This book offers a discussion of how ancient Greek bards ensured that their poetry would reach audiences of diverse backgrounds. The Homeric poems were not intended for readers but for a listening audience. Traditional in their basic elements, the stories were learned by oral poets from earlier poets and re-created at every performance. ""Listening to Homer"" transcends present controversies about Homeric tradition and invention by rethinking how tradition functions. Focusing on reception rather than on composition, Ruth Scodel argues that an audience would only rarely succeed in identifying narrative innovation. Homeric narrative relies on a traditionalizing, inclusive rhetoric that denies the innovation of the oral performance while providing enough information to make the epics intelligible to audiences for whom much of the material is new. This book will be of interest to literary scholars in many areas and to general classicists as well as to those specializing in epic and narrative performance. Its breadth and scope will also appeal to those non classicists interested in the nature of oral performance.