An explanation

homer

homer

Here are a few pointers I gave out to my boy Rich Jones after he made the decision to get involved with this beast of a project. These guidelines apply to all the tracks. In the future, I’ll lay this all out on a FAQ, once I figure out how to make a FAQ while treating WordPress as a CMS….

Did you read the first book? Sparknote it for key themes. The task is to present the chapter as the muse does, telling the story from a omnipresent divine 3rd person perspective.

Two things that will help:

1.) Hear it as it was done:

http://wiredforbooks.org/iliad/

The writings of Homer are usually in dactylic hexameter- six meters of Stressed/Unstressed lines. (More info on that is here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dactylic_hexameter) Remember that it wasn’t “written to fit the meter”; for hundreds of years this was orally transmitted, and the bards giving this recitation at various festivals of the gods were freestyling with a macrostructure in mind. Recent research (I gotta get the scholars name/work) I studied in school points to evidence where the bard was surrounded by a group of men and women who would stomp out the beat on the ground and rotate slowly around the bard, changing directions of rotation when the meter had a change-up. Think about it: 2,800 years ago people had a fundamental need to explain the story of their culture by singing poetry to a beat while people danced around them– if you don’t get timeless connection, this project isn’t for you. The goal of this project is basically to be more oldskool than anyone else has been…by about 2,760 years. You are the bard; this is your story to modify, as long as you create and sustain the elements. These elements are neatly summed up in the TEACHing protocol that I mentioned briefly over the phone, and explained in detail below.

2.) See the modern graphical rendition of it:

http://movielab.tv/the-odyssey,5163.html

This is the ABC miniseries that you recommended. My connection is too slow to download it, but I’m looking for other sources. My guess is that this throwback will be of great inspiration for you. While I’m sure the film has corrupted details, the only time you should be accused of textual corruption is through omission. In other words, don’t change the storyline and the facts contained within. Of course you’re not going to get all the details on tape. But the primary academic focus is to deliver the story as a modern rendition for modern ears, as well as an instrument through which people of all ages connect with history and the veritable foundation of western culture. On a human level, The Odyssey speaks about timeless themes: war, home, anger, love, rage, conquest, brillance, shrewdness, and getting some good fucking revenge at the end. On a non-academic level, I want it to be catchy, addicting, packed tight and profitable. Let’s get rich.
Now, onto that neat package of common elements that the bard hit upon then, and which you should cover now:

(T)hemes
(E)pithets
(A)ction
(C)haracter development
(H)istory

These elements are ordered as is most proximate to our medium- hip hop. The themes are sparknotable; hospitality, loyalty, war, revenge, propriety, fortune, providence. There are lots, though those are most of big ones. Different books have different themes.
Next, the epithets, are titles that are attributed to certain characters. They’re the most tightly packed words in the book—just a few words explain a book about a character. And they’re used in hip hop all the time. Consider every time someone says “I’m [blank] like a [blank]”. The first blank is the character, the second, his/her epithet. These are things NOT to be omitted, because they were most likely a constant among generations of recitations. But a modern rendition containing the same semantics is not only appropriate, but indeed our goal in a larger sense. Take for example the “hotheaded” Odysseus. While you should use that phrase exactly as a textual quotation, you might also use something that means the same but which is more proximate to our demographic. Irish-blooded? Gun-loaded? Rage-driven? That’s your part to be creative, and I won’t do it for you.
The action is the story line. You have to set up a natural flow and progression of the most important elements of the story so that the MC doing the chapter before and after you can pick up where you left off. How did Homer get from this island to that one? Why is Athena disguised as she is? Stuff like that.
The character development tells about how these characters evolve morph and acclimate to their situation in order to maximize benefit. Telemachus is going to be the big name in this category. Other characters are rather defined by their static nature, and “character response to situation” is perhaps a more appropriate element name.
Lastly, don’t forget the demographic. Many of our potential listeners may not be able to point out Ionia on a map, or even modern-day Greece for that matter. Tell how Odysseus got to his position in the outset of the book (Hint: review The Illiad), why these wars were going on, why there are strange dudes in his house trying to court his wife, etc. Not everything is explained by the bard in the book because it is assumed that the people of the culture of that time knew it already—both in terms of past plot development, as well as cultural norms assumed by everyone. We can’t make those assumptions, and so we have to fill in the gaps.

That’s a lot to chew on, but my expectations are high because I want quality product. In terms of people I’ve ever spoken to and had a conversation with, you’re the best rapper I know. So, if you can’t do it, some hope is lost. It’s a big homework assignment, but we are prophets of profit. Let’s do something big, make money, help people, and die famous.

The other recipient of this message is a classics professor of mine from school, Professor Myers. Free time and volition move him to spontaneous genius when it concerns this project, and although as of late his thoughts are more nostalgia than active contribution, he is nonetheless a great source of wisdom and inspiration in this endeavor. He teaches this very subject to the very demographic that I wish to reach—children—and for this same reason his cooperation in this project is somewhere between precious and mandatory. If he messages you offering assistance, you should take it.

  1. Brigitte

    Can´t get enough of Book II!

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