Homer: The Very Idea JAMES I. PORTER

The fixed point around which the Greek nation crystallized was its language. The fixed point around which its culture crystallized was Homer. Thus in both cases we are having to do with works of art. —NIETZSCHE And the blindness— —VICO

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HE ILIAD AND THE ODYSSEY have been required reading in Western culture from its first beginnings, despite the complete mystery surrounding the circumstances of their date and authorship, and despite their obvious flaws and blemishes—the inconsistencies, repetitions, irrelevancies, and so on—which have led to their impeachment as products of a single mind. All the uncertainties about Homer and his poems notwithstanding, their place in the cultural imagination in the West has been unrivalled. Indeed, as secular texts with no pretensions to revealed truth, and yet conferred with nearly Biblical stature, their status in world literature is almost unique.1 How can we account for their standing and their enduring attraction? Whatever the answer, approaching the question will involve confronting the monumentality of the two poems—less their quality as great works of literature than their role as cultural icons, as signifiers of value, and as landmarks in the evolving relationship between literature and culture. To look at Homer in this way is to consider his place—the very idea of Homer—in the culture wars of antiquity and modernity. A perspective such as this is an invitation to study the intellectual and cultural history of value, and that is how I would like the following remarks to be underarion 10.2 fall 2002

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stood. Homer will, in a sense, merely be our guide. Any discussion like this must needs be selective and, inevitably, reductive. My own treatment will be limited to a selection of developments within the English- and Germanspeaking worlds, starting with a glance back at predecessors in antiquity where the patterns for Homer’s modern reception were first set. The discussion will be threaded by three recurrent themes: first, the persistent classicism of Homer, despite every tug of pressure in the opposite direction; second, the elements of disavowal that go into the construction and sustaining of Homer’s ever-imaginary identity; and third, more implicitly than explicitly, the sheer allure and inaccessibility of Homer and, what proves inseparable from this, the sheer fascination of watching how the story of Homer’s reception continually engages those who contribute to its making. Looking at Homer in this way, as an object of cultural production, can throw a valuable light on the logic of culture, quite apart from any canonical virtues his poems may be felt to have. For leaving aside the nearly self-evident truism that what is finally at stake in the contests over Homer are the identities of the various combatants involved, surely Homer’s greatest attraction has to lie not in his greatness, however that comes to be defined, but in his utter mystery and unreachability. Indeed, if there is any value at all to “Homer,” it lies in the very indeterminateness of his definition, in his insolubility, which has provoked intense reflection and so too has served as an instrument of endless debate, contest, and redefinition. One suspects, in other words, that with Homer the ancients and moderns have made a rather telling choice of object for contention, one that ceaselessly authorizes the imaginative work of culture. Culture is not just an arena of contestation. It is a deviously calculating and self-enabling thing. Before going on, we might pause to consider whether Homer hasn’t outlived his usefulness to culture. Have we reached the end of the line? Is it true, as a small but vocal minority think, that although he was once a burning issue,

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Homer is now “dead” and that it was the study of the classics that killed him, thanks to the waves of trendy theory, multiculturalism, and cultural nihilism which have finally swept over classical studies themselves and turned Homer, the one-time fountain of value and meaning—of classicallycentered knowledge—into a meaningless bibliographical citation? It is a bit hard to make out just who Homer is in this account, because much of the time Homer seems to stand for nothing less than the sanctity of the Classical Tradition itself. The assumption seems to be that Homer is prior to the debates about him, and that he somehow persists through the din of debate to emerge victoriously alive—until recently. One problem with this complaint is that it imagines, wrongly, that Homer was ever a stable entity from which a sure base of culture and learning could flow. (Homerizein, “to Homerize,” after all can mean “to lie.”)2 It also tends to idealize classical antiquity, and to blind us to the fact that classical studies seem to be constitutionally in crisis.3 But it ought to be clear that “Homer,” in the desired sense, cannot have preceded the debates as to his worth. He was, on the contrary, the product of those debates, and his survival was predicated on them. In fact, if we wish to take Homer as an emblem for classics in the largest sense, then he has to be equivalent to these debates. He is not the argument that the Homeric poems, and by extension the classical cultures of Greece and Rome, have an intrinsic worth. Rather, he is the very disputation of the question (valuable to whom, and for what reasons?)—less what survives the argument than the survival of the argument itself. In any case, to read Homer in this symbolic way is to extend the very form of argument that gave rise to him in the first place. Here we might as well ask, “Has a person been made out of a concept or a concept out of a person?” This precise question was the centerpiece of Nietzsche’s inaugural lecture at Basel from 1869, “Homer and Classical Philology.” The problem named by Nietzsche was one that was racking the nineteenth century, both inside and outside of the academy.

