars, a science fiction version of the Crusoe story), movies, television (Forbidden Planet, Cast Away, and Lost), and the poetry and plays of Caribbean poets Derek Walcott and Aimé Césaire.
The recurrent treatment of shipwrecks in the creative arts demonstrates an enduring fascination with this archetypal scene: a shipwreck survivor confronting the elements. It is remarkable, for example, that the characters in the 2004 television show Lost share so many features with those from Homer’s Odyssey and Shakespeare’s The Tempest.
For survivors who are stranded on an island for some period of time, shipwrecks often present the possibility of a change in political and social status—as well as romance and even paradise. In each of the major shipwreck narratives examined, the poet or novelist links the castaways’ arrival on a new shore with the possibility of a new sort of life. Readers will come to appreciate the shift in attitude toward the opportunities offered by shipwreck: older texts such as the Odyssey reveals a trajectory of returning to the previous order. In spite of enticing new temptations, Odysseus—and some of the survivors in The Tempest—revert to their previous lives, rejecting what many might consider paradise. Odysseus is reestablished as king; Prospero travels back to Milan. In such situations, we may more properly speak of potential transformations. In contrast, many recent shipwreck narratives instead embrace the possibility of a new sort of existence. That even now the shipwreck theme continues to be treated, in multiple media, testifies to its long-lasting appeal to a very wide audience.
In Siren Songs: Gender, Audiences, and Narrators in the Odyssey, Lillian Eileen Doherty shows us that the attitude of Odysseus, as well as of the Odyssey, is highly ambivalent toward women. Odysseus rewards supportive female characters by treating them as privileged members of the audience for his own tales. At the same time, dangerous female narrators--who threaten to disrupt or revise the hero's story--are discredited by the narrative framework in which their stories appear.
Siren Songs synthesizes audience-oriented and narratological approaches, and examines the relationships among three kinds of audiences: internal, implied, and actual. The author prefaces her own reading of the Odyssey with an analysis of the issues posed by the earlier feminist readings on which she builds. Should the Odyssey be read as a "closed" text, that is, as one whose meaning is highly determined, or as an "open" text whose contradictions and ambiguities undercut its overt meanings?
Siren Songs presents a feminist critique of the Odyssey in an accessible manner aimed at a more general audience. All Greek is translated, and critical terminology is clearly defined.
Lillian Eileen Doherty is Associate Professor of Classics, University of Maryland, College Park.
The Iliad and the Odyssey are emotional powerhouses largely because of their extensive use of direct speech. Yet this characteristic of the Homeric epics has led scholars to underplay the poems’ use of non-direct speech, the importance of speech represented by characters, and the overall sophistication of Homeric narrative as measured by its approach to speech representation. In this pathfinding study, by contrast, Deborah Beck undertakes the first systematic examination of all the speeches presented in the Homeric poems to show that Homeric speech presentation is a unified system that includes both direct quotation and non-direct modes of speech presentation. Drawing on the fields of narratology and linguistics, Beck demonstrates that the Iliad and the Odyssey represent speech in a broader and more nuanced manner than has been perceived before, enabling us to reevaluate our understanding of supposedly “modern” techniques of speech representation and to refine our idea of where Homeric poetry belongs in the history of Western literature. She also broadens ideas of narratology by connecting them more strongly with relevant areas of linguistics, as she uses both to examine the full range of speech representational strategies in the Homeric poems. Through this in-depth analysis of how speech is represented in the Homeric poems, Beck seeks to make both the process of their composition and the resulting poems themselves seem more accessible, despite pervasive uncertainties about how and when the poems were put together.
"[Heitman] provides a sensitive critical study of the Odyssey in which he strives to better appreciate the poem by focusing on the familial interactions in Ithaca . . . Heitman's interpretations . . . are unfailingly clear and thought-provoking. Highly recommended."
"It is an example of a neat and valuable contribution which is both intelligible to non-specialists and inspiring for psychologists and classicists. It demonstrates that research into Homer still is . . . capable of extracting ever-new exciting ideas from Homer's texts."
---Bryn Mawr Classical Review
Taking Her Seriously is a reevaluation of Penelope, one of the most universally admired female characters in Western classical literature. Casting her in a new light, Richard Heitman emphasizes the courage, steadfastness, and integrity of this iconic figure while she faces potentially tragic decisions.
Homer's treatment of events in Ithaca and the motivations of Penelope throughout the denser books of the Odyssey reveals a complicated, serious, independent, and insightful thinker whose actions are crucial to guaranteeing the well-being of her home and a safe future for her son, and for Odysseus as well.
Through this thematic approach to the text, Penelope comes into focus as a loving wife whose role is far more important than passive fidelity to a wandering husband. Her integrity and wisdom in Odysseus' absence set the stage for his violent and triumphant return, and secure her place as a female role model in even the most modern of contexts.
