Homer's Trojan Theater: Space, Vision, and Memory in the Iliad

Homer's Trojan Theater: Space, Vision, and Memory in the Iliad

Jenny Strauss Clay

Language: English

Pages: 148

ISBN: 2:00230203

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Moving away from the verbal and thematic repetitions that have dominated Homeric studies and exploiting the insights of cognitive psychology, this highly innovative and accessible study focuses on the visual poetics of the Iliad as the narrative is envisioned by the poet and rendered visible. It does so through a close analysis of the often-neglected 'Battle Books'. They here emerge as a coherently visualized narrative sequence rather than as a random series of combats, and this approach reveals, for instance, the significance of Sarpedon's attack on the Achaean Wall and Patroclus' path to destruction. In addition, Professor Strauss Clay suggests new ways of approaching ancient narratives: not only with one's ear, but also with one's eyes. She further argues that the loci system of mnemonics, usually attributed to Simonides, is already fully exploited by the Iliad poet to keep track of his cast of characters and to organize his narrative.

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in harmony. Hector now hurries back (6.391–93): tŸn aÉtŸn ¾d¼n aÔtiv –Ðktim”nav katì ˆgui†v. eÔte pÅlav ¯kane dierc»menov m”ga Šstu Skai†v, t Šrì ›melle diex©menai ped©onde. On the same path again through well-constructed roads, Until he came to the gates, going through the great city, The Scaean Gates, where he was about to exit onto the plain. At this point we might expect Hector to rejoin his comrades in the field, but Andromache comes running toward him; their two paths unite for the last

u¬¼n —¼n Sarphd»na mht©eta ZeÆv årsen –p ì %rge©oisi, l”onq ì âv bousªn ™lixin. In fact, the Trojans and Hector would never have Broken through the gates of the wall and the long bolt, If Zeus of devisings had not roused his own son Sarpedon Against the Argives, like a lion among cattle with twisted horns. 62 63 64 65 On the function of this simile, see Clay (1999) 58–60. See below, p. 66 for more on Homeric similes. See Martin (1997) 146, who aptly uses the language of cinematography:

and the necessary time required for their completion. Often certain qualifications and evaluations of spatial particulars are involved. In other words, this conception of space is “directional,” evaluative, and relational. It is called in a word “hodological.”3 In 1934 the Gestalt psychologist K. Lewin first coined this term, which became a central concept in his analysis of human behavior. Intriguingly, his earliest writing, entitled “Kriegslandschaft” (“Landscape of War”), based on his

considerations of Homeric epic. Attention has moved away from the creation and evolution of the poems to questions concerning their reception by an audience and the interaction of the poet and his listeners. Regarding the Homeric poems as communicative events invites us to consider Homeric discourse as a special kind of discourse, but one that nevertheless follows the general rules of linguistic communication. Linguistic pragmatics, speech-act theory, and discourse analysis have contributed to

transmission of the Muses’ vision to the poet is expressed by the verb mimnesk¯o, which we usually translate as “to remind” or, in the middle, “to remember.” The “re-” prefix in English suggests the repetition of a previous action that one has performed or the retrieval of information that was stored at some moment in the past. But in our poet’s invocation he is not asking the Muses, daughters of Mnemosyne, to repeat something he already knows, but rather to provide him with a special kind of

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