This paper investigates internal evidence from the Homeric Hymns in order to trace the development from choral to monodic hymns. A study of the words humneo and humnos and the analysis of the embedded choral theogonic songs in the corpus of the Homeric Hymns show that women’s choral songs about gods are always identified as hymns, while the monodic theogonies, which are described in this corpus, are not identified as such. This division between choral and monodic hymns, reflected to some extent in the diction, is reconciled in the Homeric Hymn to Apollo, in which the poet, representing a different genre, addresses and praises the Delian Maidens – the choral singers par excellence. As the Homeric Hymns evolve from cultic, choral hymns, they turn the local praise of gods into panhellenic encomia. Such transition is also alluded to in other sources, in which hymns are disseminated and adapted by male performers, as a result of a female chorus’ instruction.
This paper discusses the modes of communication between the two speakers in Poseidon’s protest before Zeus in Odyssey 13.125–158, which results from the Phaeacians facilitating Odysseus’ arrival in Ithaca. As it appears, both interlocutors employ sophisticated techniques that revolve around the mega-theme of Poseidon’s menis against Odysseus. Even though the Sea-god conceals his anger, I maintain that it lurks in the background, and defines the discourse of both speakers in making their claims. On the one hand, Poseidon lets his rage emerge indirectly through his desire for vengeance at the Phaeacians; on the other hand, Zeus manages to negotiate the wrath theme while suppressing the divine decision that defied the Sea-god in the first place. Concealment of aspects of the story and allusions to otherwise suppressed objectives appear extensively in the present passage, which therefore constitutes an excellent case study in the tactics of the Odyssean gods from the angle of indirect communication.
Although Homer refers to the art of poetry in terms closely similar to those used by oral traditional poets interviewed by Parry and Lord, his own poems do not follow the poetics of a point-by-point narrative succession that they themselves proclaim. This is not yet to say that in ancient Greece there were no epic poems for which such traditional poetics would effectively account. The poems of the Epic Cycle, whose incompatibility with the narrative strategies of the Homeric epics was highlighted as early as Aristotle, are one such example. The fact that, although he repeatedly refers to the practice of traditional poetry, Homer is silent on the matter of his own poetic practice which differs markedly from it, raises the question of whether the Iliad and the Odyssey can be considered traditional poems in the proper sense of the word.
This contribution discusses the plot of the Odyssey as a field of opposing forces shaping the ending of the poem: (i) the generic tension between folktale and epic; (ii) the fundamental ambiguity of the poem’s climactic event, the killing of the Suitors (justice or revenge?); and (iii) the antagonism between Zeus and Poseidon. On this basis two competing scenarios for the ending of the poem are proposed: amnesia and departure, the former viewing the theme of revenge on the human plane, the latter on the divine.
The poets of that time seek to find a way to engrave their names on the wall of immortality through their works. One way of achieving this was by “filling in the gaps” Homer left in his poems, or continuing through them the stories he started. Colluthus, a Greek poet of Egypt, who lived under the reign of Anastasius (5th-6th centuries AD), is known as the author of the short poem The Abduction of Helen. This “prequel” to the Iliad comes after a very long tradition of legends concerning the beginning of the war of Troy. In the present paper I will study how Colluthus uses his characters’ immobility and motion in The Abduction of Helen. I will show that motion always causes a catastrophe, whereas immobility is a synonym for forced inaction or imprisonment.