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Homer's Divine AudienceThe Iliad's Reception on Mount Olympus$
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Tobias Myers

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780198842354

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198842354.001.0001

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Zeus, the Poet, and Vision

Zeus, the Poet, and Vision

(p.27) 1 Zeus, the Poet, and Vision
Homer's Divine Audience

Tobias Myers

Oxford University Press

Chapter 1 argues that the Iliad’s proem anticipates certain key elements of the battlefield spectacle to come: its central action (warfare and the desecration of corpses), and its staging and direction (with Zeus and the poet as joint orchestrators of the battlefield conflict). While the agency of Zeus and that of the poet are highlighted in various ways throughout the text, they overlap specifically in respect to their control of the warfare. Such moments of overlap heighten excitement during performance, as the ‘now’ of performance and the ‘now’ of mythic Troy become momentarily indistinguishable. The chapter concludes by bringing the lessons of its close readings together, to motivate and describe a new approach to the metapoetics of the Iliad’s gods, in place of the prevalent tendency to describe Zeus and the gods as drivers of ‘plot’. Instead, the chapter suggests, divine control should be seen as the flip side of divine viewing, and Zeus recognized as a figure who controls the course of the battle (not the whole plot). One should ask not just how Zeus’ role and the poet’s relate, but also what difference it makes for the Iliad as a performance event. Where textual cues are sufficient, certain scenes of divine viewing can be usefully read as a mise en abyme of the spectacle experience offered by the poet to his listeners.

Keywords:   plot, proem, nucleus, enargeia, staging, direction, Zeus, poet, metaperformative

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