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The Meaning of Meat and the Structure of the Odyssey

$103.00 (C)

  • Date Published: May 2013
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9780521111201

$ 103.00 (C)
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About the Authors
  • This comprehensive study of the Odyssey sees in meat and meat consumption a centre of gravitation for the interpretation of the poem. It aims to place the cultural practices represented in the poem against the background of the (agricultural) lived reality of the poem's audiences in the archaic age, and to align the themes of the adventures in Odysseus' wanderings with the events that transpire at Ithaca in the hero's absence. The criminal meat consumption of the suitors of Penelope in the civilised space of Ithaca is shown to resonate with the adventures of Odysseus and his companions in the pre-cultural worlds they are forced to visit. The book draws on folklore studies, the anthropology of hunting cultures, the comparative study of oral traditions, and the agricultural history of archaic and classical Greece. It will also be of interest to narratologists and students of folklore and Homeric poetics.

    • Presents a comprehensive new reading of the Odyssey revolving about the importance (economic and symbolic) of meat in Homeric and archaic Greek society
    • Introduces novel anthropological perspectives to the study of the poem
    • Provides new analyses of Homeric formulaic language, thereby making an important contribution to the ongoing discussion of 'intertextuality' in Greek and Latin literature
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    Reviews & endorsements

    "This is a wonderful book … it manages to use the matrix of sacrifice, feasting, division of meat and consumption as a lens through which to examine the entire complex range of ideas and values that constitute the world of epic … It is succinct, detailed and successfully articulates a view of the poems that blends the best of the oral tradition and the literary … All in all, a splendid book and a significant contribution to our understanding of the poems Bakker admirably describes as "unique and best"."
    Bryn Mawr Classical Review

    "… a highly engaging study on the symbolic value and religious importance of meat in The Odyssey … an enjoyable, useful and important addition to the vast field of Homeric studies."
    D. Felton, The Classical Review

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    Product details

    • Date Published: May 2013
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9780521111201
    • length: 206 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 13 mm
    • weight: 0.45kg
    • contains: 1 b/w illus. 2 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Prologue: food for song
    1. Epos and aoidê
    2. Nostos as quest
    3. Meat in myth and life
    4. Unlimited goats and counted sheep
    5. Feasting in the land of the dawn
    6. The revenge of the sun
    7. The justice of Poseidon
    8. Remembering the gastêr
    Epilogue: on 'interformularity'.

  • Author

    Egbert J. Bakker, Yale University, Connecticut
    Egbert J. Bakker is Professor of Classics at Yale University, Connecticut. Within the wider area of the interaction between linguistic analysis and literary interpretation he works mainly on the language, poetics and interpretation of the Homeric poems. He has lectured and published widely on both linguistic and literary subjects. Among his publications are Linguistics and Formulas in Homer (1988), Poetry in Speech: Orality and Homeric Discourse (1997) and Pointing at the Past: From Formula to Performance in Homeric Poetics (2005). He has co-edited Brill's Companion to Herodotus (2002) and is the editor of A Companion to the Ancient Greek Language (2010).

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