Iliad16 and interpolations

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Bart
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Iliad16 and interpolations

Post by Bart » Fri Mar 27, 2015 7:07 am

Right at the end of book 16 is a longish passage (790-804) that describes how Apollo strips Patroclus of his armour. Ameis brackets this entire passage because of its inconsistency with the struggle for Patroclus' armour in book 17. Several questions come to mind:

-do modern commentators still hold the same view?
-why would these lines have been added to the text; I mean what is the surplus value of having Patroclus stripped after having him stunned by Apollo? Is it to belittle Hector's achievement in killing P.?
-how did (most) of these interpollations come about? Are they thought to be very early additions? And -to generalise the question above- for what reason were they added: artistical? political? Are they the result of changing sensitivities?

Sarpedon dead, Patroclus dead, beginning of book 17: slowly the plot is enfolding to its inexorable finale.

Qimmik
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Re: Iliad16 and interpolations

Post by Qimmik » Fri Mar 27, 2015 5:34 pm

I haven't checked, but I think most contemporary scholars would be loath to reject this passage--one of the most powerful in the Iliad. In general, the question of interpolations is mixed up with the question fo how the Iliad came into existence, which is still, and probably will always be, fraught with controversy. Scholars such as M.L. West, who think that the text of the Iliad as we have was more or less fixed in the archaic period--sometime before the middle of the sixth century BCE, tend to be more ready to reject lines and passages as interpolations than those who think that the text remained fluid much longer such as Gregory Nagy. West, for example, thinks that there are a number of passages that were expansions of an existing test added by rhapsodes--men who performed the Iliad (or parts of it) for entertainment, working from memory but using a fixed text, down through the fifth century and beyond. For those who see the process as a living tradition perhaps down to Hellenistic times, when scholars established a fixed text that was more or less what we have today, the idea of "interpolation" is inherently suspect: they would see most or all of the questionable passages as products of the living tradition and in that respect indistinguishable from the rest of the Iliad. But the entire question of the origins of the Iliad and its early history will probably never be resolved to anyone's complete satisfaction because the evidence is very thin and even contradictory.
the plot is enfolding to its inexorable finale.
The death of Hector is perhaps inexorable. But the end of the Iliad--Book 24--is anything but an inexorable finale. It's totally unexpected (though not unprepared).

Bart
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Re: Iliad16 and interpolations

Post by Bart » Sat Mar 28, 2015 7:49 pm

Right. Ameis is full of bracketed passages: maybe a very 19th century thing? And do I understand correctly West's view is, in this repect at least, a return to these older theories about the origins of the Iliad?
I really should read more about this, but then, time spent on secondary literature, however interesting, isn't spent on reading Homer.

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