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Homer and the Folktale

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Chapter Summary

In 1857 Wilhelm Grimm published an essay on the story of Poly-phemos and its analogues in international oral tradition, in which he concluded that both the Homeric and the later texts were essentially independent realizations of an international oral story. Like literary works, oral stories can be grouped according to genres. Folktales are traditional fictions, that is, entertaining, instructive, or consolatory tales in which the issue of historicity is unimportant. A memorable feature that appears commonly in the folktale texts but not in Homer is the episode of the magic ring by means of which the blinded ogre makes a last attempt to get hold of the hero. The Meleager legend is recounted in part in the Iliad in the course of the embassy to Achilleus, in which Phoinix cites Meleager as a negative paradigm for Achilleus, an example of how he should not behave.

Keywords: Achilleus; folktale; Homer; Meleager; oral story; Phoinix



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