Ancient Epic Poetry: Homer, Apollonius, Virgil: With a Chapter on the Gilgamesh Poems

By Charles Rowan Beye | Go to book overview
Save to active project

5
The Odyssey

You stubborn man, full of so many plans, deceits,
not even in your own land have you any intention
of stopping your cheating, your lying words,
which you know you love from the bottom of your heart.

—Athena to Odysseus, Odyssey 13.293–95

The Odyssey seems to be quite different from the Iliad. The difference, however, is not in the mechanics of style; its creator knows the same techniques of oral poetic composition, the same metrics, the same formulaic construction, the same reliance on typical scenes and stereotypic characters. If the diction seems at times different, that is no more than one would expect from different times, a different poet or group of poets, and, of course, a very different story. It is remarkable that these poems can be so very unlike one another and yet so very similar. The ancients considered them to be the works of the same man, the "divine poet," and for centuries that was the received opinion, but twentieth-century scholars are more inclined to view them as the work of two poets or poetic traditions. Computerized studies of the language tend to support this view: they show trends and linguistic habits peculiar to each poem which suggest that the Iliad is earlier than the Odyssey in some kind of oral poetic linguistic evolution. But clearly the oral poetic technique held this poet tightly in its grasp; the opening invocation to the Muse is very real, for the Muse of epic formulary style does possess the poet.

While the story of the Iliad proceeds without any sensible interruption, the Odyssey narrative might be said to separate into three distinct parts. The first four books, commonly called the Telemachia, describe the conflict of Odysseus's son Telemachus with his mother's

-144-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Ancient Epic Poetry: Homer, Apollonius, Virgil: With a Chapter on the Gilgamesh Poems
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 318

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?