Scribo wrote:The take on Homer suppressing homosexuality is an interesting one, certainly, I've never thought of it quite like that re: Ganymedes. To my mind such homosexually focused readings only really occurred during the classical period where we're starting to see significant changes in culture. Yet, despite my misgivings, I suspect you're right and this is an extension of Homeric tendencies to suppress and nullify/change and refashion other aspects of the epic tradition that are usually so prominent. Interesting, you've given me something to think on.
Homer and Mycenae: Complicated debate, not really controversial in the sense that those familiar with Homeric philology all fall into one camp (with its many shadings, of course) and those specialising in, say, Bronze Age archaeology produce very shallow, facile, readings which basically go like: found a bronze age cup, Homer mentions cup, therefore Homeric cup.
Paul Derouda wrote:Hey, I found out the book I mentioned earlier! I had put it in my Amazon cart, not that I was ever going to buy it, but to be able to find it again... The passage is to be found in the preview, pages 142-143. Pretty shallow to my taste.
James Neill: The Origins and Role of Same-Sex Relations in Human Societies
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/078646 ... PDKIKX0DER
What do you think about new German Iliad commentary? Haven't really opened it, because my German is rusty. For me, anti-American oralist is not a pejorative term (anti-oralist that is, not that I'm anti-American...); Homer is oral poetry, but not a transcript of tape record, so the findings of analytical scholarship can't just be discarded. (ML West has written on the subject at least)
Scribo wrote:I do largely agree with West's work and often find the work based in what is now known as hardcore American oralism to be shocking and fanciful, as well as too uncritical...no not every line is a performative alternation! and the evolutionary model goes against the bulk of evidence at positing such a late "crystalisation" to my mind. Regardless his latest book, is a little odd to say the least and if one removes the concept of tectonic expansions etc it does suddenly become very...illuminating. I guess I'm pretty central overall, not too exciting I know...
Scribo wrote:Well I once asked West if he thought of himself as a neo-analyst, he sort of shrugged. Its a shame he turned from writing a similar analytical and disquisition book on the Odyssey, but I know I will lustfully caress the commentary on the Epic Cycle when its out. In a recent conference on Stesikhoros, he gave an interesting paper we he showed once more how this idea of expansion would work using Odyssey VIII, it was very very interesting. I mean, as I say, I've my misgivings. I'm not really sure to what degree we're able to identify discrepancies, problems etc in the texts outside of glaring grammatical errors in the textual history. I mean how do we call something incongruous or superficial? So I'm not sure to what degree I stomach us detecting seams and fissures.
I'm still largely a Westian though, if only because I think some oral scholarship has went waaay too far with some of the stuff they're positing. You're right, its as if people expect a text to just suddenly...pop up out of nowhere. A text implies a lot of things in an ancient culture...
Nagy's work is certainly not negligible and there is a lot of good stuff there, I do often feel his work is unfairly neglected in Europe. In a way its the opposite of the Oxford school - massive emphasis on an impersonal tradition rather than a single authorative voice. For me, it has to be a mixture. obviously the tradition and peformance etc is important but traditional forms of performance tend to rely, occasionally, on supremely gifted individuals. I'm not happy with a supreme writing bard figure either. Colocovic has coined the term "post-traditional", which is interesting but I'm not sure it works for Homer either.
The other leading idea is that put forth by Janko and, most recently, Skafte-Jensen, about an oral dictated text. That itself is fascinating and the latter's latest book promises to be a treat though getting hold of it is nigh on impossible.
Actually this (finally free to access!) review is a cool overview: http://www.the-tls.co.uk/tls/public/article993731.ece
"Another thing, I don't remember reading this anywhere, but probably someone has said this before: If Homer and epic singers in general couldn't read and write and Homer had to dictate his text, who and what was it for, since he didn't have any use for it himself? People weren't reading books just for kicks then like they are now. But if he could read, it could have been some kind of rehearsal aid."
Scribo wrote:Nagy's work is certainly not negligible and there is a lot of good stuff there, I do often feel his work is unfairly neglected in Europe. In a way its the opposite of the Oxford school - massive emphasis on an impersonal tradition rather than a single authorative voice. For me, it has to be a mixture. obviously the tradition and peformance etc is important but traditional forms of performance tend to rely, occasionally, on supremely gifted individuals. I'm not happy with a supreme writing bard figure either. Colocovic has coined the term "post-traditional", which is interesting but I'm not sure it works for Homer either.
Gods know, whenever anthropologists get songs dictated they tend to be massively expanded
Scribo wrote:I don't really know where I land on these questions to be honest, I mean I've been writing a paper on something related for about 18 months now, and I'm still sort of...having difficulty nailing myself down enough to concretely answer my problems.
