Departmental Papers (Classical Studies)

Document Type

Book Chapter

Date of this Version


Publication Source

Robert Graves and the Classical Tradition

Start Page


Last Page



Within Robert Graves's enormous output, the novel Homer's Daugh­ter is easy to miss. Written mostly in hopes of achieving large popular sales and inspired by another book that few people take seriously, Samuel Butler's The Authoress of the Odyssey, Homer's Daughter has never commanded the same respect as Graves's better-known histor­ical fiction, especially the Claudius novels. This is in part because Homer's Daughter does not concern what are generally considered real historical events, although, as I hope to show, that difference has positive as well as negative consequences: it allows Graves to raise some of the same questions about writing history that he does in the Claudius novels, but with even more freedom. With its light tone and romantic plot, Homer's Daughter may seem especially deserving of the label 'potboiler' that Graves applied to all of his prose works. Yet, like the work of Lucian to which my title alludes, it is a playful but challenging exploration of the interplay between history and fiction. The jokey, satirical character of Homer's Daughter is less a sign of inconsequence than a reflection of how difficult the main elements of its story-romantic awakening and poetic inspiration-were for Graves, and the book stands as an overlooked illustration of the serious uses of wit.

Copyright/Permission Statement

This material was originally published in Robert Graves and the Classical Tradition edited by A.G.G. Gibson, and has been reproduced by permission of Oxford University Press. For permission to reuse this material, please visit

Embargo Date


Included in

Classics Commons



Date Posted: 04 January 2017