This article considers how the composition and performance of the Odyssey result in two types of middles, one “structural” and one “liminal.” Three episodes in the Nekuia—the Anticlea ring structure, the Catalogue of Heroines, and the intermezzo—yield resonant midpoints that are integrated into the thematic structure of the epic, demonstrating how the poet composes and arranges epic narrative from a “liminal” position within performance that is conditioned by a multiform tradition. Arete and especially Theoklymenos are reconsidered in light of these compositional and performative middles and are revealed as potent, integral signs across the long arc of the epic.
This essay explores the death of Odysseus in the Telegony and the Odyssey through the diction of agnoēsis (nonrecognition) and anagnōrisis (recognition). Agnoēsis is a motif in the stories of both Telegonus and the death of Odysseus, allowing the Odyssey’s presentation of agnoēsis to reference the Telegony tradition. Moreover, the deadly consequences of agnoēsis are inimical to the Odyssey’s vision of Odysseus’s kleos, and Odysseus’s death in the Telegony results in an alternative vision of his immortality. Examination of these contrasts between traditions sheds light on how the Odyssey negotiated dissonant elements from the Telegony tradition to enhance its own meaning.