ENGB30H3 Lecture Notes - Lecture 12: Long, Long, Long, Dactylic Hexameter, In Medias Res

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23 Nov 2016
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Classical Myth and Literature
Lecture 12: The Iliad Books 1 and 3
Homer (8th century BCE?)
- Uncertainty to whether there was actually someone named homer
o It is the generally accepted belief
- Epic Poem The Iliad generally accepted as the oldest literary work in
Western history
- The Iliad and The Odyssey are believed to be compilations of earlier oral
literature
o Must have been passed on from generation to generation orally
o His words may not have been his but other peoples words stitched
together to make the epic poems
- Tradition of Homer as a blind wandering bard or minstrel
o Authors of Iliad and Odyssey same person? Master and apprentice?
o The writing style is consistent
The Iliad: Literary Form
- Written in dactylic hexameter
o Dactyl
Greek: Long syllable followed by two short syllables
English: Stressed syllable followed by two unstressed syllables
o Spondee (2 long syllables) substituted frequently to avoid singsong
poem
- Examples of word choice strictly limited by meter
o (omers different names for the Greeks
Achaians Aχαιoi short, long, long,
Danaans (Δαvαoi) short, short, long
Argives Aρyεĩot– long, long, long
o Other examples of alternative names
Son of Peleus (Achilleus)
Son of Atreus (Agamemnon)
Son of Cronos (Zeus)
Alexandros Paris
The Iliad: Literary Form (continued)
- Formulaic expressions
o Homeric epithets:
Achilleus of the swift feet
Resourceful Odysseus
Wine-blue sea
Winged words
Bronze-armoured Achaians
Flowing-haired Achaians
Helen of the white arms
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