Individual vs. Collective Expressions of Grief in the Homeric Poems
In the Homeric poems, expressions of grief and mourning abound. This is a key theme in the Iliad, and the poem culminates with the big funeral scenes of the last three books. Homeric poetry has long been linked to the emergence of the Greek polis, and it offers us an insight into accepted patterns of displaying grief and mourning practices in the public sphere. The funeral games and the different forms that these choral laments adopt, particularly the thrênos, are collective expressions of ritualised mourning that acquire a paradigmatic role comparable to that they enjoy in the iconographic record (e.g. on Geometric pottery). In contrast, some individual responses to grief in the poems are presented as anomalous, for example, Achilles’ which is explained in terms of his heroic temper and Penelope’s because of her uncertainty over Odysseus’ fate. These examples allow the poet to portray extreme personal responses to grief, made manifest in severe physical symptoms. Their individual specificity functions as a foil to the paradigmatic representation of the collective management of grief through ritualised competition and communal choral practices.
Copyright (c) 2019 Jesús Carruesco
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
Authors who publish with THERSITES agree to the following terms:
- Publishing in THERSITES is free of any charges.
- Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication.
- Users are allowed to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of the articles, or use them for any other lawful purpose, without asking prior permission from the publisher or the author, so long as the original work is properly cited and is not used for commercial purposes. The journal is published under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. More information about this license is available at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/.
- Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work (See The Effect of Open Access).