Two people have had a particularly large influence on this book. Gregory Nagy, with his insight into Greek epic tradition, inspired my efforts from the start, and Amy Sabatini, with her insight into comparative religions, gave focus to my efforts at an early and opportune moment; to both of these friends I am deeply grateful. I am likewise grateful to my former teachers, John Finley, Calvert Watkins, and Cedric Whitman, for their help along the way; because of them many an obstacle has proved to be not insurmountable. I owe a special debt to Deborah Boedeker, Linda Clader, Steven Lowenstam, Leonard Muellner, Richard Sacks, and Richard Shannon for the inspiration and support of their “Homeric companionship”; this book has benefited much from their thoughtful responses. Others as well have given welcome advice and encouragement; in particular, I would like to thank Ann Bergen, Charles Beye, Susan Edmunds, Barbara Folsom, Mary Lefkowitz, James Lesher, Patricia Marshall, Martha Nussbaum, Dan Petegorsky, Laura Slatkin, Edward Tripp, Emily Vermeule, and Thomas Walsh.
It remains to say that I alone am to blame that this is not a better book. Indeed time, while lending support to what I first set out to show, has also made me more keenly aware of shortcomings. Be these as they may, however, I still hold to the spirit in which the entire book was written, namely, that of a search. Whatever faithfully reflects that spirit, furthermore, I would like to dedicate to my father, who has followed my progress with interest, and to the memory of my mother who encouraged me to see the work through to completion. {vii|ix}