Agamemnon in Homer: reading character through tradition
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[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT AUTHOR'S REQUEST.] In this research project I outline a consistent methodology for assessing characterization in the oral-derived Homeric epics and I apply this methodology to Agamemnon. My methodology involves reading one instant of character portrayal through the lens of the greater tradition. Through careful study of the implications of the traditional phraseology of Homer and a close consideration of all of Agamemnon's appearances, I suggest that there was a world of stories known to the Homeric poets and their audiences that affected the characterization of Agamemnon (and the audiences' reception of his portrayal), including the cursed history of the House of Atreus and his sorry Return. The unfavorable portrayal of Agamemnon in Homer - he is impetuous, thoughtless, arrogant, and inept - is a consequence of Agamemnon's participation in these tales. Their immanent presence as background for any particular narrative moment should also inform our reading of Agamemnon as a traditional character and help us to hear Homer's poetry more as ancient audiences heard it.
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