The sons of Homer/ the sons of Rāma : understanding the rhapsode in comparative context
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What was a rhapsode? How can we, given the scant nature of the evidence that survives, hope to examine in any detail the rhapsode’s role or position in Greek society? This PhD utilizes a Comparative philological approach to posit a solution to a longstanding problem of Classical philology. Using, as its grounds for comparison, the parallels provided via the performers of the Mahābhārata and Rāmāyaṇa, my research aims to provide a better understanding of the role and status (both ‘self’ and ‘societal’) of the rhapsode in the Classical Greek world, by means of the backdrop offered by the performers of the Sanskrit epics. Through close examination of the similarities, which are many and striking, we shall be able to construct a far more detailed picture of the rhapsode than we could through scrutiny of the Greek material alone. But it is not only from similarities that insights can be gleaned – the culturally-specific differences too are important precisely because they illustrate the salience and specialness of what was taking place in Greece. Beginning with questions of societal function and identity, and what the rhapsode, like his Indian counterparts, believed and was believed to be doing, the thesis will then move on to issues of the rhapsode’s place and perception in the larger society in which he existed. This will allow for certain features about the rhapsode to be seen more clearly than ever before, and ultimately a more complete picture of the rhapsode to be presented.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
Embargo Date: Print and electronic copy restricted until 27th May 2019
Embargo Reason: Thesis restricted in accordance with University regulations