The Epic Rhapsode and His Craft: Homeric Performance in a Diachronic Perspective

  González, José M. 2013. The Epic Rhapsode and His Craft: Homeric Performance in a Diachronic Perspective. Hellenic Studies Series 47. Washington, DC: Center for Hellenic Studies.


Parentibus carissimis
José Miguel et María Agustina

Like Homeric poetry, this book has benefited from the hands of many masters. It is a pleasure to acknowledge here the debts I have incurred while writing it. I am grateful to the departments of Classical Studies at Harvard University, the University of Oregon, and Duke University, and to the Center for Hellenic Studies in Washington D.C., where various stages of this project were conceived and executed. They are all most supportive and congenial research environments.

I thank Albert Henrichs, Carolyn Higbie, and Nino Luraghi for their input at an early stage, when the core of my argument took shape as a doctoral dissertation at Harvard. Their intellectual generosity, wise guidance, sharp eyes, and superb scholarship saved me from many errors. They should not, of course, be held responsible for the final product. My gratitude also to Craig Melchert, historical linguist extraordinaire, who generously advised me on Lycian and Carian. Most of all, a special thank you to Gregory Nagy, whose fertile mind, imaginative scholarship, inexhaustible energy, and sheer pleasure in classical scholarship have been and remain a constant source of inspiration. His support, good sense, and encouragement have been crucial in helping me reach the end of this, at times, very long road. I could not have hoped for a better friend.

Others have contributed in ways less tangible but just as meaningful. I thank my brother Luis and my sister Carmen, who were always near when help was needed. To Daniel, Gabriel, and Sara, thank you for your cheerful patience and understanding on the many occasions when Papá could not play with you because he had to get back to “the book.” I hope that some day you too will read it with profit and will conclude that it was worth the effort. I love you all. My gratitude to Lauren, the love of my life, for her unfailing joy and optimism and for making our house a home during these busy times. Above all, for their lifelong devotion, commitment, and sacrificial love, I thank my parents, José Miguel and María Agustina, who never tired of repeating “le mieux est l’ennemi du bien.” They must have wondered if this book would ever see the light of day. I owe them a debt of love that can never be repaid. To them I dedicate this work.


“For the Lord is good;
His lovingkindness is everlasting,
And His faithfulness to all generations.”

Psalm 100:5

          Ῥητέον, ἦν δ’ ἐγώ· καίτοι φιλία γέ τίς με καὶ αἰδὼς ἐκ
παιδὸς ἔχουσα περὶ Ὁμήρου ἀποκωλύει λέγειν. ἔοικε μὲν γὰρ
τῶν καλῶν ἁπάντων τούτων τῶν τραγικῶν πρῶτος διδάσκα-
λός τε καὶ ἡγεμὼν γενέσθαι. ἀλλ’ οὐ γὰρ πρό γε τῆς ἀληθείας
τιμητέος ἀνήρ, ἀλλ’, ὃ λέγω, ῥητέον.

Plato Republic X, 595b9–c4