Homeric masculinity: Hnopeh and AΓhnopih

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This article investigates concepts of masculinity in the Homeric poems by focusing on two words: and. We argue that whereas is a positive quality best understood as 'manliness', denotes 'excessive manliness' in a pejorative sense. By comparing the use of these two terms we claim that it is possible to explore what constitutes proper, as opposed to excessive, masculinity in the Homeric poems. Our analysis of and suggests that some current views of Homeric masculinity need to be reconsidered. Whereas much recent scholarship has emphasized the individualism of 'the Homeric hero', we suggest that individualistic behaviour on the part of men is presented as a serious problem in the Homeric poems. As well as the use of the terms and, the frequent injunctions to 'be men' found in the poems confirm that solidarity with other men is an important aspect of Homeric masculinity. Our analysis also shows that the language of masculinity is employed very differently in the Iliad and the Odyssey. In the Iliad, excessive manliness is typically displayed by an individual who fails to show solidarity with other men on the battlefield. In the Odyssey, the suitors are standardly designated as 'excessively manly' for coveting another man's wife. In both poems, normative definitions of masculinity seek to regulate proper relationships among men.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)60-76
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Hellenic Studies
StatePublished - 2003
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Classics
  • Archaeology
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts
  • Archaeology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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