"Many scholars seem to assume that the Iliad was first created and only afterwards written down, but what on earth does that mean? Hasn't it been showed that in an oral tradition, every performance is different...ktl"
"Isn't West's idea just so much more elegant ...ktl"
Scribo wrote:"Many scholars seem to assume that the Iliad was first created and only afterwards written down, but what on earth does that mean? Hasn't it been showed that in an oral tradition, every performance is different...ktl"
Well technically in a living tradition even an exact reproduction would be "different" due to slight differences in intonation etc since its a performance. But, no not necessarily, I think the rubric of "ever changing" as established by Parry and Lord has long been shoved aside. I mean we know of traditions where exact reproduction is imperative, like with the Vedas. Actually this kind of subservience to a notional poet/group of poems would be just the kind of situation where written copies might be handy. In that sense the earliest texts might have belonged to groups like the Homeridai or the Kreophylidai, as attempts to control the text. Again though, there is a lack of evidence and it all depends on how productive you think the tradition is around the 6th century or so.
I do think it possible that the creation of the poem and the writing occured at different times though.
Well, again, how do we imagine the earliest text(s) to be used? Say we have an archetype, we can roughly guess that long/short vowels a, e, o weren't differentiated, no breathings, boustrophedon etc were attributes. Say it was taken down as via dictation, as other copies are made and circulated, other versions are sung, then of course the kind of problems like you highlight would be introduced.
"Yes, but I think they say those expanded songs are quite awful in quality, not at all like our carefully thought out Iliad."
No, this is subjective. I mean we possess a certain aesthetic, itself heavily influenced by the Odyssey. Highly wrought literature can exist along different lines, look at the Mahabharata. Actually quite a lot of the dictated texts from India and Crete are pretty damn good. I basically reject the "argument from quality" as inherently flawed and defer to the oralists on this one.
"I don't know much about the Vedas or Vedic scholarship. But aren't those quite a bit shorter hymns that had a definite position in the cult, in religious rituals? (A side note: is it really, really sure that they were passed only orally for like a 1000 years? And how can we know for sure they were passed unchanged anyway, if we don't have evidence of the early transmission?)"
"If they were attempts to control the texts, I still don't see how that explains the kind of problems like the dual/plural mixup in Il. 9 or the presents in Od. 7. And these are many.
Somehow I feel we have situation here where scholars are forcing every possible finding in the field of oral poetics into Homer, when in fact they should deploy Occam's razor..."
"Also, isn't there an increasing tendency to think that actually the Cyclic poems might be closer to "traditional" Homeric poetry than Homer himself, who would be an innovator? To me, the sheer length of the epics could be one the most important innovations - they can't be performed within the space of one day, which I would think is definite limiting factor in truly oral tradition"
"I didn't say this very elegantly, I just meant the kind of situation where a Serbo-Croatian or other epic singer artificially prolongs his song because a scholar asks him to make the longest song possible. Do we have real, "natural" examples of exclusively oral songs that go on for 15000 verses? I don't know much about the Mahabharata, but it's not "exclusively" oral, it's a text; I mean I suppose exactly the same kind "Homeric" questions apply to it as to Homer."
Scribo wrote:"I don't know much about the Vedas or Vedic scholarship. But aren't those quite a bit shorter hymns that had a definite position in the cult, in religious rituals? (A side note: is it really, really sure that they were passed only orally for like a 1000 years? And how can we know for sure they were passed unchanged anyway, if we don't have evidence of the early transmission?)"
I'm not an expert either outside of the usual comp phil reasons but in short: Well they were certainly passed orally longer, linguistic data puts them somewhere between 1200 and 1500 bc, whilst we get quotations of them from around 300bc we don't get manuscripts until around 1500ad and the level of fidelity between the manuscripts and translations and the ever living illiterate oral performance is ridiculous. The Vedic tradition is an important example though of sings which are memorised/kept in high fidelity rather than constantly recreated. There are others, but nothing like the sheer size of the Vedic corpus.
Again, I don't think there are that many problems when you look at the poems as a whole. Its like people taking vast linguistic divergences as evidence for different bards of a lengthy period of time. I do think such things can occur in textual transmission. Look at Ovid's Heroides. This sort of stuff happens when you have lots and lots of texts flying around, language change etc. There are problems, many problems, in assuming that these errors were assumed in an autograph. Obviously the poet could have re-read, or the recipient of the text, or anything. Its easier to just assume that regardless of origin, when the poem was rendered into text it was subject to the same problems as every other text.
I'm much more in line with Burgess' work than Griffins or even Aristotle's in this regard. Homer appears to be innovative, but we ought not to assume that innovation here = quality. But, not just the length, his vision over the past, his treatment of the Trojans etc is almost certainly markedly different.
Well as for length inhibiting performance, this goes back to what I said above about us needing to know more about the context. Taplin's Homeric Surroundings show how this might have happened. I'm unsure. For me I foresee something like an exemplary poet being invited to sing at longer and longer festivals, working on his song until eventually it is taken down. In expanded form like most dictations. Perhaps at the behest of a sponsor, or his students or whoever.
No, you do get quite a few good ones that seem natural. I chose India and Crete since you do get lengthy songs.
Yeah Janko is good in general. Actually, there's a series of papers in the journal S. Osoloensis where Skafte-Jensen debates with others (including West, Janko, Nagy) about the book divisions in the Iliad which are well worth a read on all this stuff if you can access it.
