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Picture of Incorporeal Heroes

Incorporeal Heroes

The Origins of Homeric Images

Author(s): Leo S. Klejn

Book Description

The author investigates the origins of the heroes of the Iliad, to establish if they were real historical figures or purely artistic creations. His conclusion is that neither of these ideas is correct: the prototypes of the heroes existed previously in Greek cults. They originated as local cult heroes, protectors of certain spheres of life, in the manner of later Christian saints – and had nothing to do with the Trojan War.

Via an analysis of the standard formulas within the Iliad, the author investigates the sequence in which these heroes entered the epic. He argues that the main plot of the Trojan cycle originated from the ancient story of the abduction of the beautiful wife of a king followed by the raid of the king, and his brother, aiming to recapture her. Just such a plot can be found in an Egyptian tale even older than the Iliad. Agamemnon was a later inclusion – becoming a Mycenaean king, though earlier he had been a Spartan hero, like his brother Menelaus. Achilles joined the story later yet.


ISBN-13: 978-1-4438-4188-7
ISBN-10: 1-4438-4188-9
Date of Publication: 01/12/2012
Pages / Size: 175 / A5
Price: £39.99


Leo S. Klejn is a Professor of Archaeology who has worked at St Petersburg University since 1960. A pupil of the well-known philologist Vladimir Propp, Klejn’s theoretical works in archaeology are known to Western readers, but – although he has an original position on the Homeric question – his books on classical philology (Homeric studies) have not been translated until now. This is the first of his works of this kind to be translated into English.