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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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Herodotus' Odyssean enquiry

Herodotus' Odyssean enquiry

(p.144) 3 Herodotus' Odyssean enquiry
Entering the Agon

Elton T.E. Barker (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses Herodotus' enquiry into a war between east and west in the wake of the Iliad, but shows that debate is represented in a quite different manner. While shown to cherish the values of freedom, the Greeks' pursuit of self-government happens in spite of the assembly, which is dominated by self-interest and fraught with division; it is the Persians who, though lacking a comparable civic framework, are represented as conducting the most formal debates. Building on the recent suggestion (by J. Marincola) that Herodotus' narrative shares many affinities with the Odyssey, this chapter reassesses the extent and nature of its dialogism on the basis that it reworks a peculiarly Odyssean exposure of the inadequacies of public debate. The author's challenge to debate acts as a lure for eliciting authority for his own enquiry, which can transcend the lack of an inter-political framework that so hampers the Greek coalition.

Keywords:   Herodotus, freedom, debate, enquiry, Odyssean, Marincola, institutional framework, authority, dialogism

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