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At issue was not the Homeric Question alone (Who composed the epics, when, and where? Are they by a single author or the product of a tradition, if not a committee?, and so on), but rather something deeper that was driving the question. What Nietzsche was exploring was the entire attitude of modernity to the study of “the so-called ‘classical’ antiquity,” that “buried ideal world” which classics was trying to excavate and to bring to light in the contemporary present.4 The problem of Homer encapsulated this larger worry. It would be wrong to take the Homeric problem as an artifact of nineteenth-century anxieties and as something that has been banished to irrelevance today (even if the particular form it assumed at the time was such an artifact). Quite the contrary, the problem has flourished from antiquity into the present. “Homer” has been good to think with. Or at least, something to think with. Not Homer, but the very idea of Homer. Nor does this interest show any signs of abating.5 Following in Nietzsche’s wake we can try to give some content to the concept of Homer, and in this way trace its history, or rather the history of this particular fascination, the sheer power of which still needs to be accounted for. For surely other relics of antiquity are equally mysterious and unfathomable as Homer has proved to be. So alongside my overview of Homer’s reception I want to add a further speculation, namely that Homer is, and probably always was from his baptismal naming, an idea of something that remains permanently lost to culture—whether this be a Heroic Age, an ideal of unattainable poetic excellence, or a vague sense of some irretrievably lost past. It was only natural that Homer, the narrator of Troy, should become inseparably linked to the violent destruction of Troy. That destruction was complete, and its memory was traumatic for the ancient world—and, in different ways, remained this for the modern world. So let us first consider briefly how Troy might have functioned as a trauma for Greece—not in a clinical sense, but in an imaginary sense, one that works through the artifices of cultural memory—and then take up Homer’s

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connection to this memory, which (all speculations aside) is an integral element of Homer’s reception. After that, we can turn to some of the implications these questions have had for modernity. homer in antiquity Troy had two connotations in antiquity. It was known either as Homer had described it (as a vital, flourishing civilization, albeit one that was pitched on the brink of disaster) or as it appeared in dim memory and on the ground, by reference to its aphanismos, or obliteration. Troy’s sacking was first mythologically and then conventionally the start of history, the ground zero of relative dating within human time (indeed, marking the end of the Golden Age, it was tied to the unrepealable separation of mortal from immortal time), and so history began, oddly, in an obliteration.6 There is a lesson to be learned here, and it was frequently drawn. The orator Lycurgus could invoke the memory of Troy in monitory tones, reminding the Athenians in 331 of their former dire peril at the hands of the traitorous Leocrates: “Who has not heard of Troy? Who does not know that Troy—once the greatest city of its age, and the queen of Asia—has remained for all time uninhabited, since once for all it was razed by the Greeks?”7 Troy for Lucan, centuries later, was a paradoxical lieu de mémoire: it was a place where “even the ruins have perished” (etiam periere ruinae).8 In between stretched a long literary tradition of allusions to the destruction of Troy, but it was Homer, not other poets, whose name was soldered to the catastrophic memory of Troy. Together, they became a fixed point around which Greece’s idea of itself would take form.9 It is ironic, or simply telling, that the Greek sense of identity formed itself around a possible fiction. The loss that Homer vividly recalls, being total and quasimythical, is effectively primordial, lying at the root of time. It was a loss that the Greeks experienced not only in the face of Troy (or Troy’s absence) but also in the person of Homer.

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What was Homer’s relation to Troy? A survivor? A witness? Conventionally he was neither. If Homer’s poems stood for the historical loss they also recalled, Homer the poet could only embody this loss, not merely in his memory of the past, but above all in his distance from it. Compare the following verses from the start of the Catalogue of the Ships, which is a locus classicus for those keen to demonstrate that Homer records the past:10 “Tell me now, you Muses . . . / [For] we have heard only the rumour (klevo~) of it and know nothing. / Who then of those who were the chief men and the lords of the Danaans? / I could not tell over the multitude of them nor name them, / not if I had ten tongues and ten mouths” (Il. 2.484–88; trans. Lattimore). Although these verses are standardly taken as a sign of Homer’s deference to the Muses, the opposite suggests itself: it is the deference that is feigned, not the ignorance.11 Nor is Homer, eager to make up for what he doesn’t know, innocent of deliberate anachronism, a fact that gradually came to the awareness of the poems’ readers only in the modern age. Representing a loss that could not be confirmed but only imagined, the reality of the Trojan war could be doubted, at least in its details if not as a whole.12 What is more, as if by attraction and then by identification, Homer was himself felt as a strange loss, as grand and distant as Troy, and it was inevitable that he should assume mythic proportions. One anecdote, probably Hellenistic in origin, relates how Homer’s poems suffered near-total destruction due to fire, floods, and earthquakes, as though Homer were not a text but a place.13 No other ancient author—and few places—enjoyed this kind of catastrophic fame.14 The survival of Homer’s poems, it was felt, was in ways too good to be true. How real, in fact, was Homer? The historicity of Troy could be doubted in antiquity, but we have no direct evidence that Homer’s historicity ever was. Still, the ancient view of history was plastic and accommodating in ways we can barely follow. Though never conceded to be a fiction, Homer was in fact treated as both real and fictional at the same time: his historicity was

