30 January 2008

Answering him she spoke...

I recently read the BMCR review of A. Kelly's A Referential Commentary and Lexicon to Homer, Iliad VIII. It seemed very interesting so I was delighted to find it in our library. The review will give more details, but basically he presents the text of Iliad VIII on one page and on the facing page gives the title and number indexed to the referential lexicon for every phrase of interest. The entries in that lexicon may be specific phrases, like κέκλυτέ μοι or more general thematic matters — a chariot journey, say.

For each of these entries he has checked the rest of the Iliad for similar words, phrases and scenes, seeking out narrative similarities. The results are really fascinating. For example, the phrase κέκλυτέ μοι is in every case used by someone under a delusion: "[s]peeches so introduced are allotted to figures of particular authority, and contain proposals which are not usually carried out (a narrative disjunction being the result when they are not) and reveal the speaker's delusion" (p. 76). Or οὐδ’ ἀπιθήσεν "denotes acceptance of a command or suggestion (usually from a previous speech), connoting that its substance is then played out in the course of the narrative in the manner forseen by the character giving the command. The command is usually successful." (p. 54). Or again, ἰθὺς μεμαῶτος ("straight eager") "accompanies the onset of a character about to be defeated."

So not only is Homer helping to keep the audience straight with the usual pragmatic tools available to Greek — like those flourishing particles — but the formulaic language itself has a sort of, well, narrative semantics I guess you might call it.

Appendix A is devoted to three speech introduction formulae. He hunts down every scene in the Iliad where two or more of these are used. According to him τὸν δ’ ἠμείβετ’ ἔπειτα indicates emotional perturbation, τὸν δ’ αὖτε προσέειπεν is used when the speaker "will or wants to align himself in a co-operative relationship with the first speaker," and the (similar to the first) τὸν δ’ ἀπαμειβόμενος προσέφη "represents a relatively greater determination on the part of the speaker to impose his or her will upon the narrative."

Considering the size of Iliad VIII, the commentary is substantial — 515 pages total for the book. I've barely begun to stare closely at all the comparative passages Kelly mentions, and I suspect some of his comments hang of very thin threads indeed. But I've have been paying closer attention to the speech introductions in the Odyssey books we're reading in class. So far Appendix A seems rock solid.


filologanoga said...

Did you notice - does Kelly mention Chicago Homer somewhere?

Wm said...

You'd think the Chicago Homer would be perfect for just this sort of thing, but the only electronic resource he mentions is the TLG (footnote 51, p.14). Otherwise he used Tebben's Concordantia Homerica I & II (1994, 1998) and Prendergast and Marzullo's A Complete Concordance to the Iliad of Homer (1962).