"The fact that some or even most singers are illiterate and yet know their songs word for word isn't a proof to my mind that a parallel written tradition doesn't have stabilising effect on the oral one, so that in the end the written tradition is responsible for the apparent stability of the oral one"
"Your idea of the poet isn't very different from West's, only he seems to think the writing of the poem happened parallely with traveling around and singing at festivals. He has written a short, kind of funny "Life of Homer" of his own. It's in German in a book called "Lag Troia in Kilikien?" It's really pretty funny and just a few pages, so you might want to check it..."
"Do you know whether this is the same stuff that was published in a book called "Relative chronology in Early Greek Epic Poetry"?
I find Janko's glottochronological dating of the different epics very unconvincing, however... I did even before I read that West and others agree with me."
Scribo wrote:Vedas: Well I'm not sure to what degree literacy was widespread in ancient/medieval India outside of accounts, ledgers and inscriptions. Or to what degree the various scripts were mutually intelligible. Anyway, there is an assumption here that if you have writing then you write everything down. Its obviously much more nuanced than that. The best treatment of this phenomenon would be Rosalind Thomas' book on orality and writing in Greece. Its Greek focused but also deals with a huge amount of ethnographic evidence. Anyway, we know that the Brahmins responsible didn't write them down for ages and that the writing didn't influence the overall tradition, at least not for a few millenia.
Notopoulos is the best source for the Greek stuff, articles and even a brief CD, Harvard has the full collection. The Indian stuff is insanely varied, across hundreds of books, I'll try to find a specific one next time I grab an Indologist/Anthropologist / check my notes.
No, different. Let me know if you don't have access to the Symbolae Osloensis...not for any illicit reason, you know...just curious as to how widespread it is...obviously.
Qimmik wrote:Janko would assert that he doesn't assign absolute dating to early Greek epic--just relative dating. I've read his book (more or less) and I'm still not entirely convinced, but at least he marshals evidence for his views. West doesn't like his work because it runs counter to West's view that Hesiod was earlier than Homer (or should I say, "Homer"). The Oslo book is an update, with Janko defending his views in response to criticism and some other issues, such as Aeolic phase vs. diffusion.
Maybe everyone should just back off and stop disputing these questions, which have certainly generated more than their share of odium philologicum. All of the conceivable arguments are on the table at this point, and none of them is completely satisfying. What we have are two wonderful, sublime and mysterious works of literature, and maybe that's enough!
Hesiod, Homer and the Hymns all have different authors from different regions (and "Homer" probably means at least two different authors, and not all works attributed to "Hesiod" are of the same author); a linguistic form that was archaic at a certain moment in one place could have still been quite current at another.
Qimmik wrote:I do have West's Making of the Iliad, and I'm rereading the Iliad right now (mainly using West's edition) while trying to follow his arguments. I think he has an ingenious and novel idea about how the Iliad came into existence, especially the way he draws on 19th century analytical scholarship but attributes the poem to a single individual cutting and pasting over a long period (well, actually just pasting, without revising). I think his theory is very plausible, and of course he's in a much better position than I am to address these questions. I'm still not completely convinced, though, and I doubt I will ever be completely persuaded to abandon my agnosticism, short of the discovery of compelling new evidence.
Scribo wrote:The other leading idea is that put forth by Janko and, most recently, Skafte-Jensen, about an oral dictated text. That itself is fascinating and the latter's latest book promises to be a treat though getting hold of it is nigh on impossible.
Actually this (finally free to access!) review is a cool overview: http://www.the-tls.co.uk/tls/public/article993731.ece
Actually, I think Lord and others in the oralist camp believe that the "quality" of the long Serbian poem is quite high (however that's judged), maybe even comparable to Greek epic, though I don't have first-hand knowledge.I think they say those expanded songs are quite awful in quality, not at all like our carefully thought out Iliad.
Qimmik wrote:Here's a good summation of my own personal views: the Iliad "is likely to be the result of extremely complicated processes involving both orality and writing, which we can no longer reconstruct." This is from the Cambridge Green and Yellow edition of Iliad 6 by Barbara Graziosi and Johannes Haubold, p. 56, and is quoted from an article by A.C. Cassio, "Early editions of the Greek epics and Homeric textual criticism," in Omero tremila anni dopo, edited by F. Montanari (Rome 2002). I think that's about all that can be said.
However, although I'm open to many views on the origins of the Homeric poems, I'm afraid I'm just not open-minded enough to accommodate this one:
Amazon offers it together with the Baltic book as a special deal, if you're interested.
Ahab wrote: As you said it is very difficult getting hold that book. I managed to pick up a new copy through abebooks.com a few weeks ago. So it might be worthwhile checking their periodically if one is really desirous of obtaining a copy.
Paul Derouda wrote:Ahab wrote: As you said it is very difficult getting hold that book. I managed to pick up a new copy through abebooks.com a few weeks ago. So it might be worthwhile checking their periodically if one is really desirous of obtaining a copy.
Funny thing, I walked out of the univ library yesterday with the book with no difficulty at all, and I can have it for the next 6 months...
Ahab wrote:Yes, obviously if one has access to a university library many tomes can be accessed that poor autodidacts such as myself cannot.
In any case I would still need a personal copy as I plan to do a lot of marking and scribbling in the book.
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