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The Expression of Sarcasm in the Odyssey

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image of Mnemosyne

I begin with a survey of relevant literature on sarcastic talk as it occurs in the anglophone world today. Having developed a ‘view’ of sarcasm in this contemporary world, I turn to the expression of sarcasm in Homer. My examination of the spoken exchanges in the second half of the Odyssey reveals many features in common with sarcastic talk in the contemporary world. I go on to demonstrate that the poet has used sarcastic talk to shape character, to establish mood, and, above all, to give structure to the scenes which bring together Odysseus and the suitors in the palace on Ithaka.

Affiliations: 1: Classics and Ancient History Program, The Australian National University Canberra ACT Australia 0200, Email:


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