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Defining Greek Narrative$
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Douglas Cairns and Ruth Scodel

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780748680108

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748680108.001.0001

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Structure as Interpretation in the Homeric Odyssey

Structure as Interpretation in the Homeric Odyssey

Chapter:
(p.75) 5 Structure as Interpretation in the Homeric Odyssey
Source:
Defining Greek Narrative
Author(s):

Erwin Cook

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9780748680108.003.0005

The Odyssey is structured through a series of ring-compositions. Although scholars have ubiquitously identified ring-compositions in Homer, the technique has not been adequately theorized. This paper argues that the ring structures contribute to a thematic development that assimilates Odysseus’ return into natural cycles, and implicitly promise prosperity to those who properly receive the narrative and even immortality to those who imitate its heroes. The poem even enacts the theme of Return by bringing the past vividly into the present. This use of a conventional pattern to direct audience reception distinguishes Greek epic from the oral epic traditions worldwide that it obviously resembles.

Keywords:   Odyssey, Ring Composition, Myth of Return, Oral epic

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