Just as our literature began with the novel so the Greek began with the epic and dissolved in it.
(Friedrich Schlegel, 1968:101)
Memory is the epic faculty par excellence.
(Walter Benjamin, 1992:96)
|2The logological significance of the Homeric texts|
|3Epic narrative form(s)|
|4The world of the poem: the Homeric life-world as a videological universe|
|5Self and self-reflexivity in the Homeric world|
|6The civilizing powers of Homeric discourse|
|7Conclusion: Thersites’ revenge|
The following chapters are concerned with intellectual developments from a period of ancient Greek history stretching from the beginnings of the Archaic epoch to the beginnings of the Classical age. My main concern in this chapter will be with the emergence of ancient Greek rhetorics of vision and self articulated in the Iliad and Odyssey. I will trace some of the tangled threads of a complex texture of relationships into which the problematics of self, alterity, and reflexivity were woven in these late products of Greek oral culture. Sections 2 and 3 describe the emergence of epic literature and the generic characteristics of the Homeric texts. In Section 4, I analyze the videological universe created by epic literacy as a context for exploring the nature of Homeric selfhood in Section 5. Finally in Section 6, I situate epic poetry in its historical context as a constitutive medium of early Greek self-reflection. As my general approach follows the form of a reflexive sociological poetics this study is not intended as an exercise in the sociology of literature, but attempts to uncover the sociology implicit in the epic text.