Visuality in Bosniac and Homeric Epic
2. Relevant features in a Bosniac epic and comparable features in the Homeric poems
Oh! When that black one saw with his eyes … 
The ‘black one’ is Halil, who has been chasing after his sister’s abductors and just now realizes—after careful inspection of the grass for signs of passing horses—that they have made good their escape.
When considering the significance of these devices, it is essential to keep in mind the correlation between the visual perception of the characters and the mental vision of the audience. Every time characters are said to have seen, noticed, or spotted something or someone, listeners are invited to make the same object appear to their minds (and to their mind’s eyes). The narrative unfolds for the listener as a sequence of mental images that are largely coextensive with the characters’ visual experiences. Moreover, the links between these images, which is to say, the sequential steps that advance the plot, are often constructed precisely in terms of the act of seeing: in battle scenes, for instance, the narrative moves from killing to killing by describing how one hero observes another’s death, and so is motivated to seek vengeance.  In this way, the characters’ vision becomes the very force that drives the plot forward. We glimpse here already an initial indication of the interrelationship between propositional and pragmatic visuality. Insofar as it animates the listeners’ mental experience of the story—advances the frames, so to speak, of their mental film-strips—the propositional visuality of the characters’ experiences takes on a pragmatic dimension.
đe s ovaku curu nabavila
nabavila sa sela devojku
where did you find such a girl?
Where did you find this maiden from the country?’
Scenes such as these produce delight because they invite listeners to share in a vision that they know to be false, and simultaneously establish the superiority of the audience’s state of knowledge over that of the participants in the action. The Odyssey, of course, exploits this technique to the full, repeatedly presenting Odysseus to the gaze of unrecognizing spectators. Strategic usages of deictic or anaphoric markers heighten the effect by emphasizing the sameness of the referent ‘Odysseus’ even as he is visualized or recalled as a different individual by internal and external spectators. 
a za njime Arnaut Osmane
and behind him was Osman the Albanian. 
Since both characters act within the same temporal and spatial setting, the shift from one to the other is relatively smooth—more like a pan of the camera than a cut. Homeric poetry employs similar means to accomplish the same task, as when the narrator of the Odyssey employs the particle αὐτάρ to accomplish the visual switch from Demodokos to Odysseus:
Δημόδοκος, λαοῖσι τετιμένος. αὐτὰρ Ὀδυσσεὺς
πολλὰ πρὸς ἠέλιον κεφαλὴν τρέπε παμφανόωντα,
δῦναι ἐπειγόμενος· δὴ γὰρ μενέαινε νέεσθαι.
Demodokos, honored by the people. But Odysseus
often turned his head toward the radiant sun,
anxious for it to set, for he was very eager to set out for home.
Here the camera shifts from Demodokos to Odysseus, and then continues to follow his gaze toward the setting sun.
a na njega ruha ni beljaja
sve mu brza zrnad raznijela
ej krvava va sablja do balćaka
a krvava ruka do ramena
And on him there was not a scrap of clothing,
swift bullets had torn it all away.
Hey, his sword was bloody to the hilt,
and his arm was bloody to the shoulder.
Homeric poetry offers many comparable examples, as, for instance, in the famous scene of Agamemnon’s arming in Book 11 of the Iliad. In this case as well, a broad descriptive statement (“he himself donned the gleaming bronze,” 11.16) gives way to a sequence of details about the individual pieces of Agamemnon’s equipment:
Ἀργείους· ἐν δ’ αὐτὸς ἐδύσετο νώροπα χαλκόν.
κνημῖδας μὲν πρῶτα περὶ κνήμῃσιν ἔθηκε
καλὰς ἀργυρέοισιν ἐπισφυρίοις ἀραρυίας·
δεύτερον αὖ θώρηκα περὶ στήθεσσιν ἔδυνε …
. . .
ἀμφὶ δ’ ἄρ’ ὤμοισιν βάλετο ξίφος· …
. . .