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etched around the borders with transcendental hues, and consequently Homer became more than real—he became surreal. Whether or not we can ascribe their attitudes to Homer to precritical belief or to shrewd disavowal (which is fully consistent with the attitude of historicism), slowly the Greeks began the work of framing a monumental Homer, a Homer that was at once a museum housing a library of poetry, an empty cenotaph, and a workshop of ceaselessly new cultural attainments. In this enterprise, they were building on the tendencies to revere, monumentalize, and idealize the Iliadic past which were the norm in the archaic period even prior to the creation of the Homeric poems.15 The modern reception of Homer took its cue from here. Tempting as it is to connect Homer’s momentous effect on antiquity to a displaced, buried memory of the past which he came to embody, as if through a kind of transference of emotion, this can only be a speculation. But there is no speculation in saying that the uncertain question and meaning of “Homer” was the source of anxieties and debates throughout the whole of antiquity, which gave rise to a veritable Homer-industry not much different from our own. One need only think of Demetrius of Scepsis in the Troad, a provincial antiquarian contemporary with the Alexandrian scholars at their zenith, who wrote a monstrous, now lost, work in thirty volumes devoted, at least in part, to establishing the true location of Troy. This polemical and proudly local work was a commentary on a mere sixty-two lines of the Catalogue of the Ships (the Trojan portion, Il. 2.816–77). The fury of Demetrius’ historicism is telling (no doubt of different things).16 But it is only one exaggerated instance of a widespread tendency with roots in ancient legends and lore and in the earliest rationalizations of Homer. Troy’s location was widely debated, if not its reality. Similarly, and indeed in parallel, Homer was himself a controversial entity, as much a myth as a person, but always a legend (the son of a river, of one of the Muses and Apollo, or of divine poets, he died unable to solve a child’s riddle or

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from the debility of old-age), and ultimately a potent symbol, idea, and a prize.17 From Hesiod and Callinus to the Second Sophistic, the ancients do seem to have generated a good deal of their culture around the mere hypothesis of Homer.18 At the end of the line there is Lucian, who in his True Stories interviews the ghost of Homer in the Elysian Fields, pressing him about his origins (which Homer reveals to be Babylonian) and about the truth of his poems. Lucian was laughing at the entire Greek tradition’s desire to “really know” the truth about (an irrecuperably dead) Homer. Nor was he saying anything new, or anything the tradition didn’t already know about itself. A clear predecessor is the tonguein-cheek Contest of Homer and Hesiod, the product of Alcidamas in the fourth century, but rooted in earlier speculation about the lives and deaths of the two premiere poets of Greece. Moreover, if, as is likely, Homer’s name was added to his poems as an afterthought, once they became fixed as texts, it seems equally likely that this is when the contests over his identity were launched.19 That is, Homer became uncertain, literally lost to memory, the moment he was named and found. the modern idea of homer The permanent loss of Homer, the loss he came to stand for and embody, is an abiding element of his reception, but it is one that was felt more acutely as time went on. The moderns took their cue from the ancients, following the canonical lines of reception and research laid down in antiquity, though it was the particular achievement of modernity to name Homer finally as the idea that he always had been. Giambattista Vico first articulated the view, well before Nietzsche, that Homer was not a person but an idea (un’ idea) created by the Greeks (though believed in by them), in his Scienza Nuova Seconda (1730; §873). The denial of Homer’s historicity is for Vico tied to a denial of the historicity of the Trojan war as one more fiction from antiquity

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(“it never in the world took place”), but this doesn’t prevent Homer from being somehow more real than Troy. Troy after all has vanished, while Homer’s poems have not. But this can’t be right. After all, the Trojan war is no less “a famous epoch in history” for its never having happened. And so, in the last analysis, both Homer and Troy have to be equally real. Vico here is playing out the logic of disavowal that would typify Homer’s reception for centuries to come, which runs: “He was the best poet ever, but he never existed (and here are the proofs for both claims—his poems).”20 Vico’s simpler hypothesis, anticipating F. A. Wolf by half a century, is better known: it is that Homer’s poems were the final product of a long tradition of oral composition and compilation (§805). But his sinuous, uncertain logic is equally an anticipation of Wolf and the analytical tendency (see below)—and, I would wager, of most readers of Homer today. It is the logic of the MacGuffin (an impossible, non-existent object), which as Hitchcock recognized, governs larger parts of our lives than we are usually prepared to admit: ideas may be false and events may not occur, but their effects can be real, and at times they can even be more compelling than the truth.21 Thomas De Quincey nicely caught this logic in a wry moment of his essay “Homer and the Homeridae” (1841): “Some say, ‘There never was such a person as Homer.’—‘No such person as Homer! On the contrary,’ say others, ‘there were scores.’” Incidentally, if you are wondering how to say MacGuffin in Greek, you need only think of the eidolon or phantom of Helen that, Stesichorus assures us, was the object that the Greeks fought over and the Trojans defended at Troy. But then, he wasn’t blind like Homer. the modern historicity of homer It is tempting to say that one of the great achievements of modern thinking about Homer was its discovery, during the latter half of the eighteenth century, of the historicity of Homer and his world, but this is only half of the story. For

