Homer's Traditional Art

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Penn State Press, 1999 - Literary Criticism - 363 pages
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In recent decades, the evidence for an oral epic tradition in ancient Greece has grown enormously along with our ever-increasing awareness of worldwide oral traditions. John Foley here examines the artistic implications that oral tradition holds for the understanding of the Iliad and Odyssey in order to establish a context for their original performance and modern-day reception.

In Homer's Traditional Art, Foley addresses three crucially interlocking areas that lead us to a fuller appreciation of the Homeric poems. He first explores the reality of Homer as their actual author, examining historical and comparative evidence to propose that &"Homer&" is a legendary and anthropomorphic figure rather than a real-life author. He next presents the poetic tradition as a specialized and highly resonant language bristling with idiomatic implication. Finally, he looks at Homer's overall artistic achievement, showing that it is best evaluated via a poetics aimed specifically at works that emerge from oral tradition.

Along the way, Foley offers new perspectives on such topics as characterization and personal interaction in the epics, the nature of Penelope's heroism, the implications of feasting and lament, and the problematic ending of the Odyssey. His comparative references to the South Slavic oral epic open up new vistas on Homer's language, narrative patterning, and identity.

Homer's Traditional Art represents a disentangling of the interwoven strands of orality, textuality, and verbal art. It shows how we can learn to appreciate how Homer's art succeeds not in spite of the oral tradition in which it was composed but rather through its unique agency.

 

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Contents

Homeric Signs and Traditional Referentiality
13
HOMERIC AND SOUTH SLAVIC EPIC
37
Homer and the South Slavic Guslar Traditional Register
65
Homer and the South Slavic Guslar Traditional Referentiality
89
READING HOMERS SIGNS
115
Typical Scenes of Feast and Lament
169
The Traditional Phrase as Sema
201
Rereading Odyssey 23
241
Deor and AngloSaxon Semata
263
Notes
277
Master Bibliography
321
Index
341
Index Locorum
357
Copyright

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Politics of Orality
Craig Richard Cooper
No preview available - 2007
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About the author (1999)

John Miles Foley is William H. Byler Distinguished Chair in the Humanities and Curators' Professor of Classical Studies and English at the University of Missouri, Columbia, and the editor and founder of the journal Oral Tradition. Among his recent books are Traditional Oral Epic (1990) and The Singer of Tales in Performance (1995).

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