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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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Challenging authority in the assemblies of the Iliad

Challenging authority in the assemblies of the Iliad

Chapter:
(p.40) 1 Challenging authority in the assemblies of the Iliad
Source:
Entering the Agon
Author(s):

Elton T.E. Barker (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199542710.003.0003

This chapter examines representations of debate in the Iliad. Focusing on scenes of assembly among the Achaeans, it argues that dissent is made institutional as the poem unwinds: Achilles establishes the precedent for challenging the king in the opening act; subsequent episodes in books 2 and 9 explore possibilities for dissent by not relying on Achilles' individual performance but working within the institution of assembly he set up; the assembly of book 19 reflects on the Iliad's achievement by replaying tensions between Achilles and Agamemnon. This hypothesis is tested by considering two other groups who hold assemblies, the Trojans and gods, both of whom prioritize authority over dissent. Diverging from previous attempts to locate an emerging civic framework in the Iliad, this study argues that the poem does not represent a ‘ready-made’ system of institutions but, as a foundational narrative, initiates a process towards enacting them from its beginning.

Keywords:   Iliad, assembly, Achaeans, Achilles, dissent, authority, institutions, foundational, Trojans, gods

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