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The Succession Issue in the Odyssey

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  07 September 2009

Extract

It is a commonly held view that the basic issue in the Ithakan sequences of the Odysseyis the succession to Odysseus’ position as king. Thus J. V. Luce, for example, sees ‘the outline of a power struggle with kingship as the prize for the most powerful noble’. And M. I. Finley declares: ‘“The king is dead! The struggle for the throne is open!” That is how the entire Ithacan theme of the Odyssey can be summed up’. I should like to argue that this highly political perspective is unwarranted, that in fact there is no throne, no office of king, indeed no real Ithakan state, and therefore no succession struggle.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © The Classical Association 1986

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References

1. Luce, J. V., Homer and the Homeric Age (N.Y., 1975), p. 74Google Scholar.

2. Finley, M. I., The World of Odysseus (N.Y., 1965), p. 86Google Scholar.

3. Finley, , op. cit., p. 87Google Scholar; cf. H. W. Clarke, who takes for granted that ‘the kingship is to be awarded to whoever marries Penelope—hence the dynastic ambitions of the Suitors and their menace to Odysseus and Penelope’: Telemachos and the Telemacheia’, AJPh 84 (1963), 129Google Scholar.

4. Geddes, A. G., ‘Who's Who in “Homeric” Society?CQ 34 (1984), 31CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

5. Cf. Gnschnitzer, F., ‘BAΣIEYΣ Ein Terminologischer Beitrag zur Frühgeschichte des Königtums bei Griechen’, Innsbrucker Beiträge zur Kulturwissenschaft 11 (1965), 99112Google Scholar; and the just criticism of Drews, Robert, Basileus: The Evidence for Kingship in Geometric Greece (New Haven, 1983)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

6. Nilsson, M. P., Homer and Mycenae (London, 1933), p. 225Google Scholar.

7. Lacey, W. K., ‘Homeric 'Eδνα and Penelope's Kυριος’, JHS 86 (1966), 63CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

8. Rose, P. W., ‘Class Ambivalence in the Odyssey’, Historia 24 (1975), 129149Google Scholar, developing an earlier suggestion by Whitman, Cedric H., Homer and the Heroic Tradition (Cambridge, Mass., 1958), pp. 306–8CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

9. Op. cit. (n. 5).

10. Andreev, Juri V., ‘Könige und Königsherrschaft in den Epen Homers’, Klio 61 (1979), 361–84CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

11. Similar views may also be found in Deger, Sigrid, Heerschaftsformen bei Homer (Wien, 1970), p. 56Google Scholar; Murray, Oswyn, Early Greece (Sussex, 1980), pp. 4041Google Scholar; Runciman, W. G., ‘Origins of States: the Case of Archaic Greece’, Comparative Studies in Society and History 24 (1982)CrossRefGoogle Scholar; A. G. Geddes, op. cit.; and Halverson, J., ‘Social Order in the Odyssey’, Hermes 113 (1985), 129–45Google Scholar.

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