Homer after Parry: Tradition, Reception, and the Timeless text

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter considers Milman Parry's contribution to Homeric scholarship and uses this to investigate shifts in conceptions of epic and its place in the Western literary tradition in the 20th century. It points to unresolved tensions in approaches to Homer in the 20th century, with scholars and other receivers of Homer equivocating between the idea that Homeric epic belonged to the world of traditional, oral-derived poetry, and the view that Homer is the starting point of a linear history of Western literature. It suggests that notions of tradition and reception need to be investigated in relation to one another. Recent scholarship on oral traditions now accommodates many phenomena that Parry associated exclusively with the great authors of the Western literary canon, such as Apollonius and Virgil, so the relationship between oral traditions and the canon needs to be revised. Meanwhile creative receptions of Homer have found ways of embracing the traditional Homer and the canonical Homer at the same time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationHomer in the Twentieth Century
Subtitle of host publicationBetween World Literature and the Western Canon
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780191711602
ISBN (Print)9780199298266
StatePublished - Jan 1 2010
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Arts and Humanities


  • Albert Lord
  • Classical tradition
  • Homer
  • Literary epic
  • Milman parry
  • Oral epic
  • Orality
  • Reception


Dive into the research topics of 'Homer after Parry: Tradition, Reception, and the Timeless text'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this