Steadfast in a Multiform Tradition: émpedos and asphalḗs in Homer and Beyond

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dc.contributor.advisor Muellner, Leonard Filos, Claudia 2013-02-01T16:44:22Z 2013-02-01T16:44:22Z 2013
dc.description.abstract This Homeric word study of émpedos and asphalḗs offers the first comprehensive investigation of steadfastness in the ancient Greek mytho-poetic system. Prompted by the idea expressed in the name Empedokles, this work attempts to describe the potential relationship between steadfastness and kléos, ‘poetic fame’. Using formulaic and contextual analysis to consider every occurrence of émpedos in Homer and drawing generously upon supplemental evidence from other authors and traditions, this work seeks to rebuild the social, mythical, and poetic concepts of steadfastness from an internal perspective. We find that the use of émpedos and asphalḗs reflects traditional Indo-European concepts of stability that are highly appropriate to a system based on multiformity and composition-in-performance. Evidence also shows that these words are appropriate to metapoetic and metapragmatic discussions of stability. Thus, the name Empedokles offers a highly relevant perspective on the nature of poetic glory, and concepts of steadfastness become crucial to our understanding of this multiform tradition. The foundation of this study is an understanding of the metaphors associated with these terms and close readings of the contexts in which they occur. This analysis leads to refined definitions. Specifically, this work argues that émpedos and asphalḗs denote a steady, continual, and even ritually appropriate state, and that these terms are equally appropriate to describe subjects that are steadfastly fixed in place or steadfastly kinetic. Further, émpedos and asphalḗs are explicitly associated with subjects that switch from one steadfast state to another. These findings develop through analysis focused on several topics: the idea of perishable fame, the stability of Zeus' divine authority vs. the instability of human prosperity, the steadfastness of scepter bearers, the value of steadfast strength and intelligence, descriptions of charioteering and homecoming, and the pairing of steadfastness in epic couples such as Odysseus and Penelope. Uniting the esthetics of rigidity and fluidity with the careful balance of incitement and restraint, the study of émpedos and asphalḗs reveals a single aesthetic principle stabilizing the Homeric cosmos, from the progression of individual lines of poetry, to the fixed path and endless motion of the stars and moon above.
dc.description.sponsorship Brandeis University, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
dc.format.mimetype application/pdf
dc.language English
dc.language.iso eng
dc.publisher Brandeis University
dc.relation.ispartofseries Brandeis University Theses and Dissertations
dc.rights Copyright by Claudia Filos 2013
dc.subject émpedos
dc.subject asphalḗs
dc.subject steadfastness in literature
dc.subject epic poetry
dc.subject Homer
dc.subject Iliad
dc.subject Odyssey
dc.subject Herodotus
dc.subject ancient Greek
dc.title Steadfast in a Multiform Tradition: émpedos and asphalḗs in Homer and Beyond
dc.type Thesis
dc.contributor.department Graduate Program in Ancient Greek and Roman Studies MA Masters Ancient Greek and Roman Studies Brandeis University, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

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