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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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Sidelining debate in the Odyssey

Sidelining debate in the Odyssey

(p.89) 2 Sidelining debate in the Odyssey
Entering the Agon

Elton T.E. Barker (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines representations of debate in the Odyssey, with the suggestion that its less prominent role has implications for the standard view of this poem as playfully dialogic. Reduced to only two events, debate comes across not only as marginal to its narrative dynamics but also as socially divisive: these two Ithacan assembly scenes split down partisan lines, with neither group, those with Odysseus and those against him (the suitors), interested in the institution. Indeed, while the suitors' language frequently evokes an Iliadic world of strife and open contest, the Odyssey shows much more interest in deceit than in debate. The clearest example of the suppression of dissenting voices finds its substantiation in Odysseus' own narration of events; but the divine meeting between Zeus and Athena that frames the epic in books 1 and 24 equally reveals, and revels in, the narrative's control over events and their interpretation.

Keywords:   Odyssey, the suitors, Odysseus, assembly, dialogism, debate, deceit, marginal, Zeus, control

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