This is an exciting and entirely new synthesis, combining anthropology, political and social history, and a close reading of central Greek texts, to account for two of the most significant hallmarks in Homeric epic and Athenian tragedy: the representation of ritual, and codes of reciprocity. Both genres are pervaded by these features, yet each treats them in entirely different ways. In this book, Seaford shows that these differences cannot be accounted for in merely literary terms, but require a historical explanation. Challenging, thoroughly lucid, and at times controversial, this lively and original work is the first to attempt to understand the development of early Greek literature from the perspective of state-formation. It should interest all those concerned with the literature and history of classical Greece.
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