Odysseus’ Scar. AUTHOR: Erich Auerbach. SOURCE: Mimesis: The Representation of Reality in Western. Literature. PUBLISHER: Princeton University Press. The Homeric Style, “Odysseus’ Scar” Erich Auerbach, Mimesis. Note, for example, that Homer can never let us be in doubt about anything involving Odysseus. By far the most frequently reprinted chapter is chapter one, “Odysseus’ Scar,” in which Auerbach compares the.

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For the great and sublime events in the Homeric poems take place far more exclusively and unmistakably among the members of a ruling class; and these are far more untouched in their heroic elevation than are the Old Testament figures, who can fall much lower in dignity consider, for example, Adam, Noah, David, Job ; and finally, domestic realism, the representation of daily life, remains in Homer in the peaceful realm of the idyllic, whereas, from the very first, in the Old Testament stories, the sublime, tragic, and problematic take shape precisely in the domestic and commonplace: The text says nothing on the subject.

Another argument is that Auerbach failed to take into account that The Odyssey is a written record of an oral work, and therefore what it represents is not the story of Odysseus, but rather a telling of the story of Odysseus. Retrieved from ” https: The parallels have often been noted; for Auerbach, it is the contrast that matters.

Not known for its organization, Mimesis is almost universally respected for its penetrating insights on the particular works it addresses but is frequently criticized for what is sometimes regarded as its lack of a single overarching claim.

Indeed, to begin to understand his thought it helps to keep in mind that he regarded his specialist discipline of Romance philology as a form of historical inquiry. The elliptical Old Testament stories, on the other hand, open up interpretive spaces that admit figurative readings. And that is still a comparatively simple case.

This page was last auerbacn on 12 April auerbch, at Wrich the more profound historicity and the more profound social activity of the Old Testament text, there is connected yet another important distinction from Homer: Contents 1 Biography 2 Mimesis: Delight in physical existence is everything to them, and their highest aim is to make that delight perceptible to us.

Time, History, and Literature | Erich Auerbach | Essays |

Achilles ‘ actions are always characterized by his courage and his pride, while Odysseus exemplifies versatility and foresightedness. The broadly narrated, charming, and subtly fashioned story of the hunt, with all its elegance and self-sufficiency, its wealth of idyllic pictures, seeks scra win the reader over wholly to itself as long as he is hearing it, to make him forget what had just taken place during the foot-washing.


While the former can be various and arbitrary, multi-layered in its characterization of people and events, the latter is the epitome of detailed, organized, and logical storytelling. The story of Abraham and Isaac is not better established than the story of Odysseus, Penelope, and Euryclea; both are legendary.

Since so much in the story is dark and incomplete, and since the reader knows that God is a hidden God, his effort to interpret it constantly finds something new to feed upon. He thus belonged to that generation of Europeans who were destined to face the horrors of World War I in which he fought, earning an Iron Crossand to that generation of German Jews whose adult lives were blighted by the rise of Nazism.

His understanding of what might constitute realism is supple and thoroughly historicised: Sign me up for the newsletter!

If certain elements survived which did not immediately fit in, interpretation took care of them; and so the reader is at every moment aware of the universal religio-historical perspective which gives the individual stories their general meaning and purpose. Homer ‘s Odyssey 8th century BC.

The Old Testament, on the other hand, presents universal history: April Learn how and when to remove this template message. Humiliation and elevation go far deeper and far higher than in Homer, and they belong basically together. Chaucer and Wordsworth are not mentioned even in passing. He was born in Berlin inthe same year as Walter Benjamin. How entangled and stratified are such human relations as those between David and Absalom, between David and Joab!

Odysseus’ scar (Auerbach) – Wikipedia

Unsurprisingly, much of the criticism of this essay has come from classicists, many erixh them finding Auerbach’s reading of The Odyssey overly simplistic. It makes our embeddedness in a historically conditioned reality the essence of whatever it might mean to be human.

Hegel uses the expression in his Lectures on Aesthetics in one of the most beautiful passages ever written on Dante.

The two women express their feelings in copious direct discourse. But in any case the goal was given, and in any case it is a matter of some sacred spot which was to receive a particular consecration by being connected with Abraham’s sacrifice. Looking at it from another point of view, the Odyssey is a story very limited in the scope because of the limitations imposed by rhetoric on the ways to represent reality, whereas the Bible’s “tyrannical” claim on all truth from Creation to the Last Daysresults, ironically, auerbsch an authentic representation of human experience.


Auerbach notes here the clarity and orderliness of Homer’s verse, as well as the tidy comparative, causal, and temporal relationships articulated by Homer’s precise syntactical constructions, all hallmarks of the rhetorical tradition.

His ideas, which have deep intellectual roots in the German Romantic tradition, strive to be expansive and inclusive. Thus the journey is like a silent progress through the indeterminate and the contingent, a holding of the breath, a process which has no odyeseus, which is inserted, like a blank duration, between what has passed and what lies ahead, and which yet is measured: Three such days positively demand the symbolic interpretation which they later received.

Erich Auerbach

Yet he maintains that a philology of world literature is possible in principle. On the other hand, characters of the Bible like Jacob and Job are irrevocably changed by the trials they undergo.

Eumaeus too, though he still remembers that he was born a freeman and indeed of a noble house he was stolen as a boyhas, not only erih fact but also in his own feeling, no longer a life of his own, he is entirely involved in the life of his masters. Much that is terrible takes place in the Homeric poems, but it seldom takes place wordlessly: The uncharacteristically fusty approach does, however, allow him to nail down one of his essential concepts.

As I zuerbach repeatedly emphasised, both figures are part of the ongoing flow of historical life. Moreover the two speakers are not on the same level: By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. Of Mimesis, Auerbach wrote that his “purpose is always to write history.

Odysseus’ scar (Auerbach)

On the one hand, externalized, uniformly illuminated phenomena, at sccar definite ericu and in a definite place, connected together without lacunae in a perpetual foreground; thoughts and feeling completely expressed; events taking place in leisurely fashion and with very little of suspense.

The Odyssey’s heroes seem to change very little both inwardly and outwardly, even under duress. Woe to the man who did not believe it! Auerbach’s legacy is largely built on the influence of his master work.

This article abides by terms of the Creative Odyseus CC-by-sa 3. Unlike Homer’s style, in which everything is clarified, the Elohist leaves unsaid any detail that does not pertain to the story’s purpose.