[Rhetoric-and-poetics] Alex Purves (10/3 Thursday 3:30)

The Rhetoric and Poetics Workshop is proud to present

Alex Purves (University of California, Los Angeles, Classics) on
“Odysseus’ Last Leap: Unfinished Action in Homeric Epic”

Thursday, October 3rd, 3:30 pm in Classics 21

A reception will follow.
Persons with a disability who feel they may need assistance are asked to contact
Kathy Fox (702-8514) in advance.

This paper starts at the end of the Odyssey, with the leap that Odysseus performs (οἴμησεν δὲ ἀλεὶς ὥς τ’ αἰετὸς ὑψιπετήεις, 24.538) directly after being called on by Athena to stop fighting. What is such an action doing at the very end of the poem? How does this expansive but incomplete gesture orient the poem towards closure? I pair this action with the famous moment from the beginning of the Iliad when Athena prevents Achilles from fully drawing his sword. In both cases, I argue, the heroes attempt to perform gestures that are at odds with the demands of the narrative, leading to a dynamic tension between plot and habitual action – especially in so far as the latter is structured by a kind of rebellious repetition.

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