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Humanities 101 23 October 201 3. The Odyssey , “ by ” “ Homer ” Matthew Gumpert. Lewis and Short: An Elementary Latin Dictionary. Author: from the Latin, auctor : father, founder; producer, progenitor; authority; guarantor. Michel Foucault, “ What is an Author? ”.

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Humanities 101 23 october 201 3
Humanities 10123 October 2013

The Odyssey, “by”“Homer”

Matthew Gumpert

Lewis and short an elementary latin dictionary
Lewis and Short: An Elementary Latin Dictionary

Author: from the Latin, auctor: father, founder; producer, progenitor; authority; guarantor.

Michel foucault what is an author
Michel Foucault, “What is an Author?”

If . . . Pierre Dupont does not have blue eyes, or was not born in Paris, or is not a doctor, the name Pierre Dupont will still always refer to the same person, such things do not modify the link of designation. The problems raised by the author's name are much more complex, however. If . . . we proved that Shakespeare did not write those sonnets which pass for his, that would constitute a significant change and affect the manner in which the author's name functions . . . To say that Pierre Dupont does not exist is not at all the same as saying that Homer . . . did not exist. In the first case, it means that no one has the name Pierre Dupont; in the second, it means that several people were mixed together under one name, or that the true author had none of the traits traditionally ascribed to the persona . . . of Homer . . .

The Odyssey, by Homer

Homer genealogy of a text 1
Homer: Genealogy of a Text 1

Homer. Odyssey. Translatedby Robert Fagles. New York, Penguin, 1996.

Homer. TheIliad of Homer. TranslatedbyRichmondLattimore. Chicago: Chicago UniversityPress, 1951.

Homer genealogy of a text 2
Homer: Genealogy of a Text 2

Homer. Odyssey. Edited by David Monro and Thomas Allen. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1908.

Homer genealogy of a text 3
Homer: Genealogy of a Text 3

The editioprincepsof the Odyssey = first printed edition: Demetrius Chalcondyles, Florence, 1488

Homer genealogy of a text 4
Homer: Genealogy of a Text 4

Iliad: Venetus A, Biblioteca Marciana, Venice (10th century)

Odyssey: Laurentianus, Laurentian Library, Florence (10th century)

Homer genealogy of a text 5
Homer: Genealogy of a Text 5


After 9th century: miniscule cursive = divisions between words; diacritical marks)

Before 9thcentury: capital block letters = uncials: no division between words,

Physical Form

After 5th century: codex = book form

Betwteen2ndand 5thcenturies AD: shift from codex to papyrus. Earliest extant Homeric papyri fragments: 3rdcentury BC.

Division of Homeric epics into 24 books: 3rd-2nd centuries B.C., Alexandria (Hellenistic period)

Homer genealogy of a text 6
Homer: Genealogy of a Text 6

Earliest evidence of Homer: “some ancient quotations” (The Homer Multitext Project,; citations in lyric poetry as early as 7th BC.

Earliest probable reference to Homeric epic: vase inscription, Ischia, ca. 740 BC.

Homer genealogy of a text 7
Homer: Genealogy of a Text 7

The Peisistratid Recension:written version of Iliad and Odyssey commissioned in Athens, 6th century BC, under rule of Peisastratos

The homeric question
The Homeric Question

The Homeric Question: the 19th-20th century debate over the historicity of Homer.

The homeridae
The Homeridae

The Homeridae: a guild of poets claiming Homer as their genealogical ancestor (see Plato, Ion)

The blind homer
The Blind Homer

“It is a blind man, and he dwells in Chios, a rugged land.”

Homeric Hymn to Apollo 166-176. Translated by Gregory Nagy

German archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann, Mycenae, 1876: “I have gazed upon the face of Agamemnon”

An illiterate homer
An Illiterate Homer

Giambattista Vico

Robert Wood, Essay on the Original Genius of Homer (1769)

F. A. Wolf, Prolegomena ad Homerum (1795)

The homer question two schools of thought
The Homer Question: Two Schools of Thought

  • The Analysts: Homeric epics as product of multiple poets

  • The Unitarians: Homeric epics as product of a a single, individual poet

Odyssey 1 174 80 phemius
Odyssey1.174-80: Phemius

They reached out for the good things that lay at


and when they’d put aside desire for food and drink

the suitors set their minds on other pleasures,

song and dancing, all that crowns a feast.

A herald placed an ornate lyre in Phemius’ hands,

the bard who always performed among them there;

they forced the man to sing.

