Homer’s Thebes: Epic Rivalries and the Appropriation of Mythical Pasts

  Barker, Elton T. E., and Joel P. Christensen. 2019. Homer's Thebes: Epic Rivalries and the Appropriation of Mythical Pasts. Hellenic Studies Series 84. Washington, DC: Center for Hellenic Studies. http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:hul.ebook:CHS_BarkerE_ChristensenJ.Homers_Thebes.2019.


The ideas in this book were first launched in a waterlogged basement in Queens, New York City, in the spring of 2007, although our partnership had first emerged in the similarly watery surrounds of the Venice International University Seminar on Literature and Culture in the Ancient Mediterranean (2003–2004). There we enjoyed the rare resources of both time and money to hear lectures by and receive advice from Alessandro Barchiesi, Walter Burkert, Ettore Cingano, Irad Malkin, Piotr Michalowski, Dirk Obbink, David Sider, and Richard Thomas (among others). Our first publication together on Archilochus (Barker and Christensen 2006), produced as a direct result of that seminar, set out the beginnings of the methodological framework used in this book. Other articles have appeared over the years. The argument and much of the content of Chapter 1 made a first appearance as “On Not Remembering Tydeus: Agamemnon, Diomedes and the Contest for Thebes,” in Materiali e discussioni per l’analisi dei testi classici no. 66 (2011):9–44; Chapter 2 draws on our contribution (“Even Heracles Had to Die: Homeric ‘Heroism’, Mortality and the Epic Tradition,” pp. 249–277) to the special issue edited by Christos Tsagalis, “Theban Resonances in Homeric Epic,” Trends in Classics 6, no. 2 (2014); and an early foray into Thebes took the form of “Oedipus of Many Pains: Strategies of Contest in the Homeric Poems,” Leeds International Classical Studies 7, no. 2 (2008):1–30, which provides the basis for Chapter 3. The form and substance here differ substantially from their earlier incarnations, by virtue of engaging with the latest scholarship, being made to serve the argument of this book, and not least of all reflecting a welcome maturity in our thinking.
We have learned much taking our ideas on the road. For the insightful and thought-provoking comments that we have received along the way (and helped shaped this book), we thank our audiences at Columbia University, Texas Tech University, the University of Missouri, the Celtic Conference in Classics, the Academy of Athens, and the universities of St. Andrews, Lampeter, Oxford, and Cambridge. Many colleagues have provided advice and support over the course of this book’s long gestation period. In particular we would like to thank: Justin Arft, Ettore (Willy Boy) Cingano, Erwin Cook, Casey Dué, Mary Ebbott, Marco Fantuzzi, Tom Hawkins, Malcolm Heath, Adrian Kelly, Kyriaki Konstantinidou, Irini Kyriakou, David Larmour, Don Lavigne, Aleydis Van de Moortel, Sheila Murnaghan, Leonard Muellner, Chris Pelling, Benjamin Sammons, Matthew Santirocco, Giampiero Scafoglio, David Sider, Zoe Stamatopoulou, and Christos Tsagalis. We are extremely grateful also to Zachary Elliott and Taylor G. Mckinnon for their assistance with bibliography and editing. Taylor also helped to produce both indices. We have benefitted substantially from the institutional support and research assistance provided by Christ Church (Oxford), The Open University, New York University, the University of Texas at San Antonio, the University of Siena (Italy), the Center for Hellenic Studies, and Brandeis University. Finally, we owe a large debt to the CHS editorial team, especially Jill Curry Robbins and the rest of the production staff.
Finally, and most importantly, we are indebted to the patience, kindness, and love of our partners, Kyriaki and Shahnaaz, and to the inspiration and new life that we have gained from our children Maya, Aalia, and Iskander.