How could Achilles’ Fame have been Lost?

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Margalit Finkelberg


Although there can be little doubt that the Homeric epics originated in heroic lays whose main objective was to praise the military exploits of Greek chieftains. They are far removed from songs of military prowess which properly belong to a much earlier stage in epic tradition. To treat them on the same plane would do little justice to either form of heroic poetry. This is not to say, of course, that military exploits were of no interest to the poet. Yet heroic deeds, tragic fates and praiseworthy or repre­hensible acts were regarded by him as preserved in song not in their own right but by virtue of their being part of events that determined the course of history. Without fulfilling this condition, they would have been lost to posterity.

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