The Raft of Odysseus: The Ethnographic Imagination of Homer's Odyssey

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The Raft of Odysseus looks at the fascinating intersection of traditional myth with an enthnographically-viewed Homeric world. Carol Dougherty argues that the resourcefulness of Odysseus as an adventurer on perilous seas served as an example to Homer's society which also had to adjust in inventive ways to turbulent conditions. The fantastic adventures of Odysseus act as a prism for the experiences of Homer's own listeners-traders, seafarers, storytellers, soldiers-and give us a glimpse into their own world of hopes and fears, 500 years after the Iliadic events were supposed to have happened. In the course of her argument, Dougherty makes liberal use of what we know about Mycenean and archaic artifacts, comparing the realities of historical shipbuilding or weaving, for example, with the often magnificently inflated account of the epics.