The "Odyssey": Structure, Narration and Meaning

The "Odyssey": Structure, Narration and Meaning


By (author) Bruce Louden

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  • Format: Hardback | 200 pages
  • Dimensions: 160mm x 221mm x 23mm | 567g
  • Publication date: 14 May 1999
  • Publication City/Country: Baltimore, MD
  • ISBN 10: 080186058X
  • ISBN 13: 9780801860584

Product description

This study uncovers an extended narrative that runs throughout the whole of the "Odyssey". Looking at such elements as characters' names, challenges faced by Odysseus, and roles assigned to the poem's women, Bruce Louden identifies a large sequence of successive motifs repeated in full three times throughout the "Odyssey", which provides the underlying skeletal structure for nearly all of the poem's plot. Louden's structural analysis helps explain the existence in the poem of several characters or episodes sometimes dismissed as extraneous or as late additions to or corruptions of the work. Further, the extended narrative pattern suggests that the epic has been transmitted to us as a whole rather than, as some critics believe, reconstructed from several smaller poems. Its existence also helps strengthen the possibility that the "Odyssey" was the product of an oral tradition. Though centrally concerned with the form through which the poem presents its rich and complex plot, Louden's study is not exclusively, or even primarily, formalistic. Based upon this close reading of the epic's structure, he offers interpretations of the poem, exploring the role of divine hostility in the narrative and locating the "Odyssey" within a mythic subgenre in which a deity's anger at the impiety of humanity results in the survival of a single just man out of an entire community.

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Author information

Bruce Louden is an associate professor of classics at the University of Texas at El Paso.

Review quote

"This book is an important and admirable study. Previous scholars have written on narrative patterns in the poem, but none so thoroughly as Bruce Louden. His scholarship is up-to-date and sound throughout and his writing lucid. A balanced and polished work."--Barry B. Powell, University of Wisconsin