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Is the Odyssey a Text Corpus of Pre-Greek Oral Literature? Searching for Themes of Early Maritime Narrative

Harald Haarmann


The piece of epic narrative from Greek antiquity known as the Odyssey, named after its hero Odysseus, ranks in the canon of world literature. The stories told about the adventures of the hero were written down in the archaic era (eighth century BCE). Whether Homer is the creator of the Odyssey has been a matter of dispute, although his authorship of the other famous epic poem, the Iliad, has been affirmed. In this contribution, the pre-Greek layers of oral narrative are investigated; they make up the distinctive fabric of the Odyssey, and deviate significantly from the narrative canon of the Iliad.


Greek epic literature; cult of heroes; divine patronage of pre-Greek goddesses; seafaring in Old Europe and pre-Greek terminology of shipbuilding; ancient maritime narrative


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