Forms of Astonishment: Greek Myths of Metamorphosis by Richard Buxton

By Richard Buxton

Forms of Astonishment units out to interpret a few Greek myths in regards to the variations of people and gods. Such stories became standard of their Ovidian costume, as within the best-selling translation by way of Ted Hughes; Richard Buxton explores their Greek antecedents. One urgent query which frequently happens to the reader of those stories is: Did the Greeks take them heavily? Buxton again and again engages with this subject, and makes an attempt to reply to it context through context and writer through writer. His e-book increases concerns appropriate to an figuring out of vast facets of Greek tradition (e.g. how 'strange' have been Greek beliefs?'); in so doing, it additionally illuminates concerns explored by means of anthropologists and scholars of faith.

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For the self-transformation of Hermes himself, in the passage immediately preceding this episode, see 42 and 168 n. 25 below. 40 Narratives and their Contexts such elements are minimized in the Odyssey. Alfred Heubeck’s observations are representative: Traits from . . [folk-tale] are to be seen in Circe, but, as is characteristic of the epic treatment, the central elements of the folk-tale are restricted to a minimum. Pure magic is to be found only in the few lines which deal with the companions’ actual metamorphosis and transformation back into human form.

5 Such a reading rests on a common Homeric usage, found in the Odyssey and Iliad alike, according to which certain parts of the verb eidomai, and speciWcally its participles governing the dative case, are employed in contexts where corporeal resemblance is incontrovertibly involved. A straightforward instance is Athene’s taking of the appearance of the Taphians’ leader Mentes, eidomene¯ . . Mente¯i (Od. 319), she is treated by Telemachos simply as Mentes. An example involving the adopting by a god of animal rather than human form can be found in the Iliad, when the wind-god Boreas couples with the mares of Erichthonios ‘having likened himself to a dark-maned stallion’ (Il.

35 For other comparative material, see Brunel (1974). Introduction 15 Figure 5. Jimmy Midjaumidjau, Nadulmi in his Kangaroo Manifestation. Painting on bark, 1950. Nadulmi is an ancestral being who figures in Australian Aboriginal art. Out of his internal organs—laid bare in this ‘x-ray’ representation—Nadulmi created aspects of the landscape of western Arnhem Land. 37 A passage from the Daoist work the Lieh-tzu˘ shows how the principle works out in practice: Sheep’s liver changes into the goblin sheep underground.

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