This article examines the development of the theme of eris in Hesiod and Homer. Starting from the relationship between the destructive strife in the Theogony (225) and the two versions invoked in the Works and Days (11–12), I argue that considering the two forms of strife as echoing zero and positive sum games helps us to identify the cultural and compositional force of eris as cooperative competition. After establishing eris as a compositional theme from the perspective of oral poetics, I then argue that it develops from the perspective of cosmic history, that is, from the creation of the universe in Hesiod’s Theogony through the Homeric epics and into its double definition in the Works and Days. To explore and emphasize how this complementarity is itself a manifestation of eris, I survey its deployment in our major extant epic poems.
This article approaches the relationship between the Odyssey’s nostos and other Nostoi from the perspective of the epic’s treatment of Cassandra. In doing so, I emphasize two perspectives. First, rather than privileging either “lost” poems or our extant epic as primary in a “vertical” relationship, I assume a horizontal dynamic wherein the reconstructed poems and the Odyssey influenced each other. Second, I assume that, since little can be said with certainty about lost poems, references to other traditions attest primarily to the compositional methods and the poetics of our extant poem. After outlining the major narrative features of the story of Cassandra that were likely available to Homeric audiences, I argue that the suppression of her story in the Odyssey is both part of the epic’s strategy to celebrate Odysseus and Penelope and a feature of the enforcement of a male-dominated ideology.