Two Paradigmatic Catalogues
This chapter examines the two places where Homeric speakers string together several paradigmatic tales or exempla in the format of a catalogue (Iliad 5.382–405, Odyssey 5.118–36). It is argued that the striking similarities between the two examples are not coincidental, e.g. that a goddess (Dione or Calypso) speaks to another god about a situation pertaining to a major hero (Diomedes or Odysseus). The choice of divine speakers reinforces the authoritative tone of the catalogue form and suggests its ability to communicate a privileged perspective on history and historical patterns. Yet in each case the speaker’s rhetorical aims, and the catenulate or fragmented structure of the catalogue form itself, distort the overall picture. While speakers may attempt, through paradigmatic catalogues, to impose a pattern or interpretation on the events of the narrative, Homer in each case preserves crucial differences between the catalogue and his own story.
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