Classics Colloquium: Ruth Webb (University Lille 3) "Objects and Actions: The bed of Odysseus as ekphrasis"

  • 603 Hamilton Hall Columbia University

Odysseus’ account of the making of his bed in Odyssey 23 is the culminating moment of his reintegration, leading as it does to his acceptance by Penelope after her final test of the stranger’s identity. I will examine this much discussed passage as an example of a particular type of ekphrasis, that of the way (tropos) in which something is done or made, a category which encourages us to place as much emphasis on the actions of the maker as on the resulting object. Doing so, and consequently taking account of the embodied knowledge that such ekphraseis encode, can provide extra insight into the passage and into the reasons why the account of the bed serves as such an effective proof of Odysseus’ identity.