The Iliad’s big swoon: a case of innovation within the epic tradition

Barker, Elton (2011). The Iliad’s big swoon: a case of innovation within the epic tradition. Trends in Classics, 3(1) pp. 1–17.

URL: http://www.degruyter.com/view/j/tcs.2011.3.issue-1...

Abstract

In book 5 of the Iliad Sarpedon suffers so greatly from a wound that his ‘‘ψυχή leaves him’. Rather than dying, however, Sarpedon lives to fight another day. This paper investigates the phrase τὸν δὲ λίπε ψυχή in extant archaic Greek poetry to gain a sense of its traditional referentiality and better assess the meaning of Sarpedon’s swoon. Finding that all other instances of the ψυχή leaving the body signify death, it suggests that the Iliad exploits a traditional unit of utterance to flag up the importance of Sarpedon to this version of the Troy story.

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