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once it dawned on modernity that it might be possible to locate Homer in space and time, and in a way that antiquity never could, it remained to come to grips with this realization. Locating Homer had innumerable implications, nor was it necessarily a desirable thing. To return to the language from which we set out, we might say that the traumatic loss that was embodied by Homer in classical antiquity became the traumatic prospect of Homer’s possible recovery in the modern world. Formerly a comfortable notion, for instance an icon of naïve genius of the sort that Goethe and Schiller could romanticize, Homer—the very idea of him—suddenly became problematic, threatening, and consequently a source of anxiety. In this anxiety was encapsulated the whole of modernity’s relationship to the classical past, and so too its own historical self-image. That there were obstacles to making Homer historical is not hard to see. The inherited idea of “Homer” did not readily lend itself to historicization. How can one confront an idealization (which Homer plainly was) with reality? Archaeology eventually held out the promise of a solution, but this in turn created further dilemmas and no solutions. Reinserting the encumbered Homer of tradition into history was an arduous affair. Much of the progress (if that is the correct word) was made reluctantly, and often with as much backtracking as advances. Coming face to face with Homer the historical reality was painful, because it brought with it a “feeling of derealization” and “estrangement” (Entfremdungsgefühl) of the sort that Freud experienced when he stood for the first time among the ruins of the Acropolis, an object of his fantasies from early childhood, and said to himself: “So all this really does exist, just as we learnt at school!” The thought was puzzling, because Freud could not recall ever doubting the existence of the Acropolis as a child. Searching for deeper explanations for his reaction, Freud rejects the most obvious one, namely that he had, in fact, doubted its existence. The fantasy of the classical ideal required it of him. Nor was

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Freud’s reaction exceptional. J. P. Mahaffy records his distinct disappointment upon finally laying eyes on the Acropolis, in his widely popular travel guide, Rambles Through Greece (1876; 2nd ed. 1900). His self-analysis is brutally frank: “the first visit to the Acropolis is and must be disappointing,” he warns the prospective traveler, because “there is, in fact, no building on earth which can sustain the burden of such greatness.”22 Equally revealing is how quickly—a short page later—disappointment is overcome and ideality restored, albeit in the key now of tender melancholy: “so at last we tear ourselves from it as from a thing of beauty, which even now we can never know, and love, and meditate upon to our heart’s content.” Homer in the modern age had much the same status as the Acropolis—as would, eventually, Troy. An idealized object, Homer bore an uncomfortable relation to historical reality. His reality was both affirmed and denied by classicism, both desired and unwanted, as was the case of all classical ideals. Nevertheless, Homer occupied an uneasy place apart in the modern classicizing paradigm, and the strains showed. He came too early to be compared with the fully developed classicism of Phidias and Sophocles, but given his paradigmatic role even in the fifth century Homer’s classicism could not be denied. In some ways prototypically classical, in another sense Homer could be felt to be both more and less classical than the classical authors of the fifth century—more authentically and more pristinely classical, if also representing a simpler, naïver, less developed form of classicism. At one end of the spectrum, there was a view like Humboldt’s (and, a century on, Jebb’s), which was that “one should dwell at length not only on the periods in which the Greeks were most beautiful and most cultivated,” but also, and “above all, on the first and earliest periods. For it is here that the seeds of the true Greek character actually lie; and it is easier and more interesting to see how in the sequel that character gradually changes and finally degenerates.”23 Historical contingency is at once admitted and erased in the essence of the

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Greek character, which gives the essence of the human mind, while Homeric psychology could be left unexplored—in part, for fear of what might be discovered there. What they were warding off was the opposed extreme, which finds in Homer a prehistoric childlikeness that is more naïve than even children can be. (A caricature of this view was developed by Bruno Snell in The Discovery of the Mind [1946; English translation 1953].) These are not really opposed views; they are merely two faces of a single coin. Both derive from the Romantic classicizing paradigm of Homeric mentality, which gives rise to two mutually incompatible pictures: the view of the Homeric individual as something less or more than a whole person. As a rule, the ancient Greek, and prototypically the Homeric Greek, came to be viewed either as an early and superseded instance of the universal self, an (as it were) imperfectly formed and undeveloped version of the self, or as a lost ideal of selfhood that may or (more frequently) may not be reattained in the modern present (the self that was once, but no longer is). And behind these two views lies the ambivalent construction of the ancient Greek in relation to the modern self. The realization of either fantasy promised to bring with it incalculable terrors. And with the onset of archaeology, thanks to the energies of Heinrich Schliemann at Mycenae, Tiryns, and above all at the symbolically laden Troy, that promise finally seemed to be about to be made good. But not if others could stop him first. Richard Claverhouse Jebb, the leading classicist in the English-speaking world and future editor of Sophocles, was one of Schliemann’s fiercest opponents. What business did he have getting involved? At stake in this contest, I believe, was more than a battle between academic insiders and outsiders. Schliemann’s work pitted archaeology, the study of material culture and physical remains, against philology, the study of literary culture and ideas, although this alone cannot have been decisive (Jebb was a vocal supporter of the founding of two British archaeological institutes, one in Athens and the other in

