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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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The Oresteia in the Odyssey (1946)

The Oresteia in the Odyssey (1946)

(p.165) Chapter 5 The Oresteia in the Odyssey (1946)
Persistent Forms

Olga Freidenberg

Fordham University Press

Olga Freidenberg (1890-1955) was a Classical scholar whose method—which she referred to as semantics or semantic paleontology—is often hailed as a precursor to structuralism and semiotics. Its principal orientation was, however, historical. In her determination to uncover the deeply primitive, yet diachronically recoverable past of culture and literature, Freidenberg continues the line of inquiry of Alexander Veselovsky, some of whose arguments she contests. This succinct and lucid analysis of the parallelism in the myths of Odysseus and the House of Atreus, translated here, illustrates one aspect of her diachronic approach to Greek mythology. According to Freidenberg, the proliferation of analogous mythical images at a primitive mythopoetic stage can be shown to be later replaced by a unitary plot—a transitional moment at which the representation of particular characters may become more complex and charged with ethical motivation.

Keywords:   Aeschylus, Homer, mythopoesis, The Odyssey, plot, semiotics

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