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Persistent FormsExplorations in Historical Poetics$
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Ilya Kliger and Boris Maslov

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780823264858

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823264858.001.0001

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On the Eve of Epic

On the Eve of Epic

Did the Chryses Episode in Iliad 1 Begin Its Life as a Separate Homeric Hymn?

(p.397) Chapter 15 On the Eve of Epic
Persistent Forms

Christopher A. Faraone

Fordham University Press

This chapter undertakes a defamiliarizing reading of the dominant Archaic genre, the Homeric epic. Taking his cue from Bakhtin’s theorization of the novel as a hybrid genre, Faraone points out that the Homeric poems analogously draw on and incorporate preexistent genres. In the case of the Iliad, a text that is to a great extent constituted within an oral tradition, the recognition of its multi-genred nature reveals divergent intents that a holistic reading (in the Neo-Unitarian paradigm of Homeric criticism) would seek to downplay or explain away. Faraone applies this approach to what is one of the best-known texts in European literature, the first book of the Iliad. Pointing to inconsistencies in characterization of Achilles and Agamemnon, as well as to a number of other textual clues, he proposes to regard a substantial segment of the book—the Chryses episode—as a cult hymn originally performed in a ritual context and then incorporated into the Panhellenic text of Homer.

Keywords:   characterization, epic, Homer, hymn, The Iliad, oral tradition

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