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Christopher Faraone (U. Chicago): Female Lament in the Iliad: the Play of Hexametrical Genres in Homeric Epic

This Geballe workshop examines the relationship of oral and written literature from a multidisciplinary perspective, considering topics such as the transmission and textualization of folk literature, the interplay between spoken word and written text, and the sociology of reading and performance.
The general scholarly consensus has been that, the poet of the Iliad was the first to imitate spoken dirges improvised antiphonally by women at funerals and to render these speeches in hexametrical form. I will argue to the contrary that the embedded laments in the Iliad provide us with the earliest evidence for a short genre of hexametrical lament chanted primarily by women at the funerals of relatives and in the cult of Adonis. As we shall see, the very early existence of the latter tradition greatly helps explain why the poet uniquely likens both Kassandra and Briseis to the goddess Aphrodite at the moment when they begin to keen out loud for a dead young man – that is: just as the goddess once did for Adonis.
Professor Faraone is the Frank Curtis Springer and Gertrude Melcher Springer Professor in the Humanities and Professor in the Department of Classics. He received his PhD from Stanford in 1988, where he wrote a dissertation on apotropaic images in Greek myth and ritual under the direction of John Winkler. His publications include Talismans and Trojan Horses: Guardian Statues in Ancient Greek Myth and Ritual; Ancient Greek Love MagicThe Stanzaic Architecture of Archaic Greek Elegy; and Vanishing Acts: Deletio Morbi as Speech Act and Visual Design on Ancient Greek Amulets. He is also the recipient of many awards and grants, including recently a fellowship from the National Endowment of the Humanities.



Friday, February 12, 2016. 12:00PM


Building 110, Rm 112


Department of Classics




Free and open to general public.