Much of the criticism of Homer's Iliad is focused on the events of the story: the significance of the images, symbols, the role of the Greek Gods, the characters of the story. It seems that many of the critics have forgotten the very important role of Homer as the narrator of the events. His narration undermines the story. He is the medium through which the story is told. Perhaps the ambiguity of not knowing exactly who Homer is, and the fact that it was an oral story long before it was written in the form it is today, is the cause of oversight of the narrative qualities of Homer's Iliad by many critics.
The narration of the story has, however, been noted as a classic example of in medias res. "The term is derived from Horace, literally meaning `in the midst of things'. It is applied to the literary technique of opening a story in the middle of the action and then applying information about the beginning of the action through flashbacks and other devices for exposition" (Holman 247). This term only partially describes the narrative of The Iliad, and seldom do critics attempt to understand the reason behind the use of in medias res. A thorough description of the initial narrative act and the ideologies that determined the narrative act can be beneficial in interpreting the story. With the help of modern schools of criticism, it may be easier to describe his narrative act. There are many schools to choose from, as the recent number of them have increased dramatically in the last several decades (Miller 67). I will borrow some narrative concepts from the Formalists, who are more concerned with the structure of the text rather than the meanings of text. Then I will draw conclusions about the ideologies, "..The ways in whic...
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...a god that knows the fates of all.
Booth, Wayne C. The Rhetoric of Fiction. University of Chicago Press, Chicago. 1983.
Eagleton, Terry. "Literature and the Rise of English" Literature in the Modern World. Dennis Walder, ed. Oxford University Press, N.Y., 1990. 21-27.
Fagles, Robert. "The Iliad". The Norton Anthology of World Masterpieces. Maynard Mack, general editor--6th ed. W.W. Norton and Company, N.Y. 1992. 98-208.
Genette, Gerard. "Order in Narrative". Literature in the Modern World. Dennis Walder, ed. Oxford University Press, N.Y. 1990. 142-151.
Holman, C. Hugh and William Harmon. A Handbook to Literature. MacMillan Publishing Company, N.Y. 1992.
Miller, J. Hillis. "Narrative". Critical Terms for Literary Study. Lentricchia, Frank and Thomas McLaughlin, eds. University of Chicago Press, Chicago. 1990. 66-79.