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The Art and Rhetoric of the Homeric Catalogue$
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Benjamin Sammons

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780195375688

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195375688.001.0001

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Two Catalogues of Objects

Two Catalogues of Objects

(p.103) 3 Two Catalogues of Objects
The Art and Rhetoric of the Homeric Catalogue

Benjamin Sammons

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines two passages featuring catalogues of objects or treasure. In the first (Iliad 24.228–37), the poet catalogues the ransom assembled by king Priam to recover the body of Hector. The argument discusses how such a list can have a thematic or narrative dimension. Juxtaposition of this catalogue with other catalogues of Priam’s dead and surviving sons helps to define the extent of his present loss. The second example (Iliad 9.120–57) involves the ransom offered by Agamemnon to Achilles in his attempt to placate that hero. Agamemnon ingeniously transgresses the formal boundaries of the catalogue form to construct a narrative of the Trojan War and to inscribe Achilles within it, in a way that also imposes a particular interpretation on the Iliad itself. Examination of Achilles’ famous refusal of the ransom shows how the hero both recognizes and deconstructs the king’s exploitation of the catalogue form.

Keywords:   Priam, Achilles, Agamemnon, gifts, ransom, apoina, Embassy (to Achilles)

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