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Ransom, Revenge, and Heroic Identity in the Iliad

Overview

Wilson examines the nature of compensation—ransom and revenge—in the liad, offering a fundamentally new reading of the quarrel between Agamemnon and Achilles. She presents a detailed anthropology of compensation in Homer, located in the wider context of agonistic exchange, to demonstrate how the struggle over definitions is a central feature of elite competition for status in the zero-sum and fluid ranking system of Homeric society. The study thus asserts the integral role of compensation in the traditional, ...

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Overview

Wilson examines the nature of compensation—ransom and revenge—in the liad, offering a fundamentally new reading of the quarrel between Agamemnon and Achilles. She presents a detailed anthropology of compensation in Homer, located in the wider context of agonistic exchange, to demonstrate how the struggle over definitions is a central feature of elite competition for status in the zero-sum and fluid ranking system of Homeric society. The study thus asserts the integral role of compensation in the traditional, cultural and poetic matrix of this foundational epic.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This book offers a rich feast of theory and literary analysis. Wilson's scholarship is first rate and her analysis, though subtle and with many strands, is clear and coherent...It is a noteworthy contribution both to the study of power and dominance in Homeric society and to the poetics of the Iliad." Walter Donlan, University of California, Irvine

"...Donna Wilson succeeds brilliantly in untangling an interpretive knot that has bound up the exegesis of the Iliad for centuries...[She] provides a sensitive and sophisticated analysis of the cultural poetics of compensation, showing that the crucial terms...are not just major structuring concepts within the Iliad, but within Greek society, and not just static concepts, but ones essentially open to constant rhetorically charged renegotiation." Richard Martin, Antony and Isabelle Raubitschek Professor of Classics, Stanford University

"...a truly remarkable book that effectively eludidates the poetics of compensation practiced by the heroes of the Illiad. The book will likely change the way many readers understand the character of Achilles and read and interpret the Illiad." BMCR

"A book all Homerists will have to know and that makes an abiding contribution to the understanding of the poems. Even those who disagree with the use it makes of its own discovery will be grateful for the help it provides in their own thinking." Classical Bulletin

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521806602
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 6/1/2002
  • Pages: 248
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.29 (h) x 0.87 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface and acknowledgements; Introduction: compensation and heroic identity; 1. Ransom and revenge: poetics and politics of compensation; 2. Agamemnon and Chryses: between king and father; 3. The quarrel: men who would be king; 4. The embassy to Achilleus: in the name of the father; 5. Achilleus and Priam: between king and father; 6. Unlimited poine: poetry as practice; Appendices; Notes; Abbreviations; References; Index of Homeric passages; General index.

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