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Where does one find Homeric scholia in print?

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Where does one find Homeric scholia in print?

Postby LCN » Sat Mar 03, 2012 7:49 am

Recently I have been using the commentary on the Odyssey available at Perseus - W. Walter Merry, James Riddell, D. B. Monro, Commentary on the Odyssey (1886).

I enjoy reading the excerpts from the scholiasts that the commentators often cite and wonder if there are published volumes of scholia out there?

The library at my local university doesn't seem to have any, which is only fair given that they don't have a classics department. I didn't have much luck on Google except that I found an out-of-print German volume being sold for over $1,000...

If I could even just find a good citation I could probably get the volume through interlibrary loan.
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Re: Where does one find Homeric scholia in print?

Postby Scribo » Sat Mar 03, 2012 10:21 am

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Re: Where does one find Homeric scholia in print?

Postby LCN » Sat Mar 03, 2012 12:15 pm

Thanks, that's a pretty exciting resource.

Also I learned from the link that I should be searching for Latin terms, starting with "scholia" and narrowing from there. Turns out the interlibrary loan catalog has everything I need, probably just about everything that's out there.
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Re: Where does one find Homeric scholia in print?

Postby annis » Sat Mar 03, 2012 12:30 pm

There are several scholia on Homer. The "D" scholia are less highly regarded for some reason. Nonetheless, Helmut van Thiel has makes the "D" scholia available in very nice PDFs from his web page. Look down to the section "Beilagen." There's one document for the Iliad, another for the Odyssey. At the moment their document server seems stuck, but I've never had problems in the past grabbing these.
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Re: Where does one find Homeric scholia in print?

Postby annis » Sat Mar 03, 2012 1:33 pm

I should add that if you're going to dig into the scholia, make your library get you Dickey's book on reading them, Ancient Greek Scholarship.
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Re: Where does one find Homeric scholia in print?

Postby Scribo » Sat Mar 03, 2012 6:47 pm

annis wrote:There are several scholia on Homer. The "D" scholia are less highly regarded for some reason. Nonetheless, Helmut van Thiel has makes the "D" scholia available in very nice PDFs from his web page. Look down to the section "Beilagen." There's one document for the Iliad, another for the Odyssey. At the moment their document server seems stuck, but I've never had problems in the past grabbing these.


Basically because they're next to worthless in many situations: For Homerist's or even those just trying to study very early Greek culture the pseudo-allegorical meanderings are just...pointless. Though they do have their place, especially if you're making a sort of diachronic study of Greek intellectualism. And they ARE rather early.

I checked in the library earlier, we use the the Erbse editions here in Oxford though I dare say there are many other versions about. Your link, for example, looks interesting.
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Re: Where does one find Homeric scholia in print?

Postby LCN » Sat Mar 03, 2012 10:12 pm

What is it that we know about Homer that the ancient scholiasts did not know that makes the D scholia 'pointless'?
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Re: Where does one find Homeric scholia in print?

Postby Scribo » Sat Mar 03, 2012 10:23 pm

LCN wrote:What is it that we know about Homer that the ancient scholiasts did not know that makes the D scholia 'pointless'?


Mmm....several things? I mean...seriously...like...an indescribable amount. The D scholia are not in themselves pointless, it depends exactly one what you want to do with your Homer. If you want to try and get closer to (obviously not a finite, reachable goal) the "original contexts" then allegorical readings are not really helpful since you can happily brush these aside in this instance. If you're studying the reception of the Homeric corpus, the development of Greek academic culture and other such things of course they're very useful.

The scholia are interesting, alongside such things as untenable interpretations, impossible etymologies and odd historicising tendencies you get quite a few gems of real insight and they really ought not to be under-estimated, it's just that they should in general be approached always with their context in mind.
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Re: Where does one find Homeric scholia in print?

Postby LCN » Sat Mar 03, 2012 10:55 pm

That sounds a little gentler than your first opinion. It's true we have better resources for figuring out etymologies, and impossible interpretations are impossible interpretations, but it sounds like what you're really contemptuous of is the idea of allegorical interpretations.

I have noticed this attitude elsewhere but have not seen it elaborated. Is the claim that the specific allegorical interpretations are plainly anachronistic? Or that we have knowledge that was unavailable at the time that shows that Homer did not use allegory?
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Re: Where does one find Homeric scholia in print?

Postby annis » Sat Mar 03, 2012 11:19 pm

LCN wrote:I have noticed this attitude elsewhere but have not seen it elaborated. Is the claim that the specific allegorical interpretations are plainly anachronistic? Or that we have knowledge that was unavailable at the time that shows that Homer did not use allegory?


Various philosophical schools would indulge in quite astonishing acts of interpretation to make Homer or Hesiod fit more comfortably into their systems. Philodemus didn't think highly of the practice,

ἔνιοι δὲ καὶ φανερῶς μαίνονται, καθάπερ οἱ τὰς δύο ποιήσεις Ὁμήρου περί τε τοῦ κόσμου λέγοντες πεποιῆσθαι μερῶν καὶ περὶ νόμων καὶ ἐθισμῶν τῶν παρ’ ἀνθρώποις, καὶ τὸν Ἀγαμέμνονα μὲν αἰθέρα εἶναι,...

