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A History of Ambiguity$
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Anthony Ossa-Richardson

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780691167954

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691167954.001.0001

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The Faultless Die

The Faultless Die

Chapter:
(p.239) Chapter Six. The Faultless Die
Source:
A History of Ambiguity
Author(s):

Anthony Ossa-Richardson

Publisher:
Princeton University Press
DOI:10.23943/princeton/9780691167954.003.0006

This chapter addresses how readers argue over multiple meanings in Homer, as well as Alexander Pope's translation of the Iliad. The conflict over the ambiguities of the Iliad was a small part of a broader reckoning of Homer, which itself was only the battle, not the war. The exchanges detailed here reveal less about the culture of Homeric scholarship than about the hermeneutic moves available to neoclassical critics with a shared canon of linguistic assumptions—a canon subtending the many differences between, say, the Ancients and Moderns. Ambiguity is here an artifice manipulated in a variety of ways to negotiate the text. Pope had his own, nuanced relationship to the ambiguities of the Iliad. It has long been argued that he misses the feel and tone of Homer's epic, and certain celebrity responses to this effect—from the dismissive to the thoughtful—have become canonical. However, one of Pope's merits is that he consistently brings out the poem's double meanings, often by giving both possible senses of a phrase or line in either parataxis or hypotaxis.

Keywords:   Homer, Alexander Pope, Iliad, ambiguities, Homeric scholarship, neoclassical critics, hermeneutics, double meanings, parataxis, hypotaxis

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