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Formulaic doublets

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Formulaic doublets

Postby huilen » Sat Jul 05, 2014 2:51 pm

I've just found this paper: K. O'Nolan, Doublets in the Odyssey, which I've encountered in Cambridge G&L commentary by accident, but it reminded me that discussion about μῦθος καὶ ἔπος of the other day.

This is what I understood: according to the author, formulaic doublets (i.e: words that are essentially synonyms but that are used together in the same formula) are essentially the same kind of formulae that are noun-epithets formulae. Noun-epithets are tautological, when Homer says σπέσσι γλαφυροῖσι he is basically saying hollow hollows, and so are doublets according to the author: μύθος καὶ ἔπος would be, accepting that, a similar formula by which a single idea is expressed by two images, the same as any other noun-epithet formula. I understand that there is a lot writing about noun-epithets formulae, so I suppose that by this reductionism one could think about formulaic doublets as the same poetic device that noun-epithets are.

Here is the paper if someone is interested of how far might I distort the original idea of the author:
http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/6 ... 4254862547
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Re: Formulaic doublets

Postby Paul Derouda » Fri Jul 18, 2014 7:29 am

I read the article, although I must confess I didn't find it particularly interesting. It has some good discussion of the Homeric epithet (how it is "the shadow of its [the noun's] substance" etc), but nothing you can't find elsewhere. I certainly disagree with the first footnote where the author claims that "Munro, e.g., dismisses the phenomenon"; I think Munro's words "The two meanings are fused, as it were, into a single more complete conception" are straight to the point, while the article itself spends 15 pages without having much to add to this. This article is (in my opinion) a typical example of the "Oralist" (also called "Parryist" after the scholar Milman Parry) school of Homeric scholarship; although many observations are valid and relevant, I think that Oralists are often too keen to explain everything as "formulaic" and many fail to pay enough attention text critical and other "technical" problems. Also, I didn't really understand what was the point of adducing Irish poetry as a parallel there.

A mistake I noticed:
Od. 3.378 αὐτὰρ ἐπεί ῥ᾽ ὄμοσέν τε τελεύτησέν τε τὸν ὅρκον
The author claims the caesura is between the words ὄμοσέν and τε, while it is obviously only after the word τε. ὄμοσέν τε is really just one word from a phonetic point of view, but for some reason it is written separately. The accentuation prooves this. Compare the (etymologically related) Latin -que.

Maybe I'm too harsh, certainly this sort of approach can be interesting, especially when you come to it for the first time. But often I find it reductionist.
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