Classical Quarterly 69 (2):887-895 (2019)

Abstract
‘Everyone who now reads and writes in the West, of whatever racial background, sex or ideological camp, is still a son or daughter of Homer.’ While the extent to which this claim is accurate has been disputed, it is not wrong in our own day to grant the highest honours for ongoing influence to the author of theIliad. All the more so in Late Antiquity, a period frequently viewed as hermetically isolated from the classical world, but which resolutely viewed itself as part of that unbroken cultural and literary continuum. One of those who made repeated use of Homer's epic was the Emperor Julian, one of the most prolific writers among Rome's emperors. In the fourth centurya.d., Homer's influence was still predominant, not only being Julian's favourite and most frequently cited author but also forming for Libanius of Antioch ‘one of the pillars of rhetorical teaching’. Despite Glen Bowersock's statement that Julian's many writings offer unique insight into his character and disposition, Julian is still a historical character who is not easy to ‘know’. Julian's life was shaped by the murder of his father, brothers and uncles by a cabal involving, if not orchestrated by, his cousin Constantius II. This was followed by the removal of his trusted confidant Salutius, again by Constantius. These experiences exhibit an unusual phenomenon, in that, when Julian referred to them, they were prefaced by a spate of Homeric allusions. Julian's wrath at people taken from him was both genuine and politically useful, but the expression of it was dangerous enough that he expressed it obliquely in the language of Homer. These citations and allusions, drawn primarily from theIliad, were far more than Julian's flaunting of his education, but were rather a tool for subtly conveying his desired message, a message with strong political tones. I will treat these passages in the order in which Julian wrote them, although that places the events reminisced about in the reverse order.
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DOI 10.1017/s0009838819000934
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The Invention of Homer.M. L. West - 1999 - Classical Quarterly 49 (02):364-.

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