Singers, Heroes, and Gods in the Odyssey

Singers, Heroes, and Gods in the Odyssey

Singers, Heroes, and Gods in the Odyssey

Singers, Heroes, and Gods in the Odyssey

Synopsis

One of the special charms of the Odyssey, according to Charles Segal, is the way it transports readers to fascinating places. Yet despite the appeal of its narrative, the Odyssey is fully understood only when its style, design, and mythical patterns are taken into account as well. Bringing a new richness to interpretation of this epic, Segal looks closely at key forms of social and personal organization which Odysseus encounters in his voyages. Segal also considers such topics as the relationship between bard and audience, the implications of the Odyssey's self-consciousness about its own poetics, and Homer's treatment of the nature of poetry.

Excerpt

This volume represents some thirty years of teaching and writing about the Odyssey. Seven of the ten chapters have been previously published, but all of them have been revised for this volume. Although I have not changed the substance of the original publications, I have recast, abbreviated, or expanded some sections and added some new points of detail. I have divided the study of the Phaeacians, originally published as a single article, into two parts (Chapters 2-3) to bring it closer to the scale of the other chapters. I originally wrote the fourth chapter as a sequel to my study of the Phaeacians, and I am happy to have its thematic affinities here restored. Chapter 7 was originally delivered at the annual meeting of the American Philological Association in December 1992 and is here published for the first time. Chapter 8 is also previously unpublished, although an earlier version of the last section will appear in a Festschrift for Giovanni Tarditi.

While I have tried to make these studies more accessible to a general audience, I have not attempted to disguise the differences in approach between essays that were written, in some cases, thirty years apart. Readers will doubtless be struck by the shift from the more individualcentered psychological orientation of Chapters 2-4 to the social and anthropological approaches of Chapters 6-8 and may find it interesting to observe how a single interpreter's work may undergo changes in method and emphasis over a period of scholarly activity that moves from New Criticism to structuralism and poststructuralism. There are continuities too, however, as the relation between Chapter 10 and Chapters 2-4 will show.

It is a testimony to the popularity and importance of the Odyssey that . . .

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