In this paper I consider ways in which seawater––both on its surface and in its depths––opens up alternative forms of thought and expression in Homer, especially with respect to the body. By tracking the relationship between body and simile as it is mediated by the surface of the sea, I argue that water emerges as an especially mobile and adaptive medium for expressing the transformation that takes place between self and simile in Homer. In the Iliad, similes are well-known for bringing weather, waves, and other aspects of the natural environment into the poem, whereas in the Odyssey those aspects more often introduce similes of their own. I offer a reading of the shipwreck scene in Odyssey 5 to suggest that the body’s struggle to stay afloat is matched there, on a formal level, by the role of waves in drawing simile and body to the sea’s surface. I then address a different kind of figurative language (closer to metaphor and associated with grief) that takes place in the depths, through readings of scenes in Books 18 and 24 of the Iliad and Archilochus fragment 13.

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