κρατὶ δ’ ἐπ’ ἀμφίφαλον κυνέην θέτο τετραφάληρον
ἵππουριν· δεινὸν δὲ λόφος καθύπερθεν ἔνευεν.
εἵλετο δ’ ἄλκιμα δοῦρε δύω κεκορυθμένα χαλκῷ
to arm themselves, and he himself donned the gleaming bronze.
First he put on his legs beautiful greaves,
fitted with silver ankle-pieces.
Then he put a corselet around his chest …
. . .
And over his shoulders he hung his sword …
. . .
And on his head he set a helmet with bosses on both sides, four buckles,
and a horse-hair crest; and the crest swayed terrifyingly above it.
And he gripped two stout spears tipped with bronze
Each successive shift to a new detail in this description is linguistically marked by means of a particle (μέν, αὖ, ἄρα, δέ, δέ).
dok ugljeda ćudo sa oćima
kad evo ti Arnautovića
when he caught sight of a wonder—
here you are, the Albanian’s son.
The performer may also bridge the gap between the visual experience of characters and that of the audience by means of another strategy, which involves embedded visualizations—descriptions of the content of a character’s vision. These embedded visualizations fuse the characters’ attempts to perceive a remarkable event with those of the audience. In fact this device invites the listeners not only to share but also to re-live the perceptual and emotional experiences of the characters. The following excerpt, in which Mujo uses his spyglass to survey the landscape and look for signs of the danger that he fears threatens his city of Kladuša, provides an excellent example of this technique:
a gljedaše ka ešći Kladuše
pa gljedaše sobom govoraše
Bože mijo na svemu ti fala
svuđe vedro jeste havajima
nigđe maglje nema ravninama
sem Kladušu tama ufatila
dalj je magla al’ je pala tama
dal to puši kula serdareva
and he looked toward ancient Kladuša,
and while he looked he said to himself,
“Dear God, thanks be to you in all things,
everywhere the skies are clear,
nowhere is there fog upon the plains—
a dark cloud has enveloped Kladuša alone.
Is it fog or a dark cloud that has come down,
or is it the serdar ’s tower smoking?”
The redundant repetition of the verb gl(j)edati ‘to look’ in lines 139–141 lays considerable stress on Mujo’s anxious attempts to obtain clear visual information about what is happening. His efforts to see become a kind of figure or mise-en-abyme for the audience’s own drive to visualize events in anticipation of a major turning-point in the action. What Mujo struggles to make out turns out to be exactly what he most fears: Kladuša is on fire; it has been sacked by the Christian warrior Miloš. A certain dilation of narrative time intensifies the audience’s visual experience: the literal zooming-in on the mysterious cloud (through Mujo’s eyes) is emphasized by the retardation of the narrative pace.
3. Visual and narrative landmarks in “Halil and Miloš”
kakav beše zakljali ga vuci
ćetiri mu noge putaljaste
a cijela glava baljatasta
e zinuo ka da pobesnijo
iz noždara maven plamen bije
pripaljuje travu detelinu
nagna konja preskoći avljiju
uh kad dušman pade u avljiju
doćeka’ ga puškom od obraza
što je fajda helj ga pogodijo
ne hoće ga gvožđe ni olovo
sve od njega zrnad odlećuju
udaraju kulji u duvaru
gotovo mi oči isteraše
ja potego sablju ađemkinju
na troje se sablja prelomila
tako Ajka pa ga doćekala
što je fajda helj ga doćekala
ne hoće ga gvožđe ni olovo
pruži ruku dofati Hajkunu
pa je baci za se na alata
What was [the horse] like, may wolves devour him?
His four legs had white markings
but his head was entirely black,
and he bared his teeth as though he were mad.
From his nostrils a blue flame darts;
it sets the clover grass aflame.
He spurred the horse, lept over the courtyard wall.
Oh! When the enemy descended into the courtyard,
I met him with my rifle at my shoulder.
What use, even if I struck him?
Neither iron nor lead has any purchase on him.
Every bullet flies off him,
strikes the wall of the tower.
