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CLA236 Midterm Study Guide

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University of Toronto St. George
Timothy Perry

Terms to Know Dactylic Hexameter: rhythm of one long syllable followed by two short syllables All Greek poetry is based around syllable lengths (long or short) With very few exceptions ancient epic is always written in dactylic hexameter Meter: rhythmical form and structure of poetry Substantial length Ancient poetry is generally substantial in length, very long Any poetry in the ancient world, especially in the Greek world, that is written in dactylic hexameter and that is of substantial length is considered "epic" Sometimes include "didactic" epics such as Hesiod's Works and Days Is wisdom poetry, meant to teach something Hesiod is trying to teach his brother on how to be a good farmer Term "epic" is used more broadly in the ancient world than used in modern thought Modern definitions emphasize content Serious treatment of gods and heroes Aristotle noted that Homer always represented individuals who are greater than "us" Depictions of bards performing within epic poems The epic representing itself within its text Klea Andrn: famous deeds of men Epics often represents this Always of people of importance, of gods and heroes Dactylic hexameter is still recognized as the meter and form of epic Length as well is still regarded as a defining feature Formal features are ultimately what distinguishes epic from other genres which deal with similar content Epic is not the only genre that deals with heroes and gods e.g.) Tragedy o Much less of a distinction made in antiquity between myth and history Ancient Greeks and Romans thought of myths as early history Continuum between myth and history All 3 books are composed in the Archaic Age Oral Tradition Oral tradition derives from a Mycenaean oral tradition Difficult to reconstruct what exactly the Mycenaean influence was But the 8th Century BC is more influential Developed over time and through the mouths of many poets who each had their own versions Each version is composed in performance, lots of flexibility in the telling Over time changes are made, poets embellish, omit, add as they are passed on from generation to generation Literary context is very much based around "orality" Very hard to relate the end product to the original story Don't have any means of reconstructing the origin of the stories Brief Notes on the language of the Iliad and Odyseey All written in a literary dialect, one that was never actually spoken anywhere at anytime in the Greek world as an everyday language Takes various features from different Greek dialects and puts them all together Dominant dialect in this literary language is Ionian Ionia is the central part of modern-day Turkey Tells us about WHERE this oral tradition were developed Since Ionian was so important presumed that the stories developed in or around Ionia Epiphyte A characteristic of Homer's style is the use of epithets, as in "rosy-fingered" dawn or "swift- footed" Achilles. These epithets were metric stop-gaps as well as mnemonic devices for the aoidos (singer) both, signs of the deep oral tradition that preceded the written codification of the Iliad and Odyssey. Moreover, epithets in epic poetry from various Indo-European traditions may be traced to a common tradition going much deeper into prehistory. For example, the phrase approximating "everlasting glory" or "undying fame" can be found in the Homeric Greek kleos aphthiton and the Sanskrit rvo kitam. They "were, in terms of historical linguistics, equivalent in phonology, accentuation, and quantity (syllable length). In other words, they are descendants from a fragment of poetic diction (reconstructable as Proto-Indo-European *klewos dhg hitom) w which was handed down in parallel over many centuries, in continually diverging forms, by generations of singers whose ultim[1] ancestors shared an archetypal repertoire of poetic formulae and narrative themes." A name plus an epithet constitute a formula which exactly fits the metric structure of the verse. The use of formulas is characteristic of ancient epic poetry. Homer used epithets not merely to complete rhythm patterns. Epithets increase the meaning of each noun that they alter. Epithets can tell of the characters origin, parentage, appearance or state, skill-set, position, or heroic quality. At the same time, he distinguishes between Homers two different types of epithets: the special and the generic. Special epithets are used exclusively for a particular character, while generic epithets are used repeatedly for a class of characters. Yet this distinction is not always clear; thus, the epithet master of the war-cry is used [2] predominantly with Menelaus, yet on occasion also to describe Diomedes.Type Scene In addition to a large repertoire of formulaic expressions and epithets, the oral poet is able to utilise stock type-scenes. While the details vary, these scenes, which tend to revolve around actions that are central in the society of the epic, contain a consistent sequence of actions. Anyone who has read the Iliad will have noticed the great similarities between different arming and battle-scenes. may be regarded as a recurrent block of narrative with an identifiable structure, such as a sacrifice, the reception of a guest, the launching and beaching of a ship, the donning of armor. Many of the commonest of these were identified and studied nearly sixty years ago as typischen Scenen (Arend 1933). In narratological terms, an amplified type-scene is not necessary to the story, the content or chain of events (actions, happenings), plus what may be called the existents (characters, items of setting) (Chatman 1978:19; de Jong 1987:31 uses the term fabula for this), but is a part of the discourse, the expression, the means by which the content is communicated (Chatman ibid.; story in de Jong). The poet could have told how Telemachus went on his adventures, and met old Nestor (the story), without necessarily narrating for us the fullest extant example of the
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