Scribo wrote:I don't think the Odyssey is about that completely, incidentally. I quite happily treat is as the story of Odysseus. It's been traditional to see is as a "transitional" piece, i.e how the age of heroes is ending but Odysseus can still retain his own. Perhaps with some reflections of the age of colonisation.
It strikes me that such an interpretation written about an important work of modern literature would be obviously shallow, even anti-intellectual.
What makes us so confident that ancient authors were incapable of doing anything more than passively voicing the putative historical tendencies of their times?
Why should the greatest single influence on Attic culture, cited favorably and unfavorably countless times by Plato and Aristotle, himself be incapable of actually thinking about anything beyond the horizons of his historical period?
The best approach to Homer, I think anyway, is to (try to) recognise it for what it is: a "post-traditional" narrative specifically about the past and better men. I don't want to use labels like "heroes", "heroic poetry" etc because these terms are quite frankly mere glosses in modern parlance and do not convey the full Greek connotations. But yeah, definitely treat them as monumental "heroic epics". It's quite clear that Agamemnon is not wind, that the gods DO interfere, that Akhilleus is one hell of an angry man. That, as it itself says, the Iliad is about the "wrath of Akhilleus" and the Odyssey "the clever man Odysseus". For Greek cosmology see Hesiod or the orphic corpus, for proper allegorical meanderings you'll want philosophy.
I certainly agree with the first part about avoiding modern jargon that conceals a lot of presuppositions foreign to the text. But I think your anxiousness to limit the possibilities of the Homeric epic to mere adventure stories is probably misguided.
Do you really want to fall into the endless cycle of overconfident scholars burying the bones for later scholars to discover? (To paraphrase Nietzsche.)
Homer was a profound thinker. If he were not he would not have so impressed the greatest tribe of thinkers the world has yet to produce.
Show some deference, for ...θεοὶ δέ τε πάντα ἴσασιν.