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Argues that Homer, the poet of the Iliad, may be fully distinguished from the narrator of Homeric poetry

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Table of Contents:

  • Plot and point of view in the Iliad
  • Book 1 : the "beginning" of the Iliad
  • Books 2-8 : Helen and glory
  • Book 9 : the desires of Achilleus
  • Books 10-17 : need and desire
  • Books 18-24 : plot and subplot converge.


Plot and Point of View in the Iliad argues that Homer, the poet of the Iliad, may be fully distinguished from the narrator of Homeric poetry, who is the Muse, and also from the heroes and heroines who live within the world of the story. The Iliad is a poem with a particularly rich and complex structure of perspectives, and as point of view as an element of storytelling has garnered tremendous interest in this century, critical attention has taken up this question in relation to Homer's poem.Robert Rabel argues that in different ways, both the Muse-narrator and the poet manipulate point of view in order to discover and define the meaning of the Iliad, placing various ways of thinking in competing and complementary relationships with one another. In the process, the Muse-narrator produces a sophisticated and compelling analysis of the tragic limitations of life in accordance with the heroic ethic. In the end, the poet provides a demonstration of the extent to which reality can only be grasped and apprehended in epic poetry through images that are constructed from various individual perspectives.This volume will be of interest to students of comparative and classical literature, philosophers, and readers of Homeric epic. All Greek passages are translated, and discussions of technical language are kept to a minimum. 

Robert J. Rabel is Associate Professor of Classics, University of Kentucky.