A Conversation for Homer's Odyssey

Homer's use of formulae

Post 1

anhaga

I think that (apart from gramatical problems which I'm sure will be fixed up by the editors) the biggest problem with this entry is its cursory (and inaccurate) discussion of Homer's use of formulaic language. Homer's poems are products of an Oral-Formulaic tradition and, as such, are made up almost wholly of formulae. To discuss Homer as though his works were "read" and to suggest that the formulae merely "helped the bard remember" is hopelessly inaccurate; the formulae were the fundamental units of expression for "Homer"(in the way words are for us) and the tradition was wholly illiterate. Something more really needs to be said about how the poem is constructed; as the entry stands its scholarship is a century out of date.


Homer's use of formulae

Post 2

Tom-the-flip-side

To say that Homer's poems are/were, 'made up almost wholly of formulae' is absolutely ludicrous and subsequently has me questioning whether or not you have ever actually read 'The Odyssey'. Perhaps to say that the poem itself was one large formula would be acceptable but to say that it is 'made up almost wholly of formulae' is just plain wrong. Perhaps I could suggest you read earlier works such (As I have already mentioned) Gilgamesh. Then perhaps you would understand what 'made up almost wholly of formulae' meant.

Yours truly,

Tom


Homer's use of formulae

Post 3

anhaga

Sorry if I've offended you. Believe me, I have read the works of Homer many times, same for Gilgamesh. I've also translated Beowulf and goodly portions of the Aeneid. I've also read most of the works of Milman Parry and Albert Lord, the scholars who have given us a true understanding of the compositional method used by Homer. I've had articles published in scholarly journals on the subject of Oral-Formulaic poetic composition. Despite your doubts, I do know whereof I speak and I certainly knew exactly what 'made up almost wholly of formulae' means. I'm sorry, but the poems of Homer are the product of an oral-formulaic tradition and as such, they are made up almost wholly of formulae. I think you need to do a little further research into what exactly the term formula signifies and also how exactly the poems of Homer work. I would recommend that you find a copy of Albert Lord's "Singer of Tales", which is a very nice introduction to the subject. As I mentioned earlier, the scholarship evidenced in your entry is a century old: the understanding brought to us by Parry and Lord has been the accepted framework for studying Homer for over half a century.


Homer's use of formulae

Post 4

ismarah - fuelled by M&Ms

Is someone subbing this?
If so, please look at the text under the last header - this mentions some five traits or techniques used by Homer, and then proceeds to list 4!

Anhaga - you seem very well versed in this, maybe you could tell me something. The names quoted here, are they accurate? I know that my edition of the Odyssey definately mentions Odysseus and not Odysseys, Telemachus and not Telemachas, and the same is true for my edition of the Iliad. Is there such a significant difference from one edition to the next?

cheerssmiley - disco ismarah


Homer's use of formulae

Post 5

anhaga

Ismarah:

I think the unusual spelling of names is just a case of typos. There are variations in transcription of the Greek but the examples you give don't look like any of the variations I've seen.

I don't know what's happening with this entry. Both versions are just called "Guide Entry" now.smiley - erm


Homer's use of formulae

Post 6

ismarah - fuelled by M&Ms

I´ve pointed Italics this way, even volunteering to sub this...
Unless it´s just a question of mistaken A numbers...

cheerssmiley - disco ismarah


Homer's use of formulae

Post 7

anhaga

according to "coming up" it's already been sub-edited. I'll be interested to find out what response you get.


Homer's use of formulae

Post 8

ismarah - fuelled by M&Ms

Yeah, that´s where I found this version, and from the listings, close to publication too...

There´s been no reply to my post yet, so we´ll just have to wait and see...

cheerssmiley - disco ismarah (yes, I know I abuse ...)


Homer's use of formulae

Post 9

ismarah - fuelled by M&Ms

Well, the response is that I´m subbing it. I´ve already done the most part, but I´d be quite happy for you to read it over once I finish and tell me if I´ve made any major errors. Please note that this will not be a rewrite, it´s a subbing. If you´re ok with this, I´ll let you know once it´s been updated...

cheerssmiley - disco ismarah


Homer's use of formulae

Post 10

ismarah - fuelled by M&Ms

Actually, Tom and Anhaga, would you agree with me when I state that you Tom are talking about foreshadowing, rather than dramatic irony, in the summary chapters that deal with irony?

