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Herodotus and his WorldEssays from a Conference in Memory of George Forrest$
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Peter Derow and Robert Parker

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780199253746

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199253746.001.0001

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Pedestrian Fatalities: The Prosaics of Death in Herodotus

Pedestrian Fatalities: The Prosaics of Death in Herodotus

Chapter:
(p.17) 2 Pedestrian Fatalities: The Prosaics of Death in Herodotus
Source:
Herodotus and his World
Author(s):

Deborah Boedeker

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199253746.003.0002

Many warriors die in both Herodotus' Histories and the Iliad, but their deaths are treated very differently, even when the mode of death is the same (as with Ilioneus in Il. 14.489-502 and Masistios in Hist. 9.22, both killed by a spear to the eye). Homeric epic typically highlights the pathetic and subjective experience of an individual's death, and thus the fragility of human life, whereas Herodotus' narrative is more interested in the strategy behind the killing and an external, civic-oriented evaluation of the dead. These narrative differences point to a contrast between the more monologic perspective in the Iliad, with its commitment to heroic honor, and the profound heteroglossia, or multiplicity of voices that characterizes the Histories. In Mikhail Bakhtin's terms, this contrast results from an ideological distinction between ‘poetic’ or ‘closed’ vs. ‘prosaic’ or ‘open-ended’ texts.

Keywords:   Mikhail Bakhtin, death, heteroglossia, Ilioneus, Masistios, prosaics

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