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James H. Dee
University of Illinois at Chicago (Chicago, IL 60612-4305)
The Epithetic Phrases in Homer: A Study of Descriptive Expression in the "Iliad" and the "Odyssey"

The aim of this project is to create the fourth and final volume of a series of works on the epithetic descriptive expressions in the Iliad and the Odyssey. In classical literature, "epithets" are adjectives or nouns used singly or in multi-word phrases to describe a character or an object; there are thousands of them in the two epics, occurring in extraordinarily varied and complicated systems. The projected book, to be based on a large corpus of these expressions which have already been gathered and published in the first of three volumes of the set, will organize and present, on an unprecedented scale, the panoply of multi-word phrases used to describe the gods, humans, things, and places in the poems, and it will explore the complex phenomena they present under at least a half-dozen rubrics: phrase-lengths, from two-word to multi-line; formulaic repetition vs. rare or unique phrases; "bound" (object-specific) vs. "unbound" epithets; narrative vs. speech settings; modern linguistic theories (e.g. functionalism, speech grammar, cognitive scripts); and dramatic and aesthetic effects. The project thus seeks to deepen our understanding of one of the most pervasive and important features of the Homeric epic tradition.

Project fields:
Classical Literature

Fellowships for College Teachers and Independent Scholars

Research Programs

$40,000 (approved)
$40,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
1/1/2004 – 12/31/2004