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Omens and Messages in the Iliad and Odyssey: A Study in Transmission

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Chapter Summary

The Iliad and Odyssey present mortals of all classes readily engaging with omens but focus on the elite when it comes to getting at the divine will in ways that do not involve reading omens. This chapter examines the poet's representation of what his characters think about omens, but the external audience also witnesses the epics' omens and returns to the second component of messenger scenes. In discussing the external audience's opportunity, an opportunity denied to the internal recipient(s) to compare the sender's version of the message with the messenger's version, it pointed to the external audience's ability to track the messenger's rhetorical machinations. The Homeric audience can apply more precisely components of the omen, usually analogical omens, to the situation at hand or can supplement the omen's interpretation, although when it comes to the last scene discussed in the chapter (from Odyssey 20), they can provide an extensive supplement.

Keywords: Iliad; Odyssey; Omens



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