Communicating identity: the significance of epithets in Homers Odyssey

Grey, S. F. (2021). Communicating identity: the significance of epithets in Homers Odyssey. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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Epithets are one of most characteristic elements of Homeric epic style. Yet, despite their inherent beauty, Homer’s winged words have not always received the attention they deserve. Since the rise of Milman Parry’s structuralist theories at the beginning of the twentieth-century, Homer’s epithets have been considered merely ‘decorative insofar as they are neither essential to the immediate context nor modeled especially for it’ (Burkert, 1992: 116). The epithets only use, therefore, is to help fill the metrical requirements of a hexameter line. Despite subsequent revisions of Parry’s oral theories, there still remains a “Parryist Hangover” when it comes to our understanding and appreciation of Homer’s epithets. This legacy is best felt in the most recent translations of Homer which still consider Homer’s repetitive epithets ‘moments to skip’ for a modern, highly literate, audience (Wilson, 2018: 84). Equally, one may find the same assumptions in Homeric Commentaries, where analysis and discussion of epithets is almost entirely overlooked. To date there has been no comprehensive analysis of their purpose. The aim of this thesis is to correct this oversight, combining statistical analysis with literary methodologies in an attempt to determine the role that pronoun epithets play in the communication of identity in Homer’s Odyssey.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
Licence: All rights reserved
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of History and Cultures, Department of Classics, Ancient History and Archaeology (CAHA)
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D051 Ancient History
P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics


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