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Homer in Nature Human Behavior April 8, 2019

Posted: Fri Apr 19, 2019 12:47 am
by jeidsath
Nature: Large-scale quantitative profiling of the Old English verse tradition

Interesting article, primarily concerned with Beowulf. However they also count the number of periods ending lines in the Iliad versus the Odyssey and come up with this.

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For instance, Fitch [34] demonstrated that the ratio of intraline to total sense-pauses is a reliable marker of relative chronology for the tragedies of Sophocles, Seneca and Shakespeare, perhaps because frequent inclusion of sense-pauses not coincident with line breaks reflects a more confident and mature poetic style.
The Fitch reference is Fitch, J. Sense-pauses and relative dating in Seneca, Sophocles and Shakespeare. Am. J. Philol. 102, 289–307 (1981).
Like Beowulf, the Greek epics Iliad and Odyssey have also generated much debate about their authorship and composition. Conventionally attributed to a single author—Homer—both works nevertheless clearly originate in a long oral tradition and show signs of considerable evolution in the course of their transmission history, including the possible influence of written versions37,38. Since the two Homeric epics have numerous features in common, we hypothesized that they might also have a similar pattern of sense-pauses. However, as shown in Fig. 2a, the Odyssey has a higher proportion of intraline sense-pauses relative to the Iliad. This difference suggests a slight change of compositional practice between the two Greek poems, whether due to a single poet’s stylistic evolution or natural variation across the oral tradition. Had the two parts of Beowulf shown a similar or greater disparity in the sense-pause data when compared with the Iliad and the Odyssey, this might have supported the view that two different poems had been conjoined. However, as it stands, the comparative uniformity of the data suggests that the compositional practice of both parts was the same, at least with respect to sense-pauses

Re: Homer in Nature Human Behavior April 8, 2019

Posted: Sat Apr 20, 2019 9:22 pm
by Paul Derouda
I don't have access to the article - this kind of thing is interesting, at least as long as one is extremely cautious about the conclusions. Richard Janko did a relative chronology of the early Greek hexameter corpus over 30 years ago, but the problem is that you can't simply put poets from different places with backgrounds in different native dialects on single one-dimensional timeline according to perceived "early" and "late" linguistic features. I don't know what this study did, but I hope it's cautious!

As far as the Iliad vs. the Odyssey are concerned, I can believe it - I'm not the only person who thinks that they were created by two different persons.

Re: Homer in Nature Human Behavior April 8, 2019

Posted: Sun Apr 21, 2019 12:50 am
by Hylander
No, you're not the only person, Paul -- I'm with you. And in my mind the statistics cited in the article only confirm our belief. I can't see how the Iliad and the Odyssey could possibly have been composed by the same person.

This is one point on which M.L. West and Greg Nagy are in harmony (more or less).

Re: Homer in Nature Human Behavior April 8, 2019

Posted: Mon Apr 22, 2019 8:51 pm
by jeidsath
There is also the claim that "a more confident and mature poetic style" may be signaled by more intraline pauses. I could see how this might apply to the Odyssey.

I may code something up and try to apply this to the different books/sections of the Iliad.

Re: Homer in Nature Human Behavior April 8, 2019

Posted: Tue Apr 23, 2019 1:13 pm
by Paul Derouda
After reading the Odyssey for the first time Iread the Iliad, and after the Iliad, I turned to Hesiod. Each time I noticed a slight change in language, though I couldn’t exactly say what it was. I have no doubt that these differences can be found by statistical analysis. However, I’m rather skeptical that they could be translated to a linear mature vs. immature features timeline.