As that chapter stands, it is not accurate enough and will be rewritten or cut...

Sorry to be brutal smiley - sadface

cheerssmiley - disco ismarah


Homer's use of formulae

Post 11

anhaga

actually, I think he really is talking about irony, but it is a little unclear. The irony depends to a certain extent on the audience having a familiarity with the story, but it also can simply depend on the audience having a memory. It is ironic that the words spoken as metaphor while stringing the bow become literally true later in the poem. Of course, it is foreshadowing as well.

I think the piece has taken an awfully large bite. If it were simply a quick summary of the poem it would be one thing. But to start a catalogue of the devices used in such a huge and variegated poem is a colossal task. A study such as this is made more complicated and problematic by its dependence on translations.


Homer's use of formulae

Post 12

ismarah - fuelled by M&Ms

One of that chapter´s problems is the fact that the terms irony and dramatic irony are used in turn, apparently to describe the same thing, which as far as I can tell from the examples given is neither.
It´s not really dramatic irony as the both the audience and half the characters know what will happen, as the characters have planned it themselves. Also, according to everything previous in the poem, the suitors are in the wrong, squandering Telemachus' inheritance and not wooing a lady in a proper manner, then plotting against Telemachus to ambush him <= these are not the actions of 'nice' people, ergo they are 'bad' and badness is usually punished.
Can it really be described as irony, that the suitors can´t string the bow that will kill them? I would have thought that would be considered justice of sorts - (together) they are not even half the man that Odysseus is, prove it by not being able to string his bow, yet they try and take over his life, his role - therefore, justice or revenge...

As it happened, I didn´t manage to do much study around the Odyssey, I mostly stuck with the primary text and a few pointers. I did read the text, very closely, and this was sort of my impression...

Also, I put more emphasis on the performed poem thing and took out nearly every reference to a book that was there, also added in more about how formulae works.

I´ve asked Anna to update this version with the draft I´ve done so far as this isn´t going through regular subbing channels at the moment. Once she has, I´ll let you know so you can both read it over.

cheerssmiley - disco ismarah


Homer's use of formulae

Post 13

ismarah - fuelled by M&Ms

Ok - Anna´s done her bit, so now this has changed to the subbed, draft version.
Please comment and hint and things and post...

cheerssmiley - disco ismarah


Homer's use of formulae

Post 14

anhaga

I'm still uncomfortable with the picture presented of the compositional method behind the poem. The poem was not memorised in any familiar sense; each performance was a unique re-composition. The speaker or rhapsode, was the artist, the poet. And again, to say that formulae are used infrequently in just not accurate.

Check the edited Beowulf entry A994665 and the recommended Hero on the Beach entry A1018577 for brief overviews of oral-formulaic composition, the method which was used to create the Homeric poems.


Homer's use of formulae

Post 15

ismarah - fuelled by M&Ms

Sorry, I thought I´d taken out that 'infrequently'...

I´ll go read your work smiley - winkeye

cheerssmiley - disco ismarah


Homer's use of formulae

Post 16

ismarah - fuelled by M&Ms

Draft 2 is now online. I made massive structural changes this time and I think it works a lot better like this. Tell me what you think...

cheerssmiley - disco ismarah


Homer's use of formulae

Post 17

anhaga

"memorize all kinds of
different possiblities of rhyme and wording" Homer doesn't rhyme. perhaps "rhythm" would work.

"However, in the Odyssey formulae are not used too often and mostly
help the story." This erroneous statement just keeps hanging on. The whole paragraph should probably be excised.


Homer's use of formulae

Post 18

ismarah - fuelled by M&Ms

Ok - I´ve taken out that silly sentence, hiding like it was at the bottom of a paragraph...

Also replaced rhyme with rythm. However, due to italics blithely taking holidays, we can´t get it updated again for about a week.

Would you say that with the above changes, this is now OK to go into the EG?

cheerssmiley - disco ismarah


Homer's use of formulae

Post 19

anhaga

Let me give it a good reading over tonight (it's morning here right now). I've got to get to work.


Homer's use of formulae

Post 20

ismarah - fuelled by M&Ms

have fun at work smiley - smiley (of course, since I´m GMT, my day is close to over)

And there´s a rogue 'at' in there somewhere which I´ve removed in the third draft, just FYI...

thanks smiley - smiley

cheerssmiley - disco ismarah


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