Richard Heitman is Assistant Professor of Classics and Philosophy at Carthage College.
In an attempt to subject representative texts of a dozen ancient authors to a more or less Socratic inquiry, the noted scholar George Anastaplo suggests in The Thinker as Artist how one might usefully read as well as enjoy such texts, which illustrate the thinking done by the greatest artists and how they “talk” among themselves across the centuries. In doing so, he does not presume to repeat the many fine things said about these and like authors, but rather he discusses what he himself has noticed about them, text by text.
Drawing upon a series of classical authors ranging from Homer and Sappho to Plato and Aristotle, Anastaplo examines issues relating to chance, art, nature, and divinity present in the artful works of philosophers and other thinkers.
As he has done in his earlier work, Anastaplo mines the great texts to help us discover who we are and what we should be. Some of the works used are familiar, while others were once better known than they are now. The approach to all of them is fresh and provocative, demonstrating the value of such texts in showing the reader what to look for and how to talk about matters that have always engaged thoughtful human beings.
These imaginative yet disciplined discussions of important texts of ancient Greek thought and of Raphael’s The School of Athens should appeal to both the specialist and the general reader.
The Unknown Odysseus is a study of how Homer creates two versions of his hero, one who is the triumphant protagonist of the revenge plot and another, more subversive, anonymous figure whose various personae exemplify an entirely different set of assumptions about the world through which each hero moves and about the shape and meaning of human life. Separating the two perspectives allows us to see more clearly how the poem's dual focus can begin to explain some of the notorious difficulties readers have encountered in thinking about the Odyssey. In The Unknown Odysseus, Thomas Van Nortwick offers the most complete exploration to date of the implications of Odysseus' divided nature, showing how it allows Homer to explore the riddles of human identity in a profound way that is not usually recognized by studies focusing on only one "real" hero in the narrative. This new perspective on the epic enriches the world of the poem in a way that will interest both general readers and classical scholars.
". . .an elegant and lucid critical study that is also a good introduction to the poem."
---David Quint, London Review of Books
"Thomas Van Nortwick's eloquently written book will give the neophyte a clear interpretive path through the epic while reminding experienced readers why they should still care about the Odyssey's unresolved interpretive cruces. The Unknown Odysseus is not merely accessible, but a true pleasure to read."
---Lillian Doherty, University of Maryland
"Contributing to an important new perspective on understanding the epic, Thomas Van Nortwick wishes to resist the dominant, even imperial narrative that tries so hard to trick, beguile, and even bully its listeners into accepting the inevitability of Odysseus' heroism."
---Victoria Pedrick, Georgetown University
Thomas Van Nortwick is Nathan A. Greenberg Professor of Classics at Oberlin College and author of Somewhere I Have Never Travelled: The Second Self and the Hero's Journey in Ancient Epic (1992) and Oedipus: The Meaning of a Masculine Life (1998).
Jacket art: Head of Odysseus from a sculptural group representing Odysseus killing Polyphemus in the Museo Archeologico Nazionale in Sperlonga, Italy. Photograph by Marie-Lan Nguyen.
In his brilliant rendering of eight books of Homer's Iliad, Logue here retells some of the most evocative episodes of the war classic, including the death of Patroclus and Achilles's fateful return to battle, that sealed the doom of Troy. Compulsively readable, Logue's poetry flies off the page, and his compelling descriptions of the horrors of war have a surreal, dreamlike quality that has been compared to the films of Kurosawa. Retaining the great poem's story line but rewriting every incident, Logue brings the Trojan War to life for modern audiences.
Written Voices, Spoken Signs is a stimulating introduction to new perspectives on Homer and other traditional epics. Taking advantage of recent research on language and social exchange, the nine essays in this volume focus on performance and audience reception of oral poetry.
These innovative essays by leading scholars of Homer, oral poetics, and epic invite us to rethink some key concepts for an understanding of traditional epic poetry. Egbert Bakker examines the epic performer's use of time and tense in recounting a past that is alive. Tackling the question of full-length performance of the monumental Iliad, Andrew Ford considers the extent to which the work was perceived as a coherent whole in the archaic age. John Miles Foley addresses questions about spoken signs and the process of reference in epic discourse, and Ahuvia Kahane studies rhythm as a semantic factor in the Homeric performance. Richard Martin suggests a new range of performance functions for the Homeric simile. And Gregory Nagy establishes the importance of one feature of epic language, the ellipsis. These six essays centered on Homer engage with fundamental issues that are addressed by three essays primarily concerned with medieval epic: those by Franz Bäuml on the concept of fact; by Wulf Oesterreicher on types of orality; and by Ursula Schaefer on written and spoken media. In their Introduction the editors highlight the underlying approach and viewpoints of this collaborative volume.