The Power of Thetis and Selected Essays

  Slatkin, Laura. 2011. The Power of Thetis and Selected Essays. Hellenic Studies Series 16. Washington, DC: Center for Hellenic Studies.

To C.A.S.and to the memory of R.L.S. and C.E.S.


When The Power of Thetis was first published, I noted that for a short book, it boasted a long list of people to thank. Although that study, recast in the pages that follow, has not gotten longer, over the intervening years the list of friends and colleagues who have contributed to my thinking on its subject—and other topics in Homeric poetics that developed alongside it—has expanded exponentially; only a catalogue poem could do it justice. I am fortunate to have the opportunity to reiterate my thanks here, however inadequately, to those early interlocutors, whose comradeship and scholarly work continue to inspire and encourage my efforts, along with those of so many other Homerists. In this regard, it is a privilege to thank first and foremost Leonard Muellner and Gregory Nagy, without whom this volume would not have been imagined, much less completed; as a student of archaic notions of metron, I can confidently say that their intellectual and personal generosity, deservedly legendary, are beyond measure. To their colleagues at the Center for Hellenic Studies, who patiently and scrupulously shepherded this collection through to its final form, and particularly to Jill Curry Robbins, I offer my sincere thanks as well.

I owe renewed gratitude in addition to Margaret Carroll, and to Jeannie Carlier, Carolyn Dewald, Lillian Doherty, Helene Foley, Douglas Frame, Andrée Hayum, Richard Holway, Richard Janko, Seth Schein, Robert Tannenbaum, and Froma Zeitlin, each of whom has offered salutary advice and criticism over the years. I can only hope that they still find something of merit in these pages to justify all the help they provided.

Similarly, I think with continuing appreciation of the kindly provocations of the late Norman O. Brown, the encouragement of the late Helen Bacon, and the irreplaceable, wise counsel of the late John H. Finley, Jr. My admiration for the wide-ranging work of the late Nicole Loraux, who enlarged the horizons of my thinking on the Iliad, will, I hope, be suggested by the last chapter in this volume.

In discussions that followed the appearance of the original study, I benefited from the thoughtful responses of Andrew Becker, David Bouvier, Jenny Strauss Clay, Andrew Ford, and Renate Schlesier. That the interpretive and methodological questions raised by a consideration of the Iliad’s Thetis were deepened and fruitfully transformed in the important work of Jonathan Burgess, Casey Dué, Mary Ebbott, Margalit Finkelberg, John Miles Foley, J. Marks, Kenneth Mayer, Sheila Murnaghan, and Corinne Pache, has been an especially rewarding outcome of that initial investigation.

For stimulating perspectives that advanced my inquiries into the areas touched on in the essays included here, I am happy to thank Danielle Allen, Lorraine Daston, Marcel Detienne, Chris Faraone, Rachel Friedman, Marilyn A. Katz, Jinyo Kim, Leslie Kurke, Françoise Létoublon, James Redfield, and Mark Usher. I am grateful as well for the incisive suggestions of Caroline Alexander, Carin Calabrese, Antoine Compagnon, Olga Davidson, Rachel Eisendrath, Peter Euben, Denis Feeney, Alan Fishbone, Mary-Kay Gamel, Simon Goldhill, François Hartog, Brad Inwood, Sharon James, Bruce King, David Konstan, Eleanor Leach, John Lynch, Laura McClure, Gary Miles, Ramona Naddaff, Michael Nagler, Piero Pucci, Dale Sinos, Greg Thalmann, Fernando Vidal, and Marc Witkin.

Heartfelt thanks to Ann Bergren and Nancy Felson for their wisdom over many years and for the pleasure of our work together, and to Richard Sacks, who has been my steadfast companion in the exploration of early Greek poetry; their acute scrutiny greatly improved the contents of this book. And I owe deep gratitude, as always, to those penetrating readers, Sara Bershtel, Liz Irwin, and Amy Johnson, and to Pat Easterling for her incomparable, illuminating guidance; their friendship has been a lasting treasure. My reading of Hesiod owes more than I can say to Gloria Ferrari’s insights and conversation; in keeping with her taking the ritual measure of the cosmos, her star has been a beacon through many seasons, for me and for others venturing into the terrain of archaic Greece.

A volume that includes reflections on early representations of reciprocity and exchange is a fitting place to record what I owe to Maureen McLane, whose collaborative spirit—and practice—set a new standard for xenia. Her judicious, galvanizing critical engagement with the material in this book has clarified and enriched my thinking about both archaic and contemporary poetics and pointed the way to future projects that bridge the two; I look forward to renewing this debt.

It remains to thank Carole Slatkin: her solidarity and unstinting support have been an indispensable, lifelong gift, as well as a precious remembrance of the heartening confidence of our late parents.