They nearly struck out my own eyes.
I drew my Persian sword;
my sword broke into three pieces.
Ajka faced him in the same way.
What use, even if she faced him?
Neither iron nor lead has any purchase on him.
He stretched out his arm, he seized Hajkuna
and he set her behind him on the chestnut horse.
In a manner similar to the cinematographic “design for terror” discerned by Alain Renoir (1962) in Beowulf, the scene cuts from a vision of the villain on his terrifying horse to a sequence of shots of Osman and Hajkuna as they attempt to defend themselves. The singer’s effort to invest this visually intense sequence with an emotional as well as narrative significance is likewise evident in the use of a rhetorical question coupled with an expressive curse (“What was the horse like, may wolves devour him?”).
aj da vidiš ćuda sa očima
e đe stiže Miloš ćesedžija
. . .
uh kad Mujo vide sa očima
a kad vide na kapiju glavu
aman što ga nemir ufatijo
pa bežaše redom odajama
a smije se Mujović Haljile
baka baka pa dobra junaka
kako bi joj živoj udarijo
kad se boji posećene glave
a smije se Haljil po odaji
e kad vide Mujo sa oći(ma)
ah, see a wonder with your eyes,
hey, how Miloš the Highwayman approaches.
. . .
Oh! When Mujo saw with his eyes,
and when he saw the head at the gate,
aman! What distress took hold of him.
And he ran in flight through room after room.
But Mujo’s Halil laughed:
“Just look, what a noble hero!
How would he have met him if he were still alive,
when he’s afraid of his severed head!”
But Halil laughed in the chamber,
hey, when Mujo saw with his eyes.
A number of narrative turning-points in Fjuljanin’s song are, in fact, accomplished by means of recognition scenes, a fact that attests to the satisfaction and pleasure produced by these moments of recalibration, when the visual experience of a character or characters is synchronized with the point of view of the audience. 
4. Back to Homer
ἐς δ’ ἐνόησ’ Ἀχιλῆα πελώριον· αὐτὰρ ὑπ’ αὐτοῦ
Τρῶες ἄφαρ κλονέοντο πεφυζότες …
and noticed huge Achilles: before him
the Trojans, put to flight, rushed wildly.
παμφαίνονθ’ ὥς τ’ ἀστέρ’ ἐπεσσύμενον πεδίοιο,
ὅς ῥά τ’ ὀπώρης εἶσιν, ἀρίζηλοι δέ οἱ αὐγαὶ
φαίνονται πολλοῖσι μετ’ ἀστράσι νυκτὸς ἀμολγῷ …
. . .
ὣς τοῦ χαλκὸς ἔλαμπε περὶ στήθεσσι θέοντος.
shining as he sped over the plain like the star
that rises in late summer, and its bright rays
are conspicuous among the many stars in the dark of night …
. . .
Just so did the bronze about his chest flash as he ran.
In the first of these passages, the king singles out Achilles from the wall: Achilles occupies the visual center of attention, the Trojans the periphery. More strikingly, in the second passage, from the beginning of Book 22, Priam’s vision of Achilles is likened to the vision of the evening rising of Sirius, the Dog-Star. 
φῶτα κατακτείνας ἄλλων ἐξίκετο δῆμον
ἀνδρὸς ἐς ἀφνειοῦ, θάμβος δ’ ἔχει εἰσορόωντας,
ὣς Ἀχιλεὺς θάμβησεν ἰδὼν Πρίαμον θεοειδέα·
θάμβησαν δὲ καὶ ἄλλοι, ἐς ἀλλήλους δὲ ἴδοντο.
having killed another in his own land, comes to a foreign country,
to the house of a rich man, and wonder grips those who behold him:
so Achilles wondered as he gazed at godlike Priam;
the others wondered, too, and they looked at each other.
This moment of intense propositional visualization concludes one of the poem’s highest emotional peaks, as well as the principal narrative arc.
ἕστασαν, ἐν δ’ ἄρα τῇσι θυώδεα εἵματ’ ἔκειτο.
