mwh wrote:Some of the single-author books mentioned are very dated (well, all except Graziosi-Haubold, really). Page is old-fashioned in all respects, and his rhetoric seems tiresome today. (Not that he wasn't a great scholar.)
Of the Cambridge Iliad comms Janko's is generally considered the best (a judgment I'd agree with, without putting down any of the others except maybe Kirk's), and is certainly the most engaging. For the Odyssey there's the three-volume set by Heubeck and others, internally differing according to individual commentator in a more pronounced way than the Cambridge Iliad set. I'm assuming you can't count on knowledge of any language other than English, but when it comes to Homer English-speakers are truly blessed.
cb wrote:as for the classics (parry etc)., i don't think these would be appropriate for people entering the field - they are only for the obsessed (and i rank as a culprit here, see from the rainbow of tabs how i've classified and tabbed every set of formulae in my own copy of parry by length and position: http://mhninaeide.webs.com/parry.jpg ).
Qimmik wrote:I think your syllogism somewhat overstates the authors' position on Iliad 10. They see the "Iliad" as a broad tradition of lore about the Trojan war, that Iliad 10, like the rest of the Iliad as we have it, emerged out of that tradition, and there's no reason to accord any part of the tradition a higher status than any other parts. But I think you're right that the big weakness of their argument is that the texts of both the Iliad and the Odyssey are remarkably uniform, even taking into account the wild versions of the early papyri, and there don't seem to have been any alternative versions in circulation as far back as we can trace.
I also think much of their discussion of the "poetics" of ambush is very illuminating--explaining a number of puzzling features of Book 10. This aspect of their discussion stands on its own and doesn't depend on swallowing "hard Parryism" whole.
However, I really have no idea how the Iliad and the Odyssey actually came into being, and I'm skeptical of all the attempted explanations that have been offered, intriguing as they may be. I think the genesis of the Homeric poems is simply irrecoverable.
Qimmik wrote:Which Skafte Jensen book, the earlier one or the new one? I read the earlier one some time ago but getting a hold of the newer one is difficult or impossible outside of Scandinavia. She's a hard-core "oralist" (as West would call them) and did field work in Albania, but I thought the earlier book was well-argued when I read it, probably 20 years ago. She puts "Homer" in the 6th (!) century.
One book I found really illuminating is Homer's Trojan Theater, by Jenny Strauss Clay. She tries to map out the topography of the battle books, suggesting (without embracing any particular theory about the origin of the poem) that the composer of the Iliad had a very concrete map in his (or her) mind and used it to keep everything straight throughout the narrative--and, more broadly, that this was a technique that an oral poet/singer might have used to manage the task of committing a long narrative to memory. But the book is valuable for explicating the action of the battle books, quite apart from her ideas about compositional technique.
One other thought: ultimately, I think speculation about the origin of the Homeric poems has run its course. It doesn't really contribute to our understanding and appreciation and enjoyment of the poems. That's not to say that much of the scholarship of the past 200 years--much of it focused on the search for origins--has made no contribution to our understanding of the poems. But the specific focus on how the poems came into being has hit a dead end. The more we know about the poems, the more complex the processes, the more contradictory the evidence, and the more mysterious and irrecoverable the origins of the poems become.
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