Homer's Allusive Art

Homer's Allusive Art

by Bruno Currie


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What kind of allusion is possible in a poetry derived from a centuries-long oral tradition, and what kind of oral-derived poetry are the Homeric epics? Comparison of Homeric epic with South Slavic heroic song has suggested certain types of answers to these questions, yet the South Slavic paradigm is neither straightforward in itself nor necessarily the only pertinent paradigm: Augustan Latin poetry uses many sophisticated and highly self-conscious techniques of allusion which can, this book contends, be suggestively paralleled in Homeric epic, and some of the same techniques of allusion can be found in Near Eastern poetry of the third and second millennia BC.

By attending to these various paradigms, this challenging study argues for a new understanding of Homeric allusion and its place in literary history, broaching the question of whether there can have been historical continuity in a poetics of allusion stretching from the Mesopotamian epic of Gilgamesh, via the Iliad and Odyssey, to the Aeneid and Metamorphoses, despite the enormous disparities of time and place and of language and culture, including those represented by the cuneiform tablet, the papyrus roll, and by an oral performance culture. The fundamental methodological problems are explored through a series of interlocking case studies, treating of how the Odyssey conceivably alludes to the Iliad and also to earlier poetry on Odysseus' homecoming, the Iliad to earlier poetry on the Ethiopian hero Memnon, the Homeric Hymn to Demeter to earlier poetry on Hades' abduction of Persephone, and early Greek epic to Mesopotamian mythological poetry, pre-eminently the Babylonian epic of Gilgamesh.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780198768821
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publication date: 12/13/2016
Pages: 360
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Bruno Currie is Associate Professor in Classical Languages and Literature at the University of Oxford and Monro Fellow and Tutor in Classics at Oriel College. His chief research interests are ancient Greek poetry (especially epic and lyric), ancient Greek religion, and the interaction between the two, and he is the author of several articles on these subjects. His other publications include Epic Interactions: Perspectives on Homer, Virgil, and the Epic Tradition Presented to Jasper Griffin by Former Pupils, as co-editor, and the authored monograph Pindar and the Cult of Heroes.

Table of Contents

List of tables
List of conventions and abbreviations
How to use this book
1. Homer and Allusive Art
2. The Homeric Epics and their Forerunners
3. The Archaic Hymns to Demeter
4. Pregnant Tears and Poetic Memory
5. Allusion in Greek and Near Eastern Mythological Poetry
I. A Greek transference: Aphrodite to Hera
II. A Sumerian-Akkadian-Greek transference: Inanna, Ishtar, Aphrodite
III. Mythological catalogues, seductions, plaints in heaven: typology or allusiona
IV. The question of awareness of Near Eastern sources
V. Consequences for Greek and Near Eastern poetry
6. Epilogue: Traditional Art and Allusive Art
A. Proclus' Summaries of the Cyclical Epics
B. Translation of the Berlin Papyrus (Commentary on the Orphic Hymn to Demeter)
C. Allusive Doublets and Inconcinnities
D. Pindar, the Aethiopis, and Homer
E. Prospective Lamentation
F. Typologically Generated Repetition versus Specific Reprise
Index of passages
General index

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