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Between Ecstasy and TruthInterpretations of Greek Poetics from Homer to Longinus$
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Stephen Halliwell

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199570560

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199570560.001.0001

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Is there a Poetics in Homer?

Is there a Poetics in Homer?

(p.36) 2 Is there a Poetics in Homer?
Between Ecstasy and Truth

Stephen Halliwell

Oxford University Press

This chapter offers a probing reinterpretation of Homeric scenes and motifs relating to poetry (as ‘song’). Among the material considered is Achilles' solo song in Iliad 9, the Greek army's paeans in Iliad 1 and 22, the imagined role of the Muses in the creation of song, the conflicting feelings of Eumaeus in Odyssey 14 and 17 (which are read as displaying an uncertainty about emotional authenticity and narrative truth), and the reactions of Odysseus to the Trojan songs of Demodocus in Odyssey 8. It is argued that there is no pure ‘poetics of truth’ in Homer and that both epics share an awareness of how the psychological effects of song vary according to particular contexts and audiences. Underpinning these variations is a sense of poetry as something that can touch deep needs and arouse a quasi-erotic desire for its expressive beauty.

Keywords:   Achilles, beauty, Demodocus, desire, emotional authenticity, Eumaeus, Muses, Odysseus, paeans, song

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