Lösung in der Schwebe durch Provokation: Metanarrative Überlegungen zum Aufschub und Ende der Erzählung in den Lytra (Ilias XXIV)

Bierl, Anton. (2019) Lösung in der Schwebe durch Provokation: Metanarrative Überlegungen zum Aufschub und Ende der Erzählung in den Lytra (Ilias XXIV). Maia : rivista quadrimestrale di letterature classiche, 71 (1). pp. 49-74.

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In a close-reading of Iliad xxiv from a metanarrative perspective this paper shows how Achilles as the internal instance of retardation notoriously delays the release of Hector's body ( lysis ). Therefore the brief and instantaneous moment, when Hector's lysis finally occurs, does not coincide with the lysis , the dénouement or closure of the plot. In accordance with the process of monumentalization Achilles, assimilated to the voice of the narrator, creates expansion through his particular speech-acts. His flyting, agonistic abuse and provocative teasing of Priam lead to tensions that impede a complete reconciliation and a prompt closure in harmony. Thus for a long period of time the release, i.e. the possible dénouement or "solution" ( lysis ) of the plot's intricacies, remains open and is almost about to fail. Even when the lysis of Hector's body is achieved - it is the will of the gods or a narrative necessity -, the end ( telos ) of the Iliad is again delayed. The actual ending consists in focusing on Priam's return to Troy and on the mimetic-performative representation of ritual lament about Hector to convey some sense of ritual closure. But even then, after the funeral executed during the cease-fire, the narration opens up again in a circular return to battle. An interpretation in purely humanistic terms, i.e. in the sense of a teleological development to humanistic values, has only a rudimentary foundation, but mirrors a secondary phenomenon of the later reception to be re-projected onto Iliad xxiv. Rather, in the extreme situation of mourning Priam and Achilles come to a human understanding only for a very brief moment. From an anthropological insight into human suffering the enemies come to a deeper mutual acknowledgement. However, the alleged humanity is based on an archaic idea of a pitiful and miserable existence. And even at this point they seem to admire each other already in view of their future status of heroes. Moreover, Achilles tends to play down and brush aside his responsibility by deflecting it onto a higher level. He must yield to the will of the gods, but he complies with it only reluctantly. Therefore after showing pity just in an instant Achilles continues applying his language of mockery and sarcastic provocation. Thus, instead of analyzing the scene on the basis of the psychology of naturalistic characters, it seems more productive to understand it in purely narrative terms. His function of retardation can only materialize through ambivalent traits of inconsistency, in a figure of fissures and discontinuities that come to the fore in a detailed communication analysis. Peace based in humanistic values or even pacifistic ideas are anachronistic concepts for the Iliad . Its narrative nature rather meets the requirement of a text that evolved to monumental size. In sum, the Iliad needs the problematic Achilles behaving as he does.
Faculties and Departments:04 Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > Departement Altertumswissenschaften > Fachbereich Gräzistik
UniBasel Contributors:Bierl, Anton F.H.
Item Type:Article, refereed
Article Subtype:Research Article
Note:Publication type according to Uni Basel Research Database: Journal article
Last Modified:22 Jan 2020 08:37
Deposited On:22 Jan 2020 08:37

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