Rediscovering Homer: Inside the Origins of Epic

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9780393057881: Rediscovering Homer: Inside the Origins of Epic

Who created the Odyssey and the Iliad? A portrait of the poet and the world.

Scholar Andrew Dalby delves into the world that first heard the Odyssey and the Iliad, and asks new questions about the poet named Homer. Dalby follows the growth of the legend of Troy from its kernel of historical truth, and retraces the succession of singers who re-created the unforgettable story for generations of audiences. He asks why the two great epics at last crossed the frontier from song to writing, and how this astonishing transformation from the singer's mouth to the goatskin page was achieved. A gifted detective of the classical world, Dalby finds new approaches to the personality of Homer, showing how the earliest evidence has been misread. He makes a powerful case that both poems are the work of a single poet and comes to an ultimate conclusion that will surprise even serious classical scholars: Homer was most likely a woman.

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About the Author :

Andrew Dalby is an historian and linguist with a longstanding interest in oral literature. He has written about food, wine, and pleasure in the ancient world. He lives in France.

From Publishers Weekly :

Late in this look at Homer's two great epic poems and the context out of which they grew, Dalby presents his audacious thesis: Homer, he would have us believe, was a woman. Some hedging accompanies the assertion, but it figures as the centerpiece of this study. While Dalby, a historian and linguist, excels in his discussion of the transformation from oral to written poetry and of the single-author theory for the Iliad and the Odyssey, his case for Homer's sex is discursive and full of speculation. The strongest chapter, "The Iliad and History," is a thrilling account of the evidence in support of an actual Trojan War, much of it built on Joachim Latacz's Troy and Homer. Most fascinating of all is Dalby's elegant elucidation of the Iliad's "Catalogue of Ships" passage, whose formulaic language contains time signatures of both Bronze Age Greece (the period when Troy was sacked) and of the time when the Iliad was first written down 500 years later. Despite Dalby's efforts, Homer remains as elusive as ever. But the gap between the plot of the Iliad and historical reality is growing ever narrower. This book, which contains a helpful bibliographical essay, serves as a useful introduction to the detective work these poems have inspired. 3 maps. (July)
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