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Homeric Receptions

Posted: Sat Apr 04, 2015 5:26 pm
by Ahab
Paul Derouda wrote:I'm pretty much in agreement with Ahab that we should try to understand Homer as much as possible in his own context. But perhaps there is a paradox - perhaps this modern approach in itself, this idea of "objectivity", is a form of cultural appropriation, only one typical of the "scientific age"?
Interesting comment. However, I don't think "objectivity" or "scientific" is an accurate description of my approach to understanding Homer. Haven't all readers at all times attempted to understand what it is they are reading?

I think that after understanding what a text says then people can interpret it in different ways. Interpretation presupposes understanding. So one could make an allegorical or philosophical or scientific interpretation of a literary text based on their understanding of the text.

Perhaps we are more aware of the diversity of interpretations available to readers than earlier generations were? Am assuming this would be an issue that is dealt with in reception studies.

Have to admit I am rather ignorant of reception studies, so maybe I am being very naive in my approach here. In any case, am sort of thinking out loud here, so what I have written may not be making good sense.

Paul, I hope you don't mind me moving your post over into a new thread. Just didn't want to end up hijacking the other excellent one that Bart started.

Re: Homeric Receptions

Posted: Mon Apr 06, 2015 7:23 pm
by Paul Derouda
I don't know reception studies either. I would suppose it is like you say, that we are more aware of the diversity of interpretations available to earlier generations, and probably we can understand even "Homer" better.

My comment was a bit playful. Still, I think it's something that really is typical of our age, that we want to step back in a way and try to see the the different contexts that give different interpretations, especially the original one where "Homer" himself lived. For this reason, I think we can understand Homer better than previous generations. For an analogy, a kid who is very attentive at school during history class will probably know a lot more hard facts about Christianity than a kid who goes to Sunday school but skips history class (you can substitute any other religion if you like). Still, however bright the first kid is, there will be things about Christianity the he or she will have hard time understanding, because religion is so emotional. (And like I said, I was being playful, I don't really feel nostalgia for the "good old times" - I feel very much at home in the "scientific age" and btw I'm definitely a firm supporter of secularity (laïcité in the French way)).

Re: Homeric Receptions

Posted: Tue Apr 07, 2015 7:58 pm
by Markos
Paul Derouda wrote:...I'm definitely a firm supporter of secularity (laïcité in the French way).
I'm a rock-ribbed Christian fundamentalist who happens to think that laïcité is a great idea.

What would it be in Ancient Greek? ἡ λαϊκοσύνη?

Re: Homeric Receptions

Posted: Wed Apr 08, 2015 8:08 pm
by Bart
Does Homer as source of inspiration also count as 'reception'? If not, sorry for bringing the following up. I read the famous passage about the making of Achilles' shield today, surely another highlight of the Iliad. One of the great things about it, is that it's not simply a description of a shield but of the making of it; before our eyes we see within its confines a world being created. Or as Gotthold Ephraim Lessing puts it:

"Homer malet nämlich das Schild nicht als ein fertiges vollendetes, sondern als ein werdendes Schild. Er hat also auch hier sich des gepriesenen Kunstgriffes bedienet, das Koexistierende seines Vorwurfs in ein Konsekutives zu verwandeln, und dadurch aus der langweiligen Malerei eines Körpers das lebendige Gemälde einer Handlung zu machen. Wir sehen nicht das Schild, sondern den göttlichen Meister, wie er das Schild verfertiget. Er tritt mit Hammer und Zange vor seinen Amboß, und nachdem er die Platten aus dem Gröbsten geschmiedet, schwellen die Bilder, die er zu dessen Auszierung bestimmt, vor unsern Augen, eines nach dem andern, unter seinen feinern Schlägen aus dem Erzte hervor. Eher verlieren wir ihn nicht wieder aus dem Gesichte, bis alles fertig ist. Nun ist es fertig, und wir erstaunen über das Werk, aber mit dem gläubigen Erstaunen eines Augenzeugens, der es machen sehen."

Anyway, I realised that for the first time I read the source of inspiration of one of my favourite poems by Auden, appropiately titled 'The Shield of Achilles'. And knowing them both, Homer and Auden, source of inspiration and its offspring, enriches my enjoyment of both. For me, at least, that's one of the great privileges of reading Homer: to read his great verses and to hear them echo through history right up to the present.

NB: I found this audio of Auden reading the poem himself
( https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=hpblaBb93fo)