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Rome). Schliemann’s digs presented an additional threat: they probed into archaic Greece, pushing the envelope of the modern contact with classical antiquity into the furthest reaches of Bronze Age, well beyond what anyone gazing at the Elgin marbles, which were hung in the British Museum in 1816, could imagine. But above all, it was Schliemann who, beyond anyone else, presented to the modern world the specter of a Homer redivivus: now Homer would be shown not to be a phantom, but to have been a material reality, as solid as the foundations of a rediscovered Troy. Would he even be recognizably Greek any longer? How Schliemann imagined Homer to have been is unclear. But what he unearthed was both excitingly and frighteningly strange, and Jebb would have none of it. He disputed Schliemann’s methods and challenged his findings. At the formal center of the dispute was the location of ancient Troy: Hisarlık according to Schliemann, Pınarba£ı according to Jebb (who sided with Demetrius of Scepsis, while singing his praises).24 Mahaffy, backing Schliemann, would align Jebb with “those who are playing Demetrius’ part,” and by the strangest of inversions the nineteenth century found itself thrown back into the mid-second century bce.25 But unlike Demetrius, the skeptical Jebb was ultimately unconcerned with the location of ancient Troy. He wanted to dispute the location of Homer’s Troy. In particular, what was in dispute was the reality of the acropolis, not of Athens now, but of Troy. That is, it was the question whether Hisarlık, lying flat on the plain, could possibly have been adorned with the “lofty” and “beetling” acropolis of the Iliad (Homer’s Pergamus). Schliemann had to give up this possibility early on in his digs. In May of 1873, he made a first revision: “what I last year considered to be the ruins of a second storey of the Great Tower are only benches made of stones joined with earth.”26 Against his own will, Schliemann’s Homer was being brought down to ground level, a veritable humiliation. Two years later, in his book on Troy he added: “the city had no acropolis, and Pergamus is a pure

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invention of Homer.”27 Jebb comments drily, “For Dr. Schliemann, who believed in the historical accuracy of the Iliad, . . . [an admission like] this must have been somewhat of a trial.” Troy was not the Acropolis; it could lay no claim on the classical imagination. But Jebb still wasn’t satisfied. Homer’s Troy, according to him, was a work of the fancy, a pure poetic invention by Homer. As he resoundingly put it, “‘Homer’s Troy,’ in the sense of an actual town described by a poet recording historical fact, has not been found at Hissarlik, and will never be found anywhere.”28 Schliemann, for his part, wouldn’t budge. At most, he would make the remarkable allowance that “Homer can never have seen Ilium’s Great Tower, the surrounding wall of Poseidon and Apollo, the Scaean Gate or the Palace of King Priam. . . . He knew of these monuments of immortal fame only from hearsay.”29 And still Homer was the best source of evidence for identifying the finds at Troy! In return, Jebb would play the classicizing card that trumped all others: sublimation, by claiming that “it is in taking a bird’s-eye view from a height, not in looking around on the level, that the comprehensive truth of Homeric topography is most vividly grasped. Homer is as his own Zeus or his own Poseidon, not as one of the mortals warring on the lower ground.”30 This move, conflating Homer with a perspective offered up by his poems—which is to say with their sovereign consciousness— was a well-rehearsed element of the classical tradition, from Robert Wood to Schiller, Goethe, and Hegel. The problem for classicism was not reducing Homer to a notional existence (to the idea of his poems); it was detaching that concept from the substance of the poems. For that would mean the materialization of Homer, and his loss of reality—his exposure as an idea(l). Were there space, one could trace parallel developments in philology, for which the Homeric texts had begun to appear as something like an archaeological site, with layers of history built into them in a palpable stratigraphy: the disparate effects of multiple compositional layers (some, including

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Jebb, would call these “strata”) and the intrusive hands of editors could all be felt in the poems. Thanks to classics, starting with F. A. Wolf’s Prolegomena to Homer (1795), Homer had become a scientific object, in the form of a question. Thanks to Homer, classics had become again what it always had been, an object of uncertainty and doubt. But what is even more important, classics would never again be free of historical and material contingency. One of the more profound results of this process was the inevitable detachment of Homer from the stuff of his epics: Homer was now firmly located centuries away from the stories he sang. But surely one of the more curious upshots of this process was that Homer could now be viewed as a complete stranger to the past he retold, or else, insofar as he was moved to counteract historical loss (for instance, by preserving archaic details, whether or not he grasped their meaning), as something of a proto-archaeologist in his own right.31 The past was a foreign country indeed. Homer had become its alienated witness, and in his alienation he stood closer to “us.” But just how close do we want to get to Homer? on not translating homer: arnold, newman, and parry As a final illustration of the dilemmas this kind of proximity and overproximity of Homer to the present created, I want to offer a sketch of two oddly connected instances of the modern approaches to Homer: Matthew Arnold’s Victorian quarrel over Homeric translation and Milman Parry’s revolutionary discovery of oral composition. What we will find here are different strategies of keeping Homer at an appropriate distance, now mediated through the question of his translatability. In late 1860 and early 1861, Matthew Arnold, the Oxford Professor of Poetry, delivered and then published a series of lectures called “On Translating Homer.” The lectures had a

