The Odyssey is structured through a series of ring-compositions. Although scholars have ubiquitously identified ring-compositions in Homer, the technique has not been adequately theorized. This paper argues that the ring structures contribute to a thematic development that assimilates Odysseus’ return into natural cycles, and implicitly promise prosperity to those who properly receive the narrative and even immortality to those who imitate its heroes. The poem even enacts the theme of Return by bringing the past vividly into the present. This use of a conventional pattern to direct audience reception distinguishes Greek epic from the oral epic traditions worldwide that it obviously resembles.
Contribution to Book
Structure as Interpretation in the Homeric OdysseyDefining Greek Narrative
Document TypeContribution to Book
Document Object Identifier (DOI)10.3366/edinburgh/9780748680108.003.0005
EditorDouglas Cairns and Ruth Scodel
PublisherEdinburgh University Press
Citation InformationCook, E.F. (2014). Structure as interpretation in the Homeric odyssey. In D. Cairns & R. Scodel (ed.), Defining Greek Narrative (pp. 75-101). Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.