A Lawyer's Odyssey: Constitutive Conversation in Literature and Law

16 Pages Posted: 28 Jan 2017 Last revised: 25 May 2017

See all articles by Sherman J. Clark

Sherman J. Clark

University of Michigan Law School

Date Written: January 26, 2017


Through a close reading and original translation of several passages from The Odyssey, this essay suggests that lawyers can learn from a certain sort of engagement with literature — and with Homer in particular. Reading The Odyssey in the way I describe highlights the constitutive capacity of speech. What we say, and how we say it, does not merely reveal who we are; it helps makes us who we are. Moreover, our speech also helps construct the character of those to whom we speak. Homer brings this home. Reading the Odyssey can thus help us think more deeply about what we choose to say and how we choose to say it. Homer can help us learn to take responsibility for what we do — to ourselves and to others — when we speak.

Keywords: Law and Literature, Ancient Greek, Homer, The Odyssey, Rhetoric

Suggested Citation

Clark, Sherman J., A Lawyer's Odyssey: Constitutive Conversation in Literature and Law (January 26, 2017). U of Michigan Public Law Research Paper No. 533. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2906582 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2906582

Sherman J. Clark (Contact Author)

University of Michigan Law School ( email )

625 South State Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1215
United States

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