Journal Article

WHY HOMERIC HEROES DON'T EAT QUICHE OR THE PERILS OF <i>KUKEÖN</i>

Margo Kitts

in Literature and Theology

Volume 15, issue 4, pages 307-325
Published in print December 2001 | ISSN: 0269-1205
Published online December 2001 | e-ISSN: 1477-4623 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/litthe/15.4.307
WHY HOMERIC HEROES DON'T EAT QUICHE OR THE PERILS OF KUKEÖN

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This essay explores the complex scheme of archaic Greek dietary semantics by examining poetic narratives with kukeön, a mixed drink traditionally consisting of grated cheese, wine, honey, and a sprinkle of barley groats The concoction is shown to be a symbolic flag for settings which are suspended from the Homeric status quo in three Homeric narratives which feature kukeön either by name or by principal ingredients In a fourth narrative, in the Homeric Hymn to Demeter, a different mix of kukeön is demonstrated to represent the antithesis of the first three, which is reflected in the fourth kukeön's lack of cheese and wine. This antithesis is explained by Demeter’s functional antipathy to the liminal contexts associated with kukeön in the Homeric epics. An implicit ontological scheme is reflected in these narratives, and is further illustrated by the chain of foods which bring the dead to life in Odysseus' visit to the realm of the dead in Odyssey Book II Lastly, a dimension of femininity and ontological infancy is shown to emanate through three of these narratives with kukeön and also through the culturally peripheral creatures who consume kukeön's principal ingredients.

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Subjects: Literature ; Religion and Art, Literature, and Music

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