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Recovered Beginnings: Rhetoric's Disaffiliation from Homer

Hobeika, Marie-Odile N. (2016) Recovered Beginnings: Rhetoric's Disaffiliation from Homer. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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This dissertation presents a history of rhetoric in relation to Homer’s poetry, as well as the beginning of a theoretical account of the rhetorical life of poiesis. Rather than recount the Socratic counter-claims on Sophistical teachings, this dissertation recovers classical theories of rhetoric as they demonstrate techniques of extrication from Homeric epos, the source of poetic institutions of classical Greek life.
If Homer is understood, not as a poet, but as an uninterrupted afterlife in the imaginations of rhetors, then the material of this dissertation is a grammar of attitudes that rhetors had about what they imagined to be ‘Homer’. In the first chapter I attribute the continuity of Homer’s afterlife (nachleben) to traditional and democratic forums of education, where Homer’s poetry was seminal. In the second chapter, I enter into Plato’s exile of Homer in Republic as a disaffiliation from father Homer mirroring rhetoric’s extrication from the decay of patrilineal culture. In the third, I argue that Aristotle’s imaginary associations of Homer as stranger (xenos) indicate that the philosopher never settled a difference of kind between rhetoric and poetry in the Rhetoric. Though he loved epic dignity, he also feared the strangeness of Homeric style, paradoxically teaching young rhetors to disambiguate epical arrangements in speech. In the fourth chapter on Longinus’ Sublime, I read his emulation of Homer as a para-religious move that sought to resurrect faith in the republic of letters at a time when eloquence had evidently reached its dearth. In the fifth and final chapter, I argue that the Homeric afterlife in rhetoric continues on today, as contemporary scholars carry the conceit that rhetoric was a more advanced technological form than poetry.
Treating developmentalist conceits as symptoms of change rather than inherent truisms has two implications. First, it shifts the object of study of re-covered beginnings away from formal arts, either epic poetry, or rhetoric individually; to the modes of extraction affecting the treatment of those arts as autonomous. Second, it contributes to contemporary scholarship a sequence of modes (disaffiliation, disambiguation, and emulation) in the light of which other cultural formations may be considered going forward.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Hobeika, Marie-Odile N.od.hobeika@gmail.comMNH16
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairPoulakos, Johnpoulakos@pitt.eduPOULAKOS
Committee MemberLyne, Johnjlyne@pitt.eduJLYNE
Committee MemberMitchell, Gordongordonm@pitt.eduGORDONM
Committee MemberMifsdud, Mari
Date: 29 September 2016
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 2 May 2016
Approval Date: 29 September 2016
Submission Date: 28 July 2016
Access Restriction: 5 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 5 years.
Number of Pages: 187
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Communication: Rhetoric and Communication
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Homer, poetry, rhetoric, disaffiliation, disambiguation, zeal
Date Deposited: 30 Sep 2016 01:56
Last Modified: 29 Sep 2021 05:15


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