Odyssey 1 373 75 phemius
Odyssey1.373-75: Phemius

. . . Amidst them still

the famous bard sang on, and they sat in silence,


as he performed The Achaeans’ Journey Home from Troy . . .

Iliad 9 186 89 achilles the poet
Iliad 9.186-89: Achilles the Poet

. . . delighting his heart in a lyre, clear-

sounding . . .

With this he was pleasuring his heart, and

singing of men’s fame . . .

Odyssey 8 72 89 demodocus
Odyssey 8.72-89: Demodocus

. . . the faithful bard the Muse adored

above all others . . .

the Muse inspired the bard

to sing the famous deeds of fighting heroes-

the song whose fame had reached the skies

those days:

The Strife Between Odysseus and Achilles . . .

Odyssey 8 552 86 odysseus
Odyssey 8.552-86: Odysseus

“Sing of the wooden horse . . .

. . . the cunning trap that

good Odysseus brought one day to the heights of Troy” . . .

That was the song the famous harper sang

but great Odysseus melted into tears . . .

Dactylic hexameter
Dactylic Hexameter

dactylic hexameter: six feet of dactyls (— u u) or spondees (— —):

— u u (or — — )| — u u | — u u | — u u | — u u | — — |

(See Greek Hexameter Analysis at

Greek hexameter analysis
Greek Hexameter Analysis

To parse any line of Homer into dactylic hexameter:

Odyssey 1 1
Odyssey 1.1

Sing to me of the man, Muse, the man of twists and turns

āndră moĭ | ēnněpě, | moūsă, pŏ|lūtrŏpŏn, | hōs mălă |pōllā

Iliad 3 67 75
Iliad 3.67-75

Now though, if you wish me to fight it out and do battle,

make the rest of the Trojans sit down, and all the Achaians,

and set me in the middle with Menelaos the warlike

to fight together for the sake of Helen and all her possessions.

That one of us who wins and is proved stronger, let him

take the possessions fairly and the woman, and lead her


But the rest of you, having cut your oaths of faith and friendship

dwell, you in Troy where the soil is rich, while those others return home

to horse-pasturing Argos, and Achaia the land of fair women.

The constitutive condition of oral poetry
The constitutive condition of oral poetry

In oral poetry, composition and performance take place simultaneously.


Epithets: the same adjectives repeatedly employed to modify the same names or nouns

grey-eyed Athene

much-enduring, brilliant Odysseus

horse-pasturing Argos

Menelaosthe warlike)

Epithets and metrical constraints
Epithets and Metrical Constraints

much-enduring, brilliant Odysseus = polutlas dios Odusseus = half a line of dactylic hexameter:

So she spoke and he shuddered, much enduring, brilliant Odysseus

hōs phătŏ |rīgē|sēn dĕ pŏ|lūtlās |dīŏs Ŏ|dūssēus

Odysseus, a man of many schemes:

and in answer he addressed her, a man of many schemes

tēn d’ăpŏ|mēibŏmě|nōs prŏsĕ|phē pŏlŭ|mētĭs Ŏ|dūssēus

Repetition and formulae
Repetition and Formulae

Formulae: any repeating element of text


2.Entire lines

Son of Laertes and seed of Zeus, resourceful Odysseus

He fell, thunderously, and his arrow clattered upon him

3.Whole passages

Agamemnon’s speech, Iliad 9.17-28 and 2.110-41 Agamemnon weeps, Iliad 9. 14-15; Patroclus weeps, Iliad 16.3-4

4.Type scenes

The banquet, the sacrifice, the debate, the preparation for battle

Repetition in oral poetry
Repetition in Oral Poetry

“All repeats are founded on the principle that a thing once said in the right way should be said again in the same way when occasion demands”

Lattimore, introduction to his translation of the Iliad (38)

Early forms of greek writing
Early Forms of Greek Writing

Linear B: 87 distinct signs for different combinations of consonants and vowels; Mycenae, before 12th century

The earliest examples of writing in the Greek alphabet: 8th century BC; based on a Phoenician syllabary

Homer and writing 3 hypotheses
Homer, and Writing: 3 Hypotheses

  • The transcription hypothesis: Homer = an illiterate bard who dictated the Odyssey to a literate scribe

  • The ballad hypothesis: Homer = a folk-poet of short ballads; ballads were later combined

  • The oral + written hypothesis: Homer = a poet trained in oral tradition& versed in new art of writing