Elena Limongelli

The concept of the self in antiquity has attracted intense scholarly attention, with cognitive studies breaching the disciplinary wall of Classics, leading to new and fascinating insights. Surprisingly, the Homeric epics have escaped the attention of researchers, mostly due to the complexity of the ideas and concepts regarding the conscious “I” that they present. My project aims to offer the first systematic examination of the self in Archaic Greek epic texts by looking at the altered states of mind experienced by the Homeric heroes, especially focusing on the tension between fragmented individuality as presented by Snell and the pervasive force of divine madness, which offers a first coherent picture of a unified self. The redefined Homeric conception of individual will then be compared to those that transpire in the literary traditions of the ancient Near East, where it is possible to observe the same fragmentation of the self, as well as analogous narratives of altered states of mind. This will further our understanding of the cultural affinities and differences between archaic Greece and the ancient Near East.