What literary patterns emerge in Odyssseus' tales in Book IX?

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thanatassa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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Book iX of Homer's Odyssey shows many patterns typical of oral-formulaic composition and epic narrative. One characteristic is the many storis are told as reported speech, that is that rather than have "Homer" as narrator of the poem, tell us the story as oit happens, we have a character tell of of an episode in his past, framed by an situation in the epic's present.

The major pattern we see here is the "tricolon crescendo", a rhetorical device that can act on level of line, scene, or story in the form of three elements with each successive one more important than the previous. Thus in this book of the Odyssey, we see Odysseus recounting having overcome three successive perils, each more dangerous than the previous, and the Cyclops not only being the greatest peril overcome by the cleverest strategem, but also the cause of the even greater anger of Poseidon, a situation that frames many of the other plot elements.


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