Flesh and Spirit in the Songs of Homer: A Study of Words and Myths by Michael Clarke

Flesh and Spirit in the Songs of Homer: A Study of Words and Myths

byMichael Clarke

Hardcover | April 15, 2000

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In the epics of Homer people experience emotions, carry out thought, express themselves, suffer death, and survive in a shadowy afterlife. When Homer describes these processes he reveals his sense of human identity; his conception of the self and its relation to the visible body. Despitemany generations of study a fully satisfactory account of that conception has never been offered, partly because analyses of word-meanings, world-picture, and literary tradition have proceeded along separate paths. This book offers a newly integrated interpretation of Homeric man. The author starts with the working hypothesis that, in this poetry, the human being is not divided into two parts - inner and outer; body and soul; flesh and spirit - but stands as an indivisible unity. Thought and emotion areprecisely the same as the movement of breath, blood, and fluids in the breast; the thinking self and the visible flesh are inextricably united, with no sense of man having either a mind or a body as a constituent part of himself; and at death the journey to the Underworld is fundamentally the sameas the descent of the corpse into the soil. The last part of this analysis leads to a reassessment of the Homeric psuche, an entity which leaves the mouth at death and whose name is often misleadingly translated as soul. This study of the psuche leads to a new view of life in the Underworld, withwider implications for the study of the interrelation between myth, poetic narrative, and the meanings of early Greek words.

About The Author

Michael Clarke is a Lecturer at the Department of Ancient Classics, National University of Ireland, Maynooth.
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Title:Flesh and Spirit in the Songs of Homer: A Study of Words and MythsFormat:HardcoverPublished:April 15, 2000Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0198152639

ISBN - 13:9780198152637

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Editorial Reviews

`A closely argued but very readable study of Homeric life and death, based on a doctoral dissertation. Clarke's central thesis is that a distinction between soul and body (misleadingly characterized as "modern") is foreign to epic poetry.'S. Douglas Olson, Religious Studies Review, Vol 27, No 2, April 2001