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Entering the AgonDissent and Authority in Homer, Historiography, and Tragedy$
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Elton T. E. Barker

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199542710

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199542710.001.0001

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Introduction: founding dissent

Introduction: founding dissent

(p.31) Introduction: founding dissent
Entering the Agon

Elton T.E. Barker (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This section introduces the twin chapters on Homeric epic, the Iliad and Odyssey. Its methodological basis for comparison derives from J. Foley, who proposes using the idea of resonance—the process by which formulae evoke a wider epic tradition and, in turn, resonate through each and every particular instance—to explore inter-poetic rivalry. It identifies scenes of debate through a lexical study of the term ‘agora’ and its associated formulae, on the basis of which the assembly may be regarded as an arena in which the relationship between the leader and his people is examined, questioned and forged. While other studies have compiled lists of attributes of the assembly, however, this section draws attention to the performativity of the text-how debates work in context and develop over the course of the narrative—which may help to account for the often commented absence of a clear polis structure in either poem.

Keywords:   epic, Iliad, Odyssey, Foley, resonance, agora, performativity, leader, people, polis

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