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Flesh and Spirit in the Songs of Homer : A Study of Words and Myths - Michael Clarke

Flesh and Spirit in the Songs of Homer

A Study of Words and Myths

Hardcover Published: 1st March 1999
ISBN: 9780198152637
Number Of Pages: 400

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In the epics of Homer people experience emotions, carry out thought, express themselves, suffer death, and survive in a shadowy afterlife. When Homer describes these processes he reveals his sense of human identity; his conception of the self and its relation to the visible body. Despite many generations of study a fully satisfactory account of that conception has never been offered, partly because analyses of word-meanings, world-picture, and literary tradition have proceeded along separate paths. This book offers a newly integrated interpretation of Homeric man. The author starts with the working hypothesis that, in this poetry, the human being is not divided into two parts - inner and outer; body and soul; flesh and spirit - but stands as an indivisible unity. Thought and emotion are precisely the same as the movement of breath, blood, and fluids in the breast; the thinking self and the visible flesh are inextricably united, with no sense of man having either a mind or a body as a constituent part of himself; and at death the journey to the Underworld is fundamentally the same as the descent of the corpse into the soil. The last part of this analysis leads to a reassessment of the Homeric psuche, an entity which leaves the mouth at death and whose name is often misleadingly translated as soul. This study of the psuche leads to a new view of life in the Underworld, with wider implications for the study of the interrelation between myth, poetic narrative, and the meanings of early Greek words.

`by close and detailed attention to the words of Homer, C. has arrived at a sophisticated reconsideration of previous understandings of a set of slippery terms that are at the centre of how the corporeal self is constituted in the Homeric world.' Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2001.09.28 `applies a keenly critical eye to a full range of Homeric material.' Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2001.09.28 `a thorough and thoughtful new perspective ... C. brings a keen eye for detail, a strong philological background, and a willingness to rethink received understandings. These qualities are in evidence throughout and make C.'s book essential reading for all interested in the Homeric poems' Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2001.09.28 `accurate and erudite' M.J.Edwards, The Classical Review, Vol.51, No.1, 2001 `an interesting and important book' S. Douglas Olson, Religious Studies Review, Vol 27, No 2, April 2001 `A closely argued but very readable study of Homeric life and death, based on a doctoral dissertation. Clarke's central thesis is that a distinction between soul and body (misleadingly characterized as "modern") is foreign to epic poetry.' S. Douglas Olson, Religious Studies Review, Vol 27, No 2, April 2001

Texts, Abbreviations, and Commentaries
Homeric Words and Homeric Ideas
The Categories of Body and Soul
The Language of Thought and Life
The Breath of Life and the Meaning of [actual symbol not reproducible]
Mental Life and the Body
Death and the Afterlife
The Dying Gasp and the Journey to Hades
The Corpse and the Afterlife
The Shaping of Myth
The Personalities of Death
Conclusion: The Dynamics of Mythical Image-making
Epilogue: Flesh and Spirit in Language and Lore after Homer
Index of Words
Index of Passages
General Index
Table of Contents provided by Blackwell. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780198152637
ISBN-10: 0198152639
Series: Oxford Classical Monographs
Audience: Professional
Format: Hardcover
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 400
Published: 1st March 1999
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 21.59 x 13.97  x 2.54
Weight (kg): 0.63