A Son Is (Not) Responsible for His Father. Good and Bad Sons in the Homeric Epic

Grintser Nikolay P.

The author explores the motif of father-to-son opposition in the Homeric poems. Analyzing relevant contexts of the Iliad and Odyssey (especially those referring to Achilles and Telemachus) he shows that, on the one hand, the epic preserves the archaic idea of a young hero as a sort of his father’s new embodiment (the idea being partly refl ected in the young hero’s name), but, on the other hand, all the traditional motifs connected with father-to-son opposition are smoothed over in Homeric poems. Since this opposition is an inevitable consequence of the heroic action, a hero’s activity entails breaking his fi lial duty, and the character who proves to be a really dutiful son must become completely or temporarily passive.

Keywords: heroic epic, mythology, folklore, etymology, father, son, Iliad, Odyssey, Epic Cycle.
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