The Odyssey by Homer: Development of Oral Narrative Verse

Homer played a vital role in developing the Greek epic poetry. His famous Odyssey is a vivid representation of the culture of its period. Its style resembles several other examples of heroic poetry. In his work, the Homer applies the oral narration in the form of verse development, which was initially aimed at facilitating the commemorating of the text. A number of epithets and other stylistic devices are being applied to illustrate the heroic nature of the characters. Through the use of rhythm and rhyme the poet manages to engage the audience (listeners as well as readers) in the story, involving and awakening their imagination. That way, the oral narration verse has been developed as a pattern throughout the poem enabling the creation of thrill of action. Through narration, the poem goes deep into developing the plot by strengthening dramatic action. It also engages characters’ thoughts, emotions and words. “Teaching Oral Speech: The Case of Direct Speech in Oral Narratives” by Argiris Archakis and Sofia Lampropoulou (2006) provide a deep insight into the world of epic poetry. According to their research, the use of oral narration verse as a way of pattern development helps in engaging the listeners (initially) and readers (consequently) by creating vivid imagery in their minds as a way of theme enhancement. Therefore, Homer has applied this pattern in his work.

Evidence shows that most of the ancient cultures have used oral form of the now literary art. Instead of written forms of literature, they composed songs, poems, ballads etc in the form of verses presenting them in front of the public. The Odyssey by Homer is an epic poetry work, in which oral narration verse was used as a way of developing the themes, as well as the issues raised by the author (Hawley 14). Such pattern of development of the plot engaged reciting in ancient cultures and did not necessarily involve an alphabet or writing systems. In that case, such literature is seen as an oral verse. Most importantly, the devices that are an indispensable art of such forms of epic poetry include “rhyme, rhythmic stress and repetition” (Archakis and Sofia 42) tend to enable memory. It has also been stated that the authentic activity of oral narration through verse is “primarily to commemorate, and its original form is a performance and an enactment.” (Archakis and Sofia 43) In most cases, oral narration has been said to give the works of poetry great immediacy by development of events. In the poem, Homer uses the narration verse to recount on the character’s supernatural encounters as he heads home after the dreaded Trojan conflict. The poet also uses the pattern of development to explain the fight with suitors who were plaguing his wife all through his absence. In that case, oral narrative verse has been developed effectively to explain the series of events after Odysseus returns home.

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Looking at the context of The Odyssey, it was written almost at the termination of the 8th century BC. Moreover, it is Ionia, which is a Greek region, where the story evolves when Odyssey is returning to his destination after leaving Ithaca. It is after the great fall of Troy. That way, Odysseus takes ten years before completing his journey to his kingdom. Furthermore, his son Telemachus along with his mother, Penelope is facing the uncaring nature of the suitors. Their intention is to get Penelope married since they all believe that Odysseus has died in the Trojan War (Hawley 17). Throughout the development of the poem’s plot, oral narrative verse features are evident in discourse genres being used. One can see that there is a great concern about grammatical, communicative as well as clausal characteristics in the verse. It can also be deduced that “emphasis should not be put on the syntactic and grammatical analysis of the sentence, but on the construction of appropriate (oral and written) texts in relation to specific social circumstances and goals (Archakis and Sofia 47)”. These aspects are evident in the poem in the development of oral narrative verse through the use of repetition. Nevertheless, the texts are rather clear and brilliantly reveal the themes raised by the author.

In addition, several authors have presented great works to explain the development of oral narrative verse in literature, especially in the modern framework. Barton is one of the renowned scholars who have done research on literature. In his work of 2001, he offers directions for research in the field of oral literature by analyzing language and social activities in a mediated universe where oral narration is a vital element (Barton 45). Moreover, Furniss, in 2004, did deep research into orality by explaining the strength depicted through a spoken word (Furniss 23). In 1997, Georgakopoulou carried out research engaging narrative performances and mentioned that modern storytelling in Greece has taken another course. Moreover, most of the contemporary authors use the narrative oral verse in order to reveal the themes of their literary works. These are some of the greatest writers who have acknowledged the use of narrative verse as a pattern of development in literature and in this case, epic poetry (Georgakopoulou 34). The Odyssey is a perfect example of the narrative oral verse since it precisely engages the technique or pattern of development being highly effective in attracting audience’s imagination.

The Odyssey is a captivating poem that brings out several themes and is enabled by the nature of catchy pattern development. It is an oral narrative verse that reveals the sub-heroic aspect of the characters. Perseverance is one of the themes evident in the poem. Odysseus is depicted to persevere throughout his life. In the first instance, Odysseus is held captive on an abandoned island and always longs to go to his family (Homer 12). Moreover, Odysseus, along with other men, had to face the lotus-feeders. His desire to live and defeat the enemies is also a sign of perseverance, especially when he plans to murder the suitors in order to revenge for harassing his wife (Hawley 23). Another theme that is raised in the poem is hospitality. Several instances depict Odysseus and Telemachus as hospitable persons. One of such incidences is when Telemachus starts his travel in an attempt to discover his father’s whereabouts. In his journey, both Nestor and Menelaus demonstrate hospitality especially before realizing who he is (Homer 21). Another theme is loyalty, which is illustrated when Odysseus is out fighting and when on his journey back from the war. In addition, Penelope remains loyal to her husband showing her faithfulness to him by remaining unmarried for twenty years of his absence. Moreover, Telemachus demonstrates his loyalty to Odysseus by starting to seek information concerning his father. The development of these themes is enabled by effective use of oral narrative verse (Archakis and Sofia 44).

In conclusion, Homer engages a concise pattern of development that is commonly known as oral narrative verse in order to create vivid imagery and captivate the readers and listeners. In their primary work of 2006, both Argiris Archakis and Sofia Lampropoulou explain the aspects of oral narration stating that it is an effective pattern of developing a clear communication. Therefore, Homer engages oral narration in his epic poem in order to bring out the themes of his literary work and create an impression of continuity in the audience. It is evident that most works have taken the course of this technique of narration, verse, in order to attract their audiences. Most importantly, The Odyssey is one of the great works of poetry that has applied this form of development in explaining various themes such as perseverance, loyalty and hospitality among others. Loyalty seems to be the most prominent aspect in the poem developed through oral narrative verse.

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