Classics Lecture Series, Dr. Kevin Solez: Homer’s Odyssey and European Fantasies of North America
Thursday, Feb. 17, 4-5:30 p.m.
Homer’s Odyssey and European Fantasies of North America
Speaker: Dr. Kevin Solez, Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Classics
The talk will take place via Webex. If you wish to attend, please contact Dr. Luke Roman, Head of Classics, for the link: firstname.lastname@example.org
Abstract: It is well known that Greco-Roman myths of the Golden Age influenced European fantasies and fetishes of America, but Homer’s Odyssey and myths of Odysseus have not been considered sources for these distortions. This is surprising since the Odyssey presents a schematic view on the peoples of the world, dividing them in two, between the just and the wild, and positing wild humans and monsters at great distances from the known world where they consume perverse foods and live in ways similar to the first age of man. Canadians will recognize in this Odyssean conception features of the rhetoric that has served in the recent colonial past to slander Indigenous peoples. It was possible for the Classicist and Jesuit missionary Joseph-François Lafitau to imagine himself as Odysseus when he lived among the Mohawk at Kahnawà:ke, QC, from 1713-18, but what of earlier European tales of America? In this talk I consider Odyssean subtexts in the works of Peter Martyr (1511), Stephen Parmenius (1582), Marc Lescarbot (1606), and Sir William Alexander (1624) and argue that the Odyssey or myths of Odysseus conditioned their perspectives on America.
Presented by Department of Classics