New on the Hellenic Studies Series
|September 25, 2019||Posted by Moderator under Publications|
We are very pleased to share that these two titles from the Hellenic Studies Series are available in print through Harvard University Press.
Homeric Imagery and the Natural Environment, by William Brockliss
Responding to George Lakoff’s and Mark Johnson’s analysis of metaphor, William Brockliss explores the Homeric poets’ use of concrete concepts drawn from the Greek natural environment to aid their audiences’ understanding of abstract concepts. In particular, he considers Homeric images that associate flowers with the concepts of deception, disorder, and death, and examines the ways in which the poets engage with natural phenomena such as the brief, diverse blooms of the Greek spring.
Taken together, such Homeric images present a more pessimistic depiction of the human condition than we find in the vegetal imagery of other archaic Greek genres. While lyric poets drew on floral imagery to emphasize the beauty of the beloved, the Homeric poets used images of flowers to explore the potentially deceptive qualities of bodies adorned for seduction. Where the Hesiodic poets employed vegetal images to depict the stable structure of the cosmos, the Homeric poets set arboreal imagery of good order against floral images suggestive of challenges or changes to orderliness. And while the elegiac poets celebrated the brief “flower of youth,” the Homeric poets created floral images reminiscent of Hesiodic monsters, and thereby helped audiences to imagine the monstrous otherness of death.
Agamemnon, the Pathetic Despot: Reading Characterization in Homer, by Andrew Porter
Agamemnon led a ten-year-long struggle at Troy only to return home and die a pathetic death at his wife’s hands. Yet while Agamemnon’s story exerts an outsize influence—rivalled by few epic personalities—on the poetic narratives of the Iliad and Odyssey, scholars have not adequately considered his full portrait. What was Agamemnon like as a character for Homer and his audience? More fundamentally, how should we approach the topic of characterization itself, following the discoveries of Milman Parry, Albert Lord, and their successors?
Andrew Porter explains the expression of characterization in Homer’s works, from an oral-traditional point of view, and through the resonance of words, themes, and “back stories” from both the past and future. He analyzes Agamemnon’s character traits in the Iliad, including his qualities as a leader, against events such as his tragic homecoming narrative in the Odyssey. Porter’s findings demonstrate that there is a traditional depth of characterization embedded in the written pages of these once-oral epics, providing a shared connection between the ancient singer and his listeners.