Homer's Traditional Art

Homer's Traditional Art

by John Miles Foley

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Overview

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 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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780271028101
Publisher: Penn State University Press
Publication date: 06/15/1999
Pages: 384
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.94(d)

About the Author

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).

Table of Contents

Pronunciation Key ix
Preface xi
Introduction 1(12)
PART I: HOMER'S SIGN-LANGUAGE
Homeric Signs and Traditional Referentiality
13(24)
PART II: HOMERIC AND SOUTH SLAVIC EPIC
Homer and the South Slavic Guslar: The Analogy and the Singers
37(28)
Homer and the South Slavic Guslar: Traditional Register
65(24)
Homer and the South Slavic Guslar: Traditional Referentiality
89(26)
PART III: READING HOMER'S SIGNS
Story-Pattern as Sema: The Odyssey as a Return Song
115(54)
Typical Scenes of Feast and Lament
169(32)
Word, Idiom, Speech-Act: The Traditional Phrase as Sema
201(40)
PART IV: HOMERIC SIGNS AND ODYSSEY 23
Rereading Odyssey 23
241(30)
Afterword: "Deor" and Anglo-Saxon Semata
263(8)
Appendix I. Feasting in Homer 271(4)
Appendix II. "Deor" 275(2)
Notes 277(44)
Master Bibliography 321(20)
Index 341(16)
Index Locorum 357

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