192 Pages, 6.00 x 9.00 x 0.60 in
Sales Date: July 1, 1996
A Choice Outstanding Academic Book
The "Homeric Question" has vexed Classicists for generations. Was the author of the Iliad and the Odyssey a single individual who created the poems at a particular moment in history? Or does the name "Homer" hide the shaping influence of the epic tradition during a long period of oral composition and transmission?
In this innovative investigation, Gregory Nagy applies the insights of comparative linguistics and anthropology to offer a new historical model for understanding how, when, where, and why the Iliad and the Odyssey were ultimately preserved as written texts that could be handed down over two millennia. His model draws on the comparative evidence provided by living oral epic traditions, in which each performance of a song often involves a recomposition of the narrative.
This evidence suggests that the written texts emerged from an evolutionary process in which composition, performance, and diffusion interacted to create the epics we know as the Iliad and the Odyssey. Sure to challenge orthodox views and provoke lively debate, Nagy's book will be essential reading for all students of oral traditions.
. . . the latest in [Nagy’s] series of brilliant and provocative works that open up new vistas in Homeric studies. . . . Informed and creative, wide-ranging and profound, this book stands at the cutting edge of Homeric scholarship and reminds readers why its author is one of the foremost classical scholars in the world today.~Choice
Nagy performs a valuable service, in the current climate of Homeric studies, simply by reminding us once again, and forcefully, that the relationship between our written texts of Greek epic and their oral origins is a problematic one.~Southern Humanities Review
- Chapter 1: Homer and Questions of Oral Poetry
- Chapter 2: An Evolutionary Model for the Making of Homeric Poetry
- Chapter 3: Homer and the Evolution of a Homeric Text
- Chapter 4: Myth as Exemplum in Homer