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single purpose: to air criticisms of the 1856 translation of the Iliad by Francis W. Newman, professor of Latin at University College London (and brother to the future cardinal), and to propose a new theory of translation as a counter to existing English renderings, from Chapman, Pope, and Cowper to Newman and other Victorians. Newman’s position is laid out in his Preface and is easily summed up. The Greeks, but in particular Homer, are marked by their “eminently childlike simplicity” of mind. The style of Homer, being in Newman’s words “quaint, garrulous, prosaic, low,” and, above all, “antiquated,” matches this mentality perfectly.32 The poetic form most suited to rendering these qualities is the old English lyrical ballad, with its Saxon sounds and its alternating four and three beats to a line. The result is the following: “Chestnut and Spotted! noble pair! / farfamous brood of Spry-foot! // In other guise now ponder ye / your charioteer to rescue // Back to the troop of Danaï, / when we have done with battle: // Nor leave him dead upon the field, / as late yet left Patroclus.”33 The end product may be strange, but that is the intended effect. Indeed, Newman’s translation is prefaced by a two-page “Glossary” of the more antiquated terms, not unlike a Greek textbook of Homer for beginners. Arnold’s objection is total: Newman has it all wrong. Homer is neither quaint nor antiquated in Greek, nor should he sound like this in English. He is, on the contrary, “noble,” “simple,” “plain,” “rapid,” “natural,” and “transparent.” “An appropriate meter” is needed to capture the aesthetic and ethical qualities of Homer’s language; the meter must be Greek; it must be authentic; it must, therefore, be the hexameter.34 The result will read something like this (in Arnold’s sample counter-translation): “Xanthus and Balius both, ye far-famed seed of Podarga! // See that ye bring your master home to the host of the Argives // In some other sort than your last, when the battle is ended; // And not leave him behind, a corpse on the plain, like Patroclus” (166). Newman replied in a hundred-page essay in the same year, and Arnold shot back with a concluding scientific postscript (“Last

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Words”). The debate is fascinating, as much for the ground that the two critics share as for their unbridgeable differences. What they share—and I am compressing, for the debate gains in clarity as it rumbles on—is a fundamental accord around the single duty of translation: it should faithfully render, in Arnold’s phrase, “the general effect” and “impression” that Homer’s verses produce on the ear and mind of its hearers, without seeking to render the particulars of Homer’s verses themselves.35 What is to be captured is less the sound or the meaning than the “moral character” of the sound and the poetry. For Newman, this means rendering the effect of the strangeness of Greek relative to English; his translation is meant to be “a historical one”: it creates, or else recreates, the effect of a historical alienation.36 Only, what is odd about his model of estrangement is this: it works by analogy, while the analogy works by familiarity and identification. (The form of choice is after all the popular “national ballad metre,” and it is “a likeness of moral genius which is to be aimed at.”37) Newman’s aim is “to rear a poem that shall affect our countrymen as the original may be conceived to have affected its natural hearers.” The point of reference is Sophocles, and then Robert Burns: for “every sentence of [Homer] was more or less antiquated to Sophocles, who could no more help feeling at every instant the foreign and antiquated character of the poetry than an Englishman can help feeling the same in reading Burns’ poems.”38 Readers today must identify with the classical ear in order to appreciate Homer’s preclassical antiquity. But the relative antiquity of Homer in the Periclean age, itself already separated by a “chasm” from Homer,39 has become an “absolute” antiquity for the modern-day Victorian, and so Homer appears today as a “poet of a barbarian age” (“odd” and “illogical,” and comparable only to an “African tribesman of the Gold Coast,” he can be “disgusting and horrible occasionally”), whence his “inexhaustibly quaint [and] very eccentric” diction.40 After all, Newman pleads, “a crag must not be cut like a gem.”41 It seems odd that Newman’s reader should identify with the be-

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mused Sophocles, both of them joining hands in the face of a distant Homer, but that is how Newman will have it. Newman’s Homer is to be filtered through a classicizing lens; but through that lens he will appear hoarily antique. Arnold has a different view. He is willing to concede, in a way that Newman would not, that Homer is forever historically and aesthetically lost to us (“we cannot possibly tell how the Iliad ‘affected its natural hearers,’” not even in the fifth-century [98, 100]), and so the next best thing is to strike a compromise and “to try to satisfy scholars” (117): “they are the only tribunal in this matter: the Greeks are dead” (99; italics added). For Arnold, too, translation is mediated by identification. Only, the target of the identification for the reader is not the classical Athenian poet, but the modern classical scholar, whether he be “the Provost of Eton, or Professor Thompson at Cambridge, or Professor Jowett here in Oxford.” What the translator should aim at is to recreate the “feeling which to read the original gives them” (99; italics added), which is to say gives informed and poetically sensitive modern scholars, for “the scholar alone has the means of knowing that Homer who is to be reproduced” (117). Rendering the impression that Homer makes on the informed modern-day reader, the translation will be a kind of simulacrum, not of the original songs in their original sound, but of the experience of reading Homer’s Greek today. The verses will scan as hexameters (difficult though it be to render a quantitative accent in an accentual language like English),42 so as to remind us that we are dealing with a Greek original, and to give a sense of the epics’ flow and movement (104–5). But the English will be as clear and limpid, and as natural and direct, as Homer’s language is to the contemporary fluent reader of the original. No glossary is needed. Readers will get a fully digested Greek in English form, and so they can enjoy Greek and remain Greekless all at once. Arnold’s solution to the Homeric problem of translation is no accident of theory gone awry. His program is fundamen-

