The language of heroes : speech and performance in the Iliad by Richard Martin

By Richard Martin

Drawing on contemporary experiences in ethnography and sociolinguistics, Richard Martin right here units forth a poetics of Homeric speeches, which he sees now not basically as poetic creations yet because the illustration of an exact type of conversing in a standard tradition

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30): "Taking his hand she spoke to rushing Ares with words (epeessi). " The parallel between verbal and physical gesture is highlighted particularly in the following formulas: She put her hand on him and spoke a word and called. She stroked him with her hand and spoke a word and called. " It has long been a puzzle, since not everyone of the fortythree occurrences of this formula in Homer is followed by an explicit vocative. Couch saw a more general consistency in that this half-line forms a "prelude to the words of a god or mortal, who is the superior of the person addressed, whether through recognized rank, mistaken identity, or the moral force of circumstances at the time that the speech is introduced.

But the converse is true. There is a range of "directive" expression. For example, Achilles' winged words upon recognizing Athena in Book 1 (201-5) take the form of an interrogative: "Why have you come, child of aegis-bearing Zeus? " Here the question jUnctions as a directive: Athena should perceive things the way Achilles does. " In other words, the goddess successfully reads the illocutionary force of Achilles' words, rather than replying to them as if they constituted an actual request for information.

22I). 379) Then anger took hold of Atreus' son, and quickly standing, he threatened with a muthos which indeed has been fulftlled. 3 87-88) Here and throughout the poem the authority underlying muthoi is acknowledged in the audience's response to a given speech; the addressee is most often persuaded. At times the success of a muthos is evident only from the behavior of the person listening-submission (willing or not), indignation at being commanded, fear. Often, however, the result is instantaneous and explicit in formulaic language.

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