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.

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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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`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