Homer and the Resources of Memory
Some Applications of Cognitive Theory to the "Iliad" and the "Odyssey"
By (author) Elizabeth Minchin
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Homer and the Resources of Memory by Elizabeth Minchin
Book DescriptionHow could a poet who worked in an oral tradition maintain the momentum of his song? How could a poet such as Homer weave a tale which filled an evening or, perhaps, a whole long night? The answer lies in memory, as we have known. But this bald explanation does not do justice either to the complexity of memory or to the richness of the Homeric epics. Now that so much more information has become available to us, from cognitive psychology and linguistics, about the workings of the mind, we can identify with greater precision those contributions which memory makes to the composition and performance of oral traditional song. In this study the author shows that the demands made on the poet, who relies neither on rote memory nor on written notes, have led him adopt to certain memory-based strategies which have left their traces in the text. What we discover is that the poet in an oral tradition makes intense and creative use of those resources of memory, which are available to us all - episodic memory, auditory memory, visual memory, and spatial memory - to assist him both in the preparation of his song and at the moment of performance.
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Book DetailsISBN: 9780198152576
(224mm x 147mm x 20mm)
Imprint: Oxford University Press
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publish Date: 15-Feb-2001
Country of Publication: United Kingdom
Books By Author Elizabeth Minchin
Homeric Voices, Hardback (February 2007)» View all books by Elizabeth Minchin
Drawing on the disciplines of sociolinguistics, discourse analysis, and cognitive psychology, Elizabeth Minchin studies the speeches that Homer attributes to his characters. She describes how the poet may have used his memory for everyday talk to construct such speeches, and examines how they reflect the speaker's age, status, and gender.
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