The path of song : semantic strategies in Iliad VIII
The Path of Song: Semantic Strategies in Iliad VIII is a continuous commentary to Book VIII of the Iliad, applying to this section of the poem a new aesthetic methodology developed primarily by the comparative scholar J. M. Foley. Termed 'traditional referentiality1, this methodology holds that oral traditional poetics is founded upon the duality of 'denotative' and 'connotative' levels of meaning, in which the semantic potential of any given element in the narrative, of any sort, is a result of the audience's experience with that element in previous performances. Thus, the associative qualities of traditional narrative allow the poet during the realisation of the song to manipulate audience expectations as they listen to stories whose general outlines (i.e. who kills who, who must not die at a certain moment in the story, etc.) they know from a lifetime of experience. To recapture this complex of meaning is to recreate the ancient experience of Homeric poetry, giving a modern audience access to the excitement and uncertainty of a narrative designed for a progressive unfolding at the moment of performance. After a brief introduction, in which a key term within Homeric poetics (οϊμη 'song path') is briefly discussed before we outline the history of the methodology and its place within modern scholarship, the commentary successively summarises and describes the key elements in small sections of the narrative, and then presents for each of these sections the comparative evidence establishing the conclusions reached. A conclusion is followed by two appendices on some of the more contentious speech introduction formulae.