From Publishers Weekly
Late in this look at Homer's two great epic poems and the context out of which they grew, Dalby presents his audacious thesis: Homer, he would have us believe, was a woman. Some hedging accompanies the assertion, but it figures as the centerpiece of this study. While Dalby, a historian and linguist, excels in his discussion of the transformation from oral to written poetry and of the single-author theory for the Iliad
and the Odyssey
, his case for Homer's sex is discursive and full of speculation. The strongest chapter, "The Iliad
and History," is a thrilling account of the evidence in support of an actual Trojan War, much of it built on Joachim Latacz's Troy and Homer.
Most fascinating of all is Dalby's elegant elucidation of the Iliad
's "Catalogue of Ships" passage, whose formulaic language contains time signatures of both Bronze Age Greece (the period when Troy was sacked) and of the time when the Iliad
was first written down 500 years later. Despite Dalby's efforts, Homer remains as elusive as ever. But the gap between the plot of the Iliad
and historical reality is growing ever narrower. This book, which contains a helpful bibliographical essay, serves as a useful introduction to the detective work these poems have inspired. 3 maps. (July)
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About the Author
is an historian and linguist with a longstanding interest in oral literature. He has written about food, wine, and pleasure in the ancient world. He lives in France.