Ekphrasis In The Iliad

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It is during the ancient times that the first instance of ekphrasis has been recorded. The most famous and most often quoted ekphrasis appears in Greek literature, in Homer’s Iliad. In the 18th Book of this work, Homer brings forth an elaborate picture about the making of the Shield of Achilles. When Hephaestus starts upon his work, Homer narrates:
First fashioned he a shield, great and sturdy, adorning it cunningly in every part, and round about it set a bright rim, threefold and glittering, and therefrom made fast a silver baldric. Five were the layers of the shield itself; and on it he wrought many curious devices with cunning skill. (Book 18, 478)
The later passages continue to describe the process of creation of the shield. Hephaestus’s
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He starts his inquiry from a critical and theoretical point of view, and he considers the ancient practice of the ekphrasis as follows: “It was, then, a device intended to interrupt the temporality of discourse, to freeze it during its indulgence in spatial exploration” (Krieger 1992, 7). As a starting point of his study he accepts Spitzer’s definition of the ekphrasis. He proposes to expand the usage of the term in a wider context and he states: “Even while deferring the special connection between ekphrasis and works of the plastic arts, I will broaden the range of possible ekphrastic objects by re-connecting ekphrasis to all ‘word-painting’” (Krieger 1992, 9). The term “word-painting” that he uses stands for the descriptions of visual works of art. Thus, he applies the term ekphrasis not only to mere words that describe an “objets d’art” as Spitzer mentioned, but more extensively, to the capacity of the words within the language to describe pictorial works of art. He mentions that this ‘(re)-connection’ of the term ekphrasis with the visual arts (as for e.g. painting) is favourable and advantageous both for the discourse and for the reader. Or in other words, the description of a pictorial work of art within a discourse doesn’t have to be regarded as a competition between the verbal and its visual representation, because the pictorial work of art has its own “spatial completeness” and it has a “constant” state of being; because of these characteristics it doesn’t rely on the reader’s perceptual ability, which may vary from subject to subject, because a pictorial work of art already has a “fixed representation” (Krieger 1992, 8). As a consequence, the verbal representation of a pictorial representation enriches the discourse in which it
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