The Devious Narrator Of The Odyssey Analysis

1371 Words6 Pages
Ming Van Kalker
Richardson, S. “The Devious Narrator of the Odyssey”, Classical Journal (2006) 101.4, 337-359.
Scott Richardson is attempting, at a first glance, to, in a strange and not altogether believable way, proclaim that Homer is obviously misleading and misinforming his audience, and in this way greatly resembles his own character Odysseus. It seems that he is attempting to convince us, by way of literary arguments, that Homer has irreparably broken the trust between reader and writer, that he has raised multiple false expectations and that he has greatly mislead us on multiple instances. On a second glance, Richardson is endeavoring, still not altogether quite believably, to show that Homer has written in a way that gives the reader
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Richardson complains that Homer has broken the contract between narrator and reader when he says or implies that one thing will happen, then has something else happen instead. This is not Homer being a bad writer, or misleading maliciously, or doing something wrong, this is Richardson acting as a bad reader and assuming things that he should not be. Richardson assumes, wrongfully so, that when the story starts off and the reader discovers that it is about Odysseus, that the story will start off on Calypso’s island. When it starts off on Olympus, he also complains that the conversation doesn’t even start on Odysseus, but on Orestes, who killed his own mother for the murder of his father. This start of the conversation actually gives the reader a time-line to think about. Richardson is writing in a way that almost seems to assume that the readers/hearers of Homer’s Odyssey have no foreknowledge of any sort of mythos at all, this is of course not true. Ancient Greeks were well versed in the mythos of their time, especially high-born Greeks, those who to seem smart sang or recited Homer’s epics from memory. The stories themselves were quite common, leading one to believe that not having things hidden would lead to boredom and the wish for something new. That is what Homer…show more content…
Richardson’s arguments also tend to be cyclical in a way that while being academic, make this paper not one for the faint of heart. The repetitiveness and overall dryness of the article make it almost a pain to read and endeavor to understand. In the end as well, Richardson’s argument was successful, when one is talking about modern readers with little background in Classical Ancient Greek mythos. Richardson gives plenty of examples of Homer leaving things out or playing things in a way that give readers a sort of taste of how those in contact with Odysseus would have felt after learning of all the deceptions imposed upon them. Of course, this argument only works for modern readers with less knowledge of the classic mythos that Homer has based his writing upon. Those from long ago would have seen many of the things Richardson writes about coming, almost to a point that it would be like reading a Boxcar Children book, if only for the fact that having extended knowledge of the Ancient Greek myths lets the ancients understand how Homer is writing, and understand how the gods are working. Foreknowledge is actually a basis for Richardson’s arguments, with misdirection being his biggest point,

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