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tally a pedagogical one, and it goes along well with his liberal politics and with the social mission of English criticism generally. Classics is dying as a field, but literacy is rising, he notes on the first page. Translation will make the classics available to everyone. But more to the point, translation can serve education by offering the make-believe experience of reading what is increasingly a dead language: the untutored ear is to be treated to a surrogate experience of the classics. What it receives (learns to understand, even hears) is no longer Homer, but rather Homer’s monumentality: Homer will be read, “not indeed as part of a classical course, but as the most important poetical monument existing” (97)—even if ultimately what is rendered is nothing more than a feeling, or rather the illusion of one: “we feel, or imagine we feel, even though it be unsupported . . . ” (199). This last remark is Arnold’s, but he may as well have been speaking for Newman too, who likewise sought to create the effect of an “illusion.”43 After all, both agree that a gulf of “time, race, and language” separates us from Homer, “who belong[s] to another world,” even if Arnold, but not Newman, wants to call this world “classical” (135). For both critics, Homer stands off in a remote distance from us today. A case in point has to do with their attitudes to Homer’s meaning. Both concur that the meanings of Homer’s individual words are all too frequently opaque (which is to say, lost and irrecoverable), and that ultimately what a good translation renders is not meaning but atmosphere, feeling, and style. But whereas Newman’s translator seeks to capture the strangeness of words whose meaning has vanished, Arnold perceives no obstacles to a translator, for whom nothing in Homer is so opaque as to lie beyond capture. For Arnold, a reader’s practiced enjoyment will annul all philological scruples, whether of meaning or of the Homeric Question (which he declares both insoluble and irrelevant [99–100]): “the uncertainty of the scholar about the true meaning of certain words can never change this general effect, . . . whatever the scholar’s doubts about the word

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may be. . . . Poetically he feels clearly about the word, although philologically he may not” (182).44 This curious act of open disavowal, which goes hand in hand with an affirmation of Homer’s singular personality and a characterization of his original “mind” and “voice,”45 reenacts a conventional ambivalence of classical scholarship from Wolf onward, an ambivalence that was driven by diverging aesthetic and philological impulses.46 But that is not the point I want to emphasize here. Rather, I want us to concentrate on the opacity—the loss and lack of meaning and sense—that joins these two impulses before they turn into philological doubt and distance or into aesthetic pleasure and (illusory) contact with the past. Another example, this time from the early twentieth century, will help reinforce the point. In 1928, a young American graduate student from Berkeley published two doctoral theses in French. A quick succession of essays in English followed, until his untimely death in 1935. The work of Milman Parry changed the face of Homeric studies even more dramatically than Wolf had. What he demonstrated, in scientific detail, was the nature of Homeric composition: it was oral, traditional, the work of generations, and formular (built around modular noun-epithet combinations that slotted into fixed metrical positions). It is often said that Parry transcended the stale debates of the nineteenth-century Homeric Question, for instance that he made otiose the endless debates without issue between those who argued the unity of the extant poems and those who saw only layers of sedimented accretions.47 Nothing could be further from the truth. In Parry, the Homeric Question is reduced to its barest essentials and made achingly relevant again. Parry, the hard-hitting statistician, gives the sense that with his work one can get almost an archaeological glimpse of the oldest and indelible layers of the Homeric tradition, practically its unconscious memory and poetics. Parry’s theory carries out the logic of Wolf’s reduction of Homer: it severely constrains the role of the poet as an originator of diction or meaning, let alone of poetic effect; the poet is re-

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duced to a spokesman of the rhapsodic tradition that preceded him, as its last incarnation, virtually as its effect or product. But at the same time, this puts the Homeric composer (whom Parry conventionally dubs “Homer”) in an awkward position vis-à-vis his own tradition: how much of this tradition is Homer actually aware? As a machine of memory with limited aesthetic scope, his materials emerging from the deepest lava flows of epic time, does Homer even understand what he sings? Parry stares down this question directly in his first Englishlanguage publication, “The Homeric Gloss: A Study in WordSense,” from 1928. There, he isolates to his satisfaction a category of words whose meaning is obscure to Homer and his audience. Oddly, the starting point is made up by those phrases whose meaning is obscure, if not utterly opaque, to ourselves.48 In any event, the gloss or sub-category of ornamental epithets Parry defines as “adjectives used attributively without reference to the ideas of the sentences or the passages where they appear,” and whose meaning leaves us “in the dark” (241). These are words like ajtrugevtoio (used seventeen times of the sea and once of the air) or ejntupav~ (“evidently an adverb”), where the lexica draw a blank and no amount of guessing will prove a scholar right or wrong. But why should these words be unknown to Homer and his audience? One pressing reason is the need to preserve intact the Homeric hypothesis itself. In a word, the datability of Homer is founded on the absolute undatability of some of his language. Take away the premise of layers of archaism unto obscurity, and the entire hypothesis that Homeric composition transpired over generations collapses on itself.49 Homer has to have come after the tradition, and he has to be ignorant of some of what preceded him. He has to become a poet of memory without access to what he remembers. This reduction fits hand in glove with the theory of a reduced Homeric persona. As Parry asks, anticipating a reader’s puzzlement, “Did Homer, then, accept blindly, as an unchangeable part of the traditional style which he inher-

