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Folksy Thersites Φολκόσ / (Εφ)Όλκόσ

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Chapter Summary

A memorable passage in Book 2 of the Iliad describes the physical features of Thersites, 'the ugliest man to come to the walls of Ilion,' in greater detail than those of any other character in the epic (2.212-19). The context of this Iliadic passage seems to call for the meaning 'dragging'. The lameness in Thersites' foot is the subject of the next clause, and then the description works its way up his body to his shoulders, chest, head, and hair (or lack thereof). This evocation serves at least two functions. First, it reminds the audience of Thersites' previous cowardice indeed as an ironic counterpoint to his current verbal bravado, and thereby justifies Odysseus' subsequent public humiliation of him. Secondly, it draws a close parallel between Thersites and Hephaestus.

Keywords: Hephaestus; Iliad; lameness; Thersites



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