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Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Framing (an ancient example)

A bit of historical revisionism from Sherman Alexie's "Ten Little Indians:"
... Maybe Odysseus wasn't all that heroic ... He was a drug addict and thief who abused the disabled. That giant might have been tall and strong ... but he still had only one eye. It's easy to elude a monster with poor depth perception.

Odysseus cheated on his wife, and disguised himself as a potential lover so he could spy on her, and eventually slaughtered all of her suitars before he identified himself. ... Self-serving and vain, he sacrificed six of his men so he could survive a monster attack. In the very end, when all of his enemies had massed to kill him, Odysseus was saved by the intervention of a god who had a romantic crush on him.

If one thought about it... the epic poem was foremost a powerful piece of military propaganda. Homer had transformed a lying colonial asshole into one of the most admired literary figures in human history.

So ... what lessons could we learn from Homer? To be considered epic, one needed only to employ an epic biographer.

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