The expression “(on) this day” has an extremely pregnant meaning in different contexts of early Greek poetry. It is used in rituals and in solemn utterances, but it is much more than an emphatic way of saying “today.” It shows that the speaker is recognizing that a decisive, irreversible moment is approaching. Such knowledge of the appointed destiny is only accessible to the gods or to mortals inspired by them, which often makes the authoritative utterance “this day” a performative speech-act that brings immediate accomplishment. The study of the instances of this expression, both with ἦμαρ and ἡμέρα, in epic, religious poetry, and tragedy, also sheds light on the different Greek notions of what a decisive day was.
Emar Tode: Recognizing the Crucial Day in Early Greek Poetry
This paper originated in a presentation in the Center for Hellenic Studies in April 2010. I am grateful to Gregory Nagy and the Junior and Senior Fellows, specially Andromache Karanika, Richard Martin, Melissa Mueller, Ivana Petrovic, and Josh Reynolds, and also to Marco Antonio Santamaría, Renaud Gagné, and the anonymous readers and editors of Classical Antiquity, for their useful comments.
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Miguel Herrero De Jäuregui; Emar Tode: Recognizing the Crucial Day in Early Greek Poetry. Classical Antiquity 1 April 2013; 32 (1): 35–77. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/ca.2013.32.1.35
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