The Role Of Rhapsodes In Homer's 'The Odyssey'

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In Ancient Greece, the role of rhapsodes was the delivery of epic poems - long, narrative poems concerning heroic deeds and events significant to a culture or nation - to the population in oral tradition. The rhapsode’s recitation went beyond storytelling. Principally, they were performers whose delivery and accuracy were key components of their profession. One aid in the accuracy of a performance was the format of the poetry itself. Homer’s epic work, The Odyssey, is written in dactylic hexameter - a metrical pattern in which a line is broken into six feet (Struck). Using this format, rhapsodes often used epithets - words or phrases attributed to a person or thing to describe an actual or attributed quality - as convenient devices in meeting the metric pattern. Simultaneously, the syllabic format of epithets in dactylic hexameter - one long syllable followed by two short syllables - allowed rhapsodes to easily improvise when exact recollection failed (Struck). When used in repetition, epithets emphasized especially relevant qualities in characters or things. Epithets were an integral part of the Odyssey in relation to the oral…show more content…
This imagery also creates a tangible picture in the minds of the audience: the land inhabited by the Cyclopes is untouched by mankind and, since its inhabitants do not plow the land or build houses, left to nature’s will. Additionally, this poses the question of what the Cyclops’ diet consists of. Besides herding sheep, lambs, and goats for milk and cheese, Odysseus eventually learns rather gruesomely that Polyphemus has a taste for human flesh. When he and his party are discovered, he begs the Cyclops’ hospitality, but after denying the safety of the men Polyphemus poses a
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