The topic, in a sense, is a bogus one—speech-making and persuasion in Homer and Apollonius. There are speakers and speeches enough in Greek epic, but, at least in Homer and Apollonius, there is little recognisable rhetorical elaboration of the classical kind. This, of course, is understandable in the case of Homer: he was writing before rhetoric was invented. Yet, in the case of the Alexandrian writer of epic, Apollonius of Rhodes (composing after Aristotle and the major orators), the absence of speech-making, thus the absence of ‘primary’ rhetoric, is striking. 1 In this chapter I intend to look, selectively, at several of the speeches in Homer and in Apollonius. 2 My concern, above all, is to isolate some of the major contrasts between the speech-making habits of Homer and of Apollonius. We will see, I hope, how ‘rhetorical’ Homer can be. We will also see—and this is perhaps the crux of my chapter—why Apollonius may have shown so little taste for primary rhetoric.
Homer’s speeches were not shaped from any clear-cut template. How could they have been when rhetoric had not yet been invented? Even so, there seem to be sufficient traces of later rhetorical habits in Homer to justify, however tentatively, our importing aspects of this anachronistic template. 3 Such a procedure, I hope to show, can be useful in some expected, and in at least one unexpected, way. On the simplest level rhetorical analysis of Homeric speech-making may demonstrate that these speeches are not formless, but quite deliberately shaped. 4 It may also demonstrate that there is a continuity between Homer’s and later