Articles with keyword: allegory

Homer Answers his Critics.
David Konstan Department of Classics
New York University


Volume 3, Issue 1

 | pp.



Heraclitus begins his allegorical interpretation of Homer with the admonishment: “If he meant nothing allegorically, he was impious through and through, and sacrilegious fables, loaded with blasphemous folly, run riot through both epics.” Modern criticism roundly rejects Heraclitus’ defense of Homer’s integrity, preferring to treat his poems as straightforward narratives of the actions of gods and mortals. But there is ample evidence of Homer’s sophisticated use of divinities as symbols rather than agents, and reason to suppose that Homeric epic emerged in dialogue with attacks on the anthropomorphic representation of gods, like that of Xenophanes. I propose to raise the question of Homer’s method through discussion of a few representative passages, beginning with Athena’s intervention to prevent Achilles from slaying Agamemnon in Book I of the Iliad and concluding with the battle among the gods in Books XX-XXI. Particular reference will be made to Paul Radin, Primitive Man as Philosopher.
Subjects:Ancient Greek Literature