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This is the first study to examine in detail the role and character of Homer's people (Greek laoi) in Homeric storytelling, arguing that Homeric poetry is crucially concerned with the people as a basis for communal life. Both the Iliad and the Odyssey are read as sustained meditations on the processes involved in protecting and destroying the people. The investigation draws on a wide range of approaches from formulaic analysis to the study of early performance contexts.