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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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Exemplarity and Narrative in the Greek Tradition

Exemplarity and Narrative in the Greek Tradition

Chapter:
(p.102) (p.103) 6 Exemplarity and Narrative in the Greek Tradition
Source:
Defining Greek Narrative
Author(s):

Douglas Cairns

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9780748680108.003.0006

Achilles’ remarks on the jars of Zeus at Iliad 24. 525ff) illustrate a characteristic archaic Greek attitude towards the nature and possibility of happiness. This ‘principle of alternation’ recurs in a variety of forms, from individual aphorisms to large-scale narrative patterns, throughout Greek literature. Though the general notion of the mutability of fortune can be readily paralleled in other cultures, the principle of alternation has a particular salience in Greek narrative thanks to its presentation, in exemplary form, in the Greek tradition's most exemplary work. This is a model to which Greek narratives repeatedly and explicitly return. It is a good example of how the encapsulation of traditional norms, with their associated ways of feeling, in a traditional artistic form encourages a symbiotic replication both of the form and of the response that it evokes; it helps define the emotional and ethical repertoire of both artists and audience.

Keywords:   Exemplarity, Alternation, Mutability, Fate and fortune, Emotion

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