ἔνθεν ὀρεξαμένη ἀπὸ πασσάλου αἴνυτο τόξον
αὐτῷ γωρυτῷ, ὅς οἱ περίκειτο φαεινός.
the chests in which fragrant clothing was kept.
Then, stretching out her hand, she lifted from its peg the bow
along with the gleaming case that enclosed it.
Fjuljanin ‘presents’ a similar moment—the retrieval and disabling of Miloš’s rifle by Anđelija, another of Halil’s helpers—with an even more explicit token of immediacy:
evo brešku vinom natoćila
here [you are], she filled the rifle with wine
The deictic marker evo ‘here’ is a compressed version of a ‘presentation formula’, a device that enables Bosniac epic singers to summon events linguistically before their audience.  Elsewhere in the song a similar effect is achieved by means of the deictic marker sad(e) ‘now’. 
χρύσεον ἄμφωτον, καὶ δὴ μετὰ χερσὶν ἐνώμα …
. . .
τὸν δ’ Ὀδυσεὺς κατὰ λαιμὸν ἐπισχόμενος βάλεν ἰῷ …
golden, with two handles, and now he was holding it in his hands …
. . .
But Odysseus, aiming for the throat, shot him with an arrow …
This detail is not irrelevant: it provides a note of intense pathos in anticipation of the upcoming act of violence, and so contributes directly to the emotional immediacy of the event. Even more striking is the expressive potential of the grammatically-acknowledged ambiguity in the frame of reference of the deictic markers αὐτοῦ, αὖθι, αὐτόθι, etc. Words of this class can have both proximal (‘here’, ‘now’) and distal (‘there’, ‘then’) reference. We posit a deliberate exploitation of this ambiguity in cases in which the ‘there and then’ potentially merges with the ‘here and now’ of the performance, as in the following passage:
ἐκ δ’ ἦλθον μεγάροιο παρὲκ μέγα τειχίον αὐλῆς,
αὐτοῦ δὲ προπάροιθε θυράων ἑδριόωντο.
and they went out from the hall beyond the great wall of the courtyard,
and there/here, before the gate, they sat in council.
In his translation of this passage, Richmond Lattimore renders the αὐτοῦ of the last line as “there.”  His rendering reflects a very common (perhaps ‘default’) tendency to distance narrated events from the hic et nunc of their telling. We suggest that the Greek is actually more elusive, and therefore more open to an immediacy-oriented reading. 
The address to the listener that is implicit in the deictic marker evo ‘here’ becomes explicit when the formula is expanded to include the second-person pronoun ti (word for word, kad evo ti translates as ‘when here for you’). Fjuljanin also makes use of the functionally parallel formula a da vidiš (roughly, “you should have seen”), in which the second-person verb again makes explicit reference to the listener. These devices represent a widespread technique in Fjuljanin’s tradition for foregrounding new visual steps in the narrative. Audience address is in fact a prominent feature of very many performance traditions, so that its complete absence from the Homeric poems is justly cause for surprise. Although Homeric narrative has a variety of techniques for singling out characters and details, and otherwise directing the audience’s mental vision, the poems do not make use of this most obvious and perhaps easiest way to achieve that goal.
The metanarrative comment in this case engages not only the audience’s attention, but also, more particularly, their mind’s eye, by introducing a visual description (of the horse’s haggard appearance). The Homeric epics, by contrast, do not include comments like these. The question is, why? We might speculate that some explicit reference to the performer-audience relationship—some form of “back-channeling”—was in fact verbalized at a certain stage in the development of Homeric poetry, but that such references were screened out of the text in the process of textualization, as the written text gradually became more and more independent of a particular performance.  At the same time, it must be stressed that previously undetected aspects of the Homeric strategies for conveying vividness continue to be discovered, and that scholars’ understanding of Homeric visuality will necessarily continue to evolve—perhaps so as to encompass precisely those features that appear on the surface to be absent. This paper is offered as a contribution to this evolving understanding.