Epithets with echoes: A study on formula-narrative interaction

Yamagata, Naoko (2012). Epithets with echoes: A study on formula-narrative interaction. In: Montanari, Franco; Rengakos, Antonios and Tsagalis, Christos C. eds. Homeric Contexts: Neoanalysis and the Interpretation of Oral Poetry. Trends in Classics: Supplementary Volumes (12). Berlin, Germany & New York, USA: Walter de Gruyter, pp. 445–468.


This article challenges the strictest form of the Parry-Lord theory, which takes the elaborate system of stock-expressions to fill particular positions in hexameter verse to be the evidence of quasi-mechanical versification, which implies that the poet is indifferent to the meaning of such fixed epithets as ‘swift-footed’ for Achilles. By surveying the two most frequently used types of noun-epithet formulae and their ‘echoes’ throughout the Homeric texts, this article argues that the poet is conscious of the meaning of even the most fixed of the fixed epithets.

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