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The “Body without Skin” in the Homeric Poems

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Chapter Summary

The 'corporeal' theme is one of the most important in Homeric epic. This chapter demonstrates the reversibility and frequent indistinguishability of bodily surface and depth manifested by chrôs, through showing its semantic proximity to flesh, sarx, and its difference from derma and rhinos, skin (of an animal) separable from the (animal) body, and finally its liquidity, common both for chrôs and the internal 'organs'. The author often equates chrôs with the 'body' in his analysis, with the following important proviso: it is 'body without skin', the quotation marks stressing the conditionality of any term that is used in the analysis of Homeric understanding of the 'body', a concept that is absent in the Iliad and the Odyssey due to the abundance of terms used to denote the body. In Homer, the hygienic procedures of washing and anointing are quite frequent.

Keywords:anointing; body without skin; chrôs; derma; Homeric poem; Iliad; liquid body; Odyssey; rhino



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