On Poems, 2; DK 61 A 4


Once you've decided Agamemnon is air, there's no hope for you. :)
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Re: Where does one find Homeric scholia in print?

Postby LCN » Sun Mar 04, 2012 12:14 am

I have to admit I don't find the idea that the Iliad would contain a a layer of references to natural cosmology at all ridiculous, assuming such thinking was not anachronistic to the time of the poem's composition.

Of course to say that the work is simply an allegory of natural cosmology would be absurd.

I guess not having read the D scholia I'm not sure how sharply we're using the word "allegorical". The Homeric poems are obviously not allegories in the medieval sense, where each character stands for a concept and a doctrine and can be inferred by simply depersonalizing everyone back into a concept.

On the other hand it seems to me that there is an argument or theory beneath the surface in Homer uniting the various seemingly independent episodes. (With due allowance being made for interpolations.)

The Odyssey in particular surely is saying something pretty definite about what we would call civilization by relating the experiences of different travelers in search of their ideal home among various deficient communities. Whether Homer every rises or sinks to the level of direct allegory I don't know.

Still I'm rather surprised by the second part of the quote from Philodemus. To me the Odyssey seems indeed πεποιῆσθαι περὶ νόμων καὶ ἐθισμῶν τῶν παρ’ ἀνθρώποις, among other topics.

I'll have to search for the rest of the quote to see if I'm misunderstanding what sort of interpretation he's referring to.
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Re: Where does one find Homeric scholia in print?

Postby Scribo » Sun Mar 04, 2012 10:45 am

Philodemos was, like Aristarkhos, a bit of a, as we say, "bossman".

Cosmology does not = allegory. However there is one episode with discernable cosmological leanings and that's the dios apate (Il. 14) which has long been recognised for, amongst other things, its near eastern derivation.

The kind of interpretation offered IS highly anachronistic, basically. Almost as ludicrous as the later Christian attempts at Euhemerising poetry/myth to make it more palatable.

I don't think the Odyssey is about that completely, incidentally. I quite happily treat is as the story of Odysseus. It's been traditional to see is as a "transitional" piece, i.e how the age of heroes is ending but Odysseus can still retain his own. Perhaps with some reflections of the age of colonisation. But I think it can be fairly viewed in the same way we view the Gilgamesh epic.

The best approach to Homer, I think anyway, is to (try to) recognise it for what it is: a "post-traditional" narrative specifically about the past and better men. I don't want to use labels like "heroes", "heroic poetry" etc because these terms are quite frankly mere glosses in modern parlance and do not convey the full Greek connotations. But yeah, definitely treat them as monumental "heroic epics". It's quite clear that Agamemnon is not wind, that the gods DO interfere, that Akhilleus is one hell of an angry man. That, as it itself says, the Iliad is about the "wrath of Akhilleus" and the Odyssey "the clever man Odysseus". For Greek cosmology see Hesiod or the orphic corpus, for proper allegorical meanderings you'll want philosophy.
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Re: Where does one find Homeric scholia in print?

Postby cb » Sun Mar 04, 2012 5:15 pm

hi, the D scholia aren't as "prestigious" as the A because the A give us the best access to the scholarship of the famous Alexandrians (Zenodotus, Aristarchus etc.)

the D aren't just full of allegory, they're also v useful for just reading homer, giving synonyms and definitions etc. - for reading homer i prefer the D - in particular if one of the things you like about history is connecting with the past then you may well like using the D - you can feel a bit of a connection with the ancient commentators when you're reading homer and get stuck on one word in a line, and check the D, and see that the ancient commentators provided help for just this same word (and not the other words in the line), as if you both struggle on the same points despite the distance in time.

NB the erbse edition doesn't include the D.

cheers, chad :)
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Re: Where does one find Homeric scholia in print?

Postby LCN » Mon Mar 05, 2012 12:00 am

Scribo wrote:I don't think the Odyssey is about that completely, incidentally. I quite happily treat is as the story of Odysseus. It's been traditional to see is as a "transitional" piece, i.e how the age of heroes is ending but Odysseus can still retain his own. Perhaps with some reflections of the age of colonisation.



It strikes me that such an interpretation written about an important work of modern literature would be obviously shallow, even anti-intellectual.

What makes us so confident that ancient authors were incapable of doing anything more than passively voicing the putative historical tendencies of their times?

Why should the greatest single influence on Attic culture, cited favorably and unfavorably countless times by Plato and Aristotle, himself be incapable of actually thinking about anything beyond the horizons of his historical period?

