2024 : 5 : 19
Mohammad Ghaffary

Mohammad Ghaffary

Academic rank: Assistant Professor
ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-4012-0093
Education: PhD.
ScopusId: 55573741900
Faculty: Literature and Languages
Address: Arak University


A Polyphonic Reading of Othering in “Odysseus’s Tale of Trials” from Homer’s Odyssey and “The Seven Trials of Rostam” from Ferdowsi’s Book of Kings
othering, epic, “Odysseus’s Tale of Trials,” “The Seven Trials of Rostam,” polyphonic reading, national identity, toleration
Researchers Mohammad Ghaffary ، Houshang Yazdani ghareaghaj


The notion of the “other,” as opposed to the “self,” is one of the major problems that have occupied the minds of modern thinkers. In literary studies, it came to the fore with Edward Said’s theory of Orientalism. For revealing the suppressed voice of the other in the English novel, Said offers a “polyphonic” method of reading. Adopting this deconstructive method and building upon the interconnectedness of the epic genre and the issue of national identity, the present study for the first time comparatively analyzes two culturally different but generically similar texts, namely “Odysseus’s Tale of Trials” from Homer’s Odyssey and “The Seven Trials of Rostam” from Abolqasem Ferdowsi’s Book of Kings. This resistant reading aims at showing how bold othering is in the subtexts of these two works, contrary to what the dominant readings offered by traditionalist-nationalist critics claim, as the dominant, self-centered voice in each of them establishes its identity by setting itself off against an other. This study indicates that in both texts the hero’s identity, as a representative of his whole nation / race / culture, is determined in the course of a quest in which he is faced with a series of other figures who belong to cultures or nations other than the hero’s and, for this reason, are inferiorized, demonized, and negated—in one word, otherized—by the dominant discourse of the narrative, which identifies with the hero as the culmination of all positive values. This can imply that throughout history othering has been practiced by all cultures, no matter Occidental or Oriental. Therefore, finally it is suggested that, although a natural, necessary cognitive process in all humanity, othering needs to be counterbalanced by toleration in the (post)modern age of globalization, when difference is valued and privileged.