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The Many-Minded ManThe "Odyssey," Psychology, and the Therapy of Epic$
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Joel P. Christensen

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781501752346

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501752346.001.0001

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Escaping (the) Story’s Bounds

(p.275) Conclusion
The Many-Minded Man

Joel P. Christensen

Cornell University Press

This concluding chapter revisits some of the arguments made in the book and surveys ancient allegorical traditions to emphasize that the way the book reads the Odyssey — as a story to be mined for myth and philological detail — is by no means the authoritative way to engage with the poem. The epic itself acknowledges that its own interpretability is challenging — it offers multiple readings and then toys with them. In the ancient world, such a challenging narrative would possibly be treated with allegory. As ancient authors defined it, allegory is a poetic device where words signify something other than what they literally say. As many scholars have noted, Homeric poetry is conscious of symbolic meaning and includes allegory within it. The chapter then considers Teiresias' prophecy of the oar mistaken as a winnowing fan as both a symbol for death and an allegory for learning to live outside of paradigmatic narratives.

Keywords:   allegorical traditions, Odyssey, epic, poem, allegory, Homeric poetry, symbolic meaning

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