Repetition and Iconicity in Homer
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This dissertation investigates the iconic function of repetitions of words and other units of speech in the Iliad and Odyssey as a component of the structural stylistics and aesthetics of Homeric epic. While these works are famously repetitive on a number of scales, I focus on small-scale patterns of repetitions that have received comparatively little attention in modern scholarship and argue that such patterns frequently reflect or enact aspects of the content of the lines or passages in which they appear. Because certain types of patterns pervasively correlate with certain types of content, for example ring composition with language of roundness, the resemblance between form and content allows for an examination of content as an implicit source of information about the Homeric conception of poetic structure and composition. Chapter 1 lays the groundwork for the rest of the dissertation by discussing what constitutes a pattern and considering issues of intentionality and perceptibility in an oral-poetic context; Chapter 2 takes a nuanced look at the relationship between sound, structure, and sense by examining the role of paronomasia and other phono-semantic complexities in broader structures; the third and final chapter presents case studies that investigate thematic categories and their correlation with patterns of repetitions, showing how Homeric verse presents itself as a finely-crafted product of virtuosic artistic skill. The intersections of small-scale repetitive structures and content in Homeric epic ultimately reveal a narrative pervasively concerned with itself as a built medium for conveying its traditional content. By refining our understanding of the relationship between form and content, this work strengthens the basis of and broadens the horizon for claims about Homeric epic’s self-awareness and self-referentiality in the use of language.