Queen of the Curse: The Odyssey's Formulaic Interrogation and Arete's Determination of Odysseus' Identity
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[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT AUTHOR'S REQUEST.] This dissertation establishes the compositional authority of Arete, queen of the Phaeacians, in Homer's Odyssey by means of an oral poetic analysis of the thematic and formulaic structures in the epic. Arete's fit in the poem has often been viewed as incomplete or awkward; however, by presenting a growing body of evidence concerning her thematic relevance to the Odyssey, in addition to revealing new observations about her formulaic interrogation of Odysseus at Od. 7.238, this study proves that Arete is tied deeply to the central compositional structures of the epic, and her recognition and acceptance of Odysseus as a guest among the Phaeacians is pivotal to his nostos, the primary goal of the epic. Most relevant to Arete's compositional role is the intratextual resonance of the formulaic interrogation \"tis pothen eis andron . . . , \" a formula that metonymically comes to mean "which Odysseus are you?" and is used to trigger a set of narrative events that lead to critical, nostos-determining moments of performance and recognition in the epic. This study ultimately calls for a new understanding of Homeric formularity and reexamines the metapoetics of memorialization through a close study of Arete and her role in the epic. Although the queen and her people are prophetically tied to Poseidon's destructive wrath, Arete's role in forwarding Odysseus' nostos affords her a place of high honor in the Odyssey's performance as we now have it.
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