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Homer and the Poetics of Hades

GAZIS, GEORGIOS (2015) Homer and the Poetics of Hades. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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In this thesis I examine Homer’s use of Hades as a poetic resource that allows a different approach to the epic past than the one provided through Muse-inspired narrative. By portraying Hades as a realm where vision is not possible (A - ides), I argue, Homer creates a unique poetic environment in which social constraints and divine prohibitions are not applicable. The result is a narrative that emulates that of the Muses but at the same time is markedly distinct from it, as in Hades experimentation with, and alteration of, important epic forms and values can be pursued, giving rise to a different kind of poetics. I have called this the ‘Poetics of Hades.’
In the Iliad, Homer offers us a glimpse of how this alternative poetics works through the visit of Patroclus’ shade in Achilles’ dream. The recollection offered by the shade reveals an approach to its past in which regret, self-pity and a lingering memory of intimate and emotional moments displace an objective tone, and a traditional exposition of heroic values such as kleos and timē. I argue that the potential of Hades for providing alternative means of commemorating the past is more fully explored in the ‘Nekyia’ of Odyssey 11; there, Odysseus’ extraordinary ability to see (idein) the dead in Hades allows him to meet and interview the shades of heroines and heroes of the epic past. The absolute confinement of Hades allows the shades to recount their stories from their own personal point of view. The poetic implications of this, I argue, are important since by visiting Hades and listening to the stories of the shades Odysseus, and Homer with him, gain access to a tradition in which epic values associated with gender roles and even divine law are suspended, in favour of a more immediate and personally inflected approach to the epic past.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Greek Epic, Homer, Darkness, Hades, Death, Odyssey, Iliad
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Classics and Ancient History, Department of
Thesis Date:2015
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:10 Jul 2015 10:21

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