Manti kakon: The Uncanny Prophecies of Calchas in the Iliad and Beyond

Clarke, Anactoria (2021). Manti kakon: The Uncanny Prophecies of Calchas in the Iliad and Beyond. Preternature: Critical and Historical Studies on the Preternatural, 10(1) pp. 11–33.



This article examines the practice of prophecy, delivered both through interpretation of signs and direct (enthusiastic) means, and how this practice relates to the economy. It discusses the relation of Freud's "The Uncanny," along with Julia Kristeva's theory of abjection, in reference to both what is known of ancient practice and how this is presented in ancient epic and reception texts. The key focus is Calchas, the prophet of the Iliad, and how he is rendered in ancient and modern reception, with specific attention to Euripedes's Iphigenia at Aulis, Seneca's Trojan Women, Quintus Smyrnaeus's Posthomerica, Barry Unsworth's The Songs of the Kings, Michael Hughes's Country and Pat Barker's The Silence and the Girls. This article also considers how prophecy in mythology is portrayed as uncanny, and how elements of enthusiastic prophecy heighten this uncanny aspect.

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