CHS-AUTH 2017-2018 Fellows | Niki Oikonomaki

Ἀχαιοί, Ἀργεῖοι, Δαναοί: Revisiting the system of denomination of the Greeks in the Homeric epics

My research project Ἀχαιοί, Ἀργεῖοι, Δαναοί: Revisiting the system of denomination of the Greeks in the Homeric epics investigates the obscure topic of the ethnonyms of the Greeks and their function in relation to the poetics of the Iliad and the Odyssey. The assumption that these ethnic names are used as undifferentiated terms throughout the Iliad and the Odyssey and the oversimplified explanation of these similar terms as alternative possibilities due to the metrical restrictions of the hexameter need to be put to the test. Thus, in my research project I examine to what extent the use of these terms is contextually determined and conditioned by the epic tradition and I discuss the role of these terms both in the main narrative and in the speeches of heroes as a part of their specific idiolect. To this end, I explore the contextualization of collective identity that seems to be presented differently on the basis of the circumstances of the utterance, based on statistics concerning occurrence and distribution of the three collective ethnic names. A preliminary study on this topic consists of an article published in First Drafts@Classics, based on the research which I conducted during my AUTH-CHS Fellowship in Hellenic Studies. The thriving scientific environment and all the support provided both by the AUTH and the CHS helped me to finish the first stage of my research, i.e. the statistics concerning occurrence and distribution of the three names, the systematic and detailed recording of all three names in the Iliad and the Odyssey using different parameters and various textual indicators to this categorization, including context, formulas, metaphoric language, metrical restrictions, and the role of the divine, of male or female characters, and of main or secondary figures.

(from left to right) Temple Wright, CHS Librarian for Acquisitions, Reference, and Visitor Relations, Niki Oikonomaki, Vassilis Liotsakis, Maria Chriti, CHS-AUTH 2017-18 Fellows, Lanah Koelle, CHS Fellowships Program Manager and Librarian

My recent postdoctoral appointment both in Thessaloniki and Washington, DC and the valuable interaction and productive discussions with experts on the field of the Homeric epics and colleagues from different academic fields allowed me to discuss my ideas and deepen my research. It was great that I had the chance to work on a part of my project at the CHS in Washington, DC. The ideal academic atmosphere, the helpful staff, and the library resources offered me an unparalleled opportunity to conduct my research in a stimulating environment.

Niki Oikonomaki

Niki Oikonomaki received her PhD in Classics from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (2011). She holds a position as a Laboratory Teaching Staff at the Department of Classics, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Workshop for Epigraphy and Papyrology. Her dissertation is a study of the early Greek alphabets, the introduction of the ‘Phoenician’ alphabet to the Greek world, and the local alphabets of the Archaic and Classical Cretan poleis. She is the co-author (with Professor Yannis Tzifopoulos) of a guide-book on Greek Epigraphy with an on-line component with useful links, photos, videos and tables. She has published articles on literacy and the materiality of inscriptions and she is a contributor to Wiley Blackwell Encyclopedia of Ancient History. She is currently preparing the publication of the inscriptions from Methone and Pydna in Macedonia, and from Prinias and Azorias in Crete. Lastly, she is working on her monograph entitled The Name Game: Achaioi, Argeioi, and Danaoi in the Homeric epics revisiting the function of the terms Achaioi, Argeioi, and Danaoi within the epic plot.