Tradition and Design in the Iliad

By C. M. Bowra | Go to book overview

V
REPETITIONS AND CONTRADICTIONS

EARLY epic poetry begins with improvisation, and traces of this survive long after their real uses are forgotten and the practice itself has ceased. The improvising bard has under his control certain useful artifices which help him in his work and lessen the labours of creation. In particular he has stock lines which may be repeated whenever he has to deal with speech and answer, with the return of night or day, with the approach of death or the throwing of a weapon. Such themes recur constantly in all heroic poetry, and the poet who treated of them was helped by stock lines which he learned when he learned his art. Such repeated lines exist in most early poetry. In Beowulf eight out of thirteen speeches made by the hero begin with the same words: Beowulf mapelode bearn Ecgpeowes,1 and the Song of Roland gives its scene more than once in the line: halt sunt li pui et li val tenebrus.2 These lines are not in themselves evidence for improvisation, but originally such repetitions can only have arisen from the poet's need of help if he was going to make a new song every time. Being a recognized part of poetry they survived into the age of more considered composition, and as such we find them in Homer.

In practice, however, they performed a function quite different from that for which they were originally intended, and this was based on a sound knowledge of psychology. No one can listen for long with rapt attention to any recited poem. Sooner or later the fancy will wander, and the thread of the story will be lost. Under other conditions this may not matter. Modern readers may doze over a novel, but if they want to know what they have missed they have only to turn back and see. The Homeric poet could not allow for such a solution to the difficulty, and with perfect insight into the conditions he used the expedient of repeated phrases and lines. Any reader of the Iliad notices at once the enormous number of

____________________
1
'Beowulf, son of Ecgtheow, replied'. Cf. Chadwick, The Heroic Age, p. 320.
2
'High are the mountains and dark the valleys.'

-87-

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.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Tradition and Design in the Iliad
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Contents ix
  • I - Tradition and Design 1
  • II - The Origins of the Epic 27
  • III - The Hexameter 53
  • IV - Some Primitive Elements 67
  • V - Repetitions and Contradictions 87
  • VI - The Similes 114
  • VII - The Language 129
  • VIII - The Historical Background 156
  • IX - The Characters 192
  • XI - Homer and the Heroic Age 234
  • XII - Homer's Time and Place 251
  • Index 275
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
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?

Help
Full screen
/ 280

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    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.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.