In his book about agent nouns in –
S. believes that the author of any given text uses words as a code to transmit a certain way of thinking. The purely linguistic approach can describe the way the author uses the language but is unable to interpret the author’s way of thinking. This justifies the usage of the narratological approach, which centers on the content and structure of the discourse as well as on the relations between characters. S. does not intend to create a revolutionary study of the agent nouns, but to contrast the thesis of E. Benveniste about the agent nouns in the Indo-European languages with findings in Homer, applying for such a purpose a narratological perspective.
The first chapter S. gives a brief presentation of Fraenkel’s theory about the nouns in –
By a function S. understands the future behavior that a third person attributes to the agent of an action. S. exemplifies this prospective value in Theognis (39-40 W.:
Besides this prospective element in the nouns in –
The second chapter applies the linguistic findings to the interpretation of the discourse. S. concretely analyzes the nouns of invective. He explains the concept of focalization as something that defines the person who is speaking, the character that expresses the perceptions, and the intentions or feelings present in the text. Through the use of this concept, S. is able to show how the invectives in Homer have a character of predestination attributed to the person insulted by the speaker. The hero who insults by using a noun in -τήρ anticipates this behavior in the person insulted. S. analyzes seven words: νεικεστήρ (fighter), λωβητήρ (slanderer), ἀπειλητήρ (threatener), ἀπολυμαντήρ (destroyer), ἁρπακτήρ (ravisher) and ὀλετήρ (destroyer). Because the behavior is foreseen by the hero who insults, his preventive actions against the insulted person are justified.
The narratological approach for the study of ancient literature is something relatively new. By combining both linguistic and narratological approachs, the author of this book intends to increase the acceptance of the latter among classicists. The traditional approach can be supplemented by the modern one, which in turn confirms it. The choice of a word following a morphological pattern finds a confirmation in the focalization of the text. This implies something that we already knew about the language of Homer, namely that it is adequate to the situation and not an automatic use of certain formulas at certain places, which is what makes Homer’s epics still masterworks. In general, the book may appeal more to linguists than to literature specialists, but any attempts to bridge the gap between disciplines should be strongly commended.