More by John Miles Foley
A Companion to the Near Eastern, Greek, and Roman epic traditions Considers the interrelation between these different traditions Provides a balanced overview of longstanding ideas and newer perspectives in the study of epic Shows how scholarship over the last forty years has transformed the ways that we conceive of and understand the genre Covers recently introduced topics, such as the role of women, the history of reception, and comparison with living analogues from oral tradition The editor and contributors are leading scholars in the field Includes a detailed index of poems, poets, technical terms, and important figures and events
In Homer's Traditional Art, Foley addresses three crucially interlocking areas that lead us to a fuller appreciation of the Homeric poems. He first explores the reality of Homer as their actual author, examining historical and comparative evidence to propose that "Homer" is a legendary and anthropomorphic figure rather than a real-life author. He next presents the poetic tradition as a specialized and highly resonant language bristling with idiomatic implication. Finally, he looks at Homer's overall artistic achievement, showing that it is best evaluated via a poetics aimed specifically at works that emerge from oral tradition.
Along the way, Foley offers new perspectives on such topics as characterization and personal interaction in the epics, the nature of Penelope's heroism, the implications of feasting and lament, and the problematic ending of the Odyssey. His comparative references to the South Slavic oral epic open up new vistas on Homer's language, narrative patterning, and identity.
Homer's Traditional Art represents a disentangling of the interwoven strands of orality, textuality, and verbal art. It shows how we can learn to appreciate how Homer's art succeeds not in spite of the oral tradition in which it was composed but rather through its unique agency.
Until now, the emphasis in studies of oral traditional works has been placed on addressing the correspondences among traditions—shared structures of "formula," "theme," and "story-pattern." Traditional Oral Epic explores the incongruencies among traditions and focuses on the qualities specific to certain oral and oral-derived works. It is certain to inspire further research in this field.