What is on Homer's mind?
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CitationNagy, Gregory. 2016.02.11. “What is on Homer's mind?” Classical Inquiries. http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:hul.eresource:Classical_Inquiries.
AbstractIn the verbal art of Homeric poetry, we find two passages where Homer actually says that he has something on his mind. The first something is the good ship Argo in Odyssey 12.70 and the second something is the hero Odysseus himself in Odyssey 9.19. In the logic of the poetry, the master story-teller of this poetry has the Argo and Odysseus on his mind for a superficial reason: it is because all humans have the Argo and Odysseus on their minds. But there is a deeper reason to be found in this chicken-and-egg relationship between what is on the poet’s mind and what is on the minds of all humans. It is assumed that all humans have on their minds both the ship Argo and the hero Odysseus, who as we are about to see is a great admirer of the Argo and of its intrepid sailors, the Argonauts. And why do all humans have these things on their minds? It is because Homer himself has these things on his mind when he mentions them. The universalizing of the Argo and of Odysseus by Homeric poetry makes sense only because this poetry assumes its own universal appeal as a given.
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- CHS Classical Inquiries