The best approach to Homer, I think anyway, is to (try to) recognise it for what it is: a "post-traditional" narrative specifically about the past and better men. I don't want to use labels like "heroes", "heroic poetry" etc because these terms are quite frankly mere glosses in modern parlance and do not convey the full Greek connotations. But yeah, definitely treat them as monumental "heroic epics". It's quite clear that Agamemnon is not wind, that the gods DO interfere, that Akhilleus is one hell of an angry man. That, as it itself says, the Iliad is about the "wrath of Akhilleus" and the Odyssey "the clever man Odysseus". For Greek cosmology see Hesiod or the orphic corpus, for proper allegorical meanderings you'll want philosophy.



I certainly agree with the first part about avoiding modern jargon that conceals a lot of presuppositions foreign to the text. But I think your anxiousness to limit the possibilities of the Homeric epic to mere adventure stories is probably misguided.

Do you really want to fall into the endless cycle of overconfident scholars burying the bones for later scholars to discover? (To paraphrase Nietzsche.)

Homer was a profound thinker. If he were not he would not have so impressed the greatest tribe of thinkers the world has yet to produce.

Show some deference, for ...θεοὶ δέ τε πάντα ἴσασιν.

:)
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Re: Where does one find Homeric scholia in print?

Postby Scribo » Mon Mar 05, 2012 12:38 am

The fact that you think they're "mere adventure stories" or that the Odyssey being a reflection of its context is "no big thing" says a lot. I'm not going to even answer the "greatest tribe of thinkers in the world" bit, I think you're purposefully having me on there.

The fact is that these things you dismiss as being anti-intellectual are in their own right gigantic revelations about Greek culture. We can happily ignore many of the older generation of scholars for sound reasons, many we still listen to for those exact same sound reasons.

The fact that Odyssey is in many ways an expression of colonisation is in itself such a ridiculously huge complex thing that once you think about it...it becomes near blinding.

Homer wasn't a "thinker". He was a Poet. Capital P. Not that I believe in a Homer but the Greek Aoidos has a very specific culturally vested role, one of the reasons we're so dismissive of the kind of readings I disparaged earlier is basically because they try to postulate a sort of single...proto Oxford don/Philosopher like character. It doesn't wash, not at all.

If I had to summarise the Homeric corpus , I'd probably define them as being about men. That in itself is...wonderful really.
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Re: Where does one find Homeric scholia in print?

Postby annis » Mon Mar 05, 2012 3:15 am

Scribo wrote:Not that I believe in a Homer but the Greek Aoidos has a very specific culturally vested role, one of the reasons we're so dismissive of the kind of readings I disparaged earlier is basically because they try to postulate a sort of single...proto Oxford don/Philosopher like character.


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Re: Where does one find Homeric scholia in print?

Postby LCN » Mon Mar 05, 2012 4:22 am

Scribo wrote:Homer wasn't a "thinker". He was a Poet. Capital P.


Perhaps this is the crux of our disagreement.

What precisely do you think poetry is? Is it just a stratum of imaginative artifacts deposited by the most creative minds of each historical period?

If so why should poems composed thousands of years ago still exert an influence, not merely on antiquarians but on some of our own most important thinkers and artists?

In fact all poets are thinkers and I would venture to say all great poets are great thinkers. As we learn from Aristotle nous and phantasia are always intertwined.


Not that I believe in a Homer but the Greek Aoidos has a very specific culturally vested role, one of the reasons we're so dismissive of the kind of readings I disparaged earlier is basically because they try to postulate a sort of single...proto Oxford don/Philosopher like character. It doesn't wash, not at all.


Or perhaps the problem is you conceive of philosophy in the Oxonian manner, an activity possibly even narrower in its horizons than is the bad kind of classical scholarship.

But of course Anglo-American philosophy teachers would have no use for Homer, just as they don't really have any use for Plato or Aristotle. I did not have analytical philosophy in mind when I suggested that Homer could be a philosopher or proto-philosopher.

As to your specific favored interpretations, I don't see anything profound about finding a shiny new box to bury those bones in. Whatever historical paradigm you choose the goal is always the same - to assure oneself that the Homeric poems are objects to be mastered by the superior tools of the modern intelligence, not living thought capable of rivaling or exceeding our own.
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Re: Where does one find Homeric scholia in print?

Postby LCN » Mon Mar 05, 2012 4:33 am

annis wrote:
Scribo wrote:Not that I believe in a Homer but the Greek Aoidos has a very specific culturally vested role, one of the reasons we're so dismissive of the kind of readings I disparaged earlier is basically because they try to postulate a sort of single...proto Oxford don/Philosopher like character.


No man forgets his original trade: the rights of nations and of kings sink into questions of grammar, if grammarians discuss them. Samuel Johnson



I have a guess whom Johnson would favor between a Plato and a modern classics scholar for giving Homer (or "Homer", as always) his due regard.



(edited)

An afterthought occurred to me.

It seems you guys think they I want to de-aestheticize Homer, in some kind of donnish manner? To drain the poems of beauty?

This is so far from my intentions that I didn't realize I had given that impression. Suffice it to say this is precisely the effect of historicizing interpretations, in my opinion. Is it more elevating to read the Iliad in terms of the conflict between justice and mortality, or to read it in terms of 8th century Greek colonialism (or something like that)?
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