The Curious Case of Milman Parry

I’m about halfway through The Mighty Dead, and it throws up some interesting ideas on which, when I’m less tired, I might form some coherent thoughts. But for now, I will just share the strange tale of Milman Parry:


There was, according to the author of The Mighty Dead, a brilliant Harvard scholar by the name of Milman Parry. We will not go into details of why he was brilliant and what did he have to do with Homer. You can read the book for that. Let it suffice that after travelling extensively in Yugoslavia (as it then was) and collecting a weight of folk material in his pursuit of Homer, Milman Parry went home to America and decided to visit his mother.

Milman Parry had packed his suitcase, and, for reasons best known to himself, he packed his revolver. Loaded. You don’t have to be a reader of Greek tragedies to guess what happened next… Somewhere along the way as he lugged his suitcase around, the revolver went off and the bullet killed him.

Exit Milman Parry.

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