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Please help me build an outline for a presentation on the function of  boasting in...

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hnewberry | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) Salutatorian

Posted June 4, 2012 at 2:06 PM via web

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Please help me build an outline for a presentation on the function of  boasting in pre-Christian heroic narrative.

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thanatassa | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted June 6, 2012 at 4:41 PM (Answer #1)

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Boasting is an important part of oral traditional epic. In pre-Christian heroic narratives, such as the anonymous "Epic of Gilgamesh", Homer's "Iliad", and Homer's "Odyssey", boasting is an essential element in the formulaic pattern of scene construction. Normally, the hero will boast about the act he intends to do (stealing wood from sacred cedars, killing Trojans), then do the act, and then boast again about the gloriousness of the deed he has done. The pre-deed boasting serves as a form of verbal sparring, that leads up to the physical contest, and the concluding boast serves to fix the deed in memory of the listeners and cultural memory, bolstering the "kleios" or fame (and posterity) of the hero. The importance of fame to the role of the hero is emphasized in "Iliad" where Hector illustrates the importance of his prowess as a warrior to his posterity:

 "And someday one will say, one of the men to come
Steering his oar-swept ship across the wine-dark sea
'there's the mound of a man who died in the old days,
one of the brave whom glorious Hector killed.'
So they will say, someday, and my fame will never die." Homer, "Iliad" 7:101-105

As you build your outline, begin by summarizing the role of boasting in oral epos, and then analyze examples from two or three epics showing the pattern of anticipatory boast, deed, and more boasting.

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