Homer - The poetry of the past by Andrew Laughlin Ford

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By Andrew Laughlin Ford

Ford right here addresses the perennial questions of what poetry is, the way it got here to be, and what it really is for, targeting the severe second in Western literature whilst the heroic stories of the Greek oral culture started to be preserved in writing.

"Ford's Homer is an inventive and sophisticated inquiry into historic poetics, leading edge in belief, proficient yet no longer pressured by way of exhaustive scholarship, and achieved in an obtainable and chic kind. it's a mini-masterpiece that either the coed and the knowledgeable common reader will consume with excitement and profit."--Choice

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38 3- 38 5. 67M urray ( 19 81) 98; Sch adew aldt ( 1965) 7 1 ( "k un stgerecht") . 68For the H omeric idea of techne, see K ube ( 1969) 14 - 19 . 69See Sn ell ( 1924) 8 1- 9 6 . C f. W alsh ( 1984) 135 n. 5. M y "c ap ab ly " is tak en from the shrew d discussion of J en sen ( 1980) 73. 70Svenbro ( 1976) 18 - 25. 711 w ould add to the proem ic vocabulary for "c raftin g" poetry noted in the pre­ vious section P seudo-H esiod fr. 357 M -W . " status of artist, Svenbro has to reckon with A gam em non's w ords about Penelope in the underworld: the fame [/c/cos] will never die of her excellence, and a song [aoide] for m en on earth the gods w ill fashion [teuxousi], one pleasing to prudent Penelope.

Ertue [Od. 439]) , or "w eaving" and "stitching together" evil plans (II. 637) . But the mas­ ters of verbal cunning turn out not to include poets: it is O dysseus who "constructs a tale" (epos . . paretektenaito) to get a robe from E umaeus (Od. 131- 132) , beggars who "fit together lies" (pseudea . . artunontas [Od. 363- 366] ) , and councillors who "w eave speeches" (muthous . . huphainein [II. 212]) . A s histo­ rians of archaic G reek thought, w e might put the poet's skill in the category of metis, a not quite scientific but highly effective ability to combine "all k inds of elements" (pantoios), especially to make a snare or trick.

61K ran z ( 1924) 67; Sperdutti ( 1950) ; M aehler ( 1963) 17; L anata ( 1963) 21. "62 It is true that early G reek literature generally does not value self-ex­ pression per se, but this is not to say that epic poets were uncon­ scious or paradisiacally unconcerned for themselves; this idea is hardly credible for G reek s, w ho at one time or another made com­ petitions out of virtually every form of poetry from high tragedy to singing over wine. A nd it is hard to square with the praise given within the poems to poets as performers; with the names given them, Phemius ( "m an of fame") , for example, and D emodocus ( "received by the people") ; and with the obvious pride in them­ selves and what they do which poets display in the proems.

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