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The language of heroes and the language of heroines: Storytelling in oral traditional epic

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Chapter Summary

The author sees this chapter as a project which can enrich our understanding of the scope and flexibility of particular oral tradition; it will help us in our interpretation of the Homeric texts; it will shed light on certain aspects of Greek social relationships; and it will test a number of sociolinguistic assumptions about male and female relationships. It qualifies as a report on the micro-politics of language use in Homer’s world. It is clear that men’s stories for men in the everyday world have set the model for epic, with its ethos of action and achievement. The kinds of stories that women tell, on the other hand, have a role in epic only insofar as they act as a foil: their stories throw the physicality of the hero into relief against the more passive role that they themselves have been assigned, in the home and with the family.

Keywords: Greek social relationships; Homeric epics; men’s stories; micro-politics of language use; sociolinguistic assumptions; women’s stories



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