Tracing Homeric Metaphor
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Forte, Alexander S W
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CitationForte, Alexander S W. 2017. Tracing Homeric Metaphor. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.
AbstractHow can one analyze the mind of an ancient poet, or of poets? To answer this question, this dissertation initiates an interdisciplinary treatment of the underlying metaphors in the Homeric Iliad and Odyssey using cognitive and historical linguistics. By applying linguistic methodology to poetics, I explore how these new approaches to metaphor reveal the compositional strategies of oral poetry.
I choose as a case study perhaps the most famous metaphor in Homeric poetry, epea pteroenta, “winged words,” showing how a novel combination of cognitive and historical linguistics can shed new light on this famous phrase. The phrase finds its closest analogs, from both a cognitive metaphorical and inherited phraseological standpoint, within the oldest strata of the Zoroastrian liturgy of ancient Iran and the Vedas of ancient India.
Accepting that our Homeric poems are the products of a long and dynamic tradition of oral poetry, my analysis of Patroclus’ burial in book 23 of the Iliad treats the relationship between narrative memory and poetic memory, and specifically posits that similes in book 22 of the Iliad, involving chases and racing, reveal metaphors that appear in Iliad 23. These metaphors are the basis of Homeric mnemonic and compositional techniques throughout the poems. The fourth chapter argues that nostos “return” was conceptualized as a chariot race, and life as a race against death, and that these conceptual metaphors were fully operative in the races in Patroclus’ funeral games, as well as received and transformed in the epics of Apollonius Rhodius and Virgil. The final chapter details the relationship between conceptual metaphors and allegory, arguing that Homeric poetry authorizes what one might call “allegorical” poetic interpretation, and that later epic authors knew as much.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:41140196
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