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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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‘Let Us Cease’: Early Reflections on the Spectacle’s End

‘Let Us Cease’: Early Reflections on the Spectacle’s End

(p.109) 3 ‘Let Us Cease’: Early Reflections on the Spectacle’s End
Homer's Divine Audience

Tobias Myers

Oxford University Press

Chapter 3 focuses on the two major episodes of Book 7, both of which have often been criticized as ill-motivated and disconnected, and both of which feature prominent scenes of divine viewing and discussion: the formal duel between Hector and Aias; and the truce for the burial of the dead, during which the Achaeans build a defensive wall. The chapter shows that the two episodes can in fact be read as both well-motivated and connected, if seen in metaperformative terms: as an extended reflection on how the Iliad’s battlefield spectacle ends. The second duel offers a mise en abyme, by which the poet dramatizes tension between two types of response to the conflict at this point: desire for Achaean victory, and pity for the doomed Trojans. The duel is normally seen as the second of two formal duels, but is best understood as the second of three ‘spectacular duels’, the third being between Hector and Achilles in Book 22. Then, through the building of the Achaean wall as viewed by the gods, the poet reflects upon tension between (a) the Iliad’s insistence that its central spectacle is playing out in real time, before our eyes, and (b) its equally powerful investment in the idea that its action is not ephemeral, but permanent.

Keywords:   Achaean wall, Poseidon, Athena, Apollo, burial, duel, mise en abyme, polemos, warfare, pause

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