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ited, a large number of words concerning whose meaning he was completely ignorant?” (248). The answer is, plainly, Yes. Accordingly, “the meaning of the fixed epithet has thus a reduced importance: it is used inattentively by the poet, and heard by the auditor in a like manner” (249); its effect is one of “rapidity,” of a mere incidence of sound (the term is originally Arnold’s [428]); it is both familiar, from its repeated occurrences, and strange; its uses tend to be “irrational”; it is necessarily “vague” (249), but also associated by habituation to meaning of another kind, or rather to a sense of meaning: the auditor (and Homer is and is not his own auditor for Parry) can “pass rapidly over the ornament glosses, feeling in them only an element which ennobles the heroic style,” and that somehow confirms through its great antiquity the very antiquity and epic distance of the poetry itself; “he is fully alive to their sense, but scarcely heedful of their meaning,” and so on (250). Not content to leave Homer blind, Parry bestows him with the illusion of clairvoyance: “It may be considered as certain that Homer thought he understood the ornament glosses” (248). But that is just another form of blindness. So ends the article on the Homeric gloss. But how generalizable is this isolated anomaly to the rest of Parry’s theory? Completely, I want to suggest. And it is here, or already, that Parry’s theory starts sounding strangely familiar, at once Arnoldian and Newmanian—not surprisingly, given that Parry cites Arnold’s essay in a handful of places. A section of his doctoral thesis from 1928 even asks, “Can the Fixed Epithet Be Translated?” and the answer is, predictably, No, and it doesn’t need to be.50 Nor is this all. Ornamental epithets that take the form of glosses, far from being an aberrant moment of the epic experience, are in fact symbolic of that experience as a whole: here the auditor listens with, as it were, a third ear, feeling more than hearing (let alone comprehending) what is sung. That is, while ornamental epithets, unlike glosses, have a fixed and knowable meaning for the original audience or for ourselves, they share a crucial feature of the

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gloss, which is that their meaning is not their essential characteristic. The gloss is a word whose meaning is unknown but irrelevant to its effect; the ornamental epithet is a word whose meaning is known but is nonetheless irrelevant to its effect (cf. 241). In another essay, from 1933, Parry extends his readings to the problem of the “traditional metaphor in Homer” (phrases such as “watery ways,” “winged words,” “rosy-fingered dawn,” and “silver-footed Thetis”), which then can be taken to reflect back again, in their “typicality,” “the diction as a whole” (370). These are metaphors that essentially are behaving like fixed formulas. They recall nothing so much as “the true fixed metaphor [that] has not existed in English poetry since the days when Anglo-Saxon was spoken” (367) and that was resurrected in the age of Dryden. A further subset are fixed metaphors with no clear meaning: “kavrhna, ‘heads’ for ‘peaks’; a ship ‘running’— e[qeen; a wave ‘howling’—i[ace; a god, ‘standing over’ a city— ajmfibevbhka~,” and so on (373). What these words have in common is that they are not marked as metaphors, and in lacking this mark of metaphoricity they lapse into the common parlance of “simply epic words”—they signify nothing in particular, beyond the fact that they belong to an epic diction. Obscure though not exactly opaque, they tell us that we are in an epic world. That is why they are “traditional”: they show us how oral poetics works—not according to the romantic rules of poetic genius and novelty, but through the anonymous byways of inherited patterns. What they convey is not meaning, but something else: “charm,” “music,” a “mood,” a sense of epic and heroic “nobility,” the “distant and wondrous.” In effect, these are words that have ceased to signify. Their only function is that of connotation, in which they exhaust themselves, meaninglessly. No longer semantic in their own right, they have become what they always were— music: “[Epic] poetry thus approaches music most closely when the words have rather a mood than a meaning. . . . Though the meaning be felt rather than understood it is there. . . . It is an incantation of the heroic” (374–75; italics

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added). Now, traditional metaphors are not opaque glosses of the ornamental epithet category, which express no centrally fixed and identifiable idea. They express an idea, only one that is lost, or rather irrelevant (the way “the formulaic line which expresses the idea ‘at dawn’ always brings in the epithet rJododavktulo~,” which expresses no idea at all).51 In this respect, they are exactly like typical epithet combinations, the standard building block of Homeric diction. But, looking back from the metaphor over to the gloss and then back to the epithet formula where everything began, we can realize how even the fixed epithet captures what is formulaic about Homer’s diction: it conjures up the very fixity, the traditionality, of a living oral tradition itself (cf. 249), and ultimately it isolates nothing more than the inner quality of noble, epic poetry itself—its “quality of ‘propriety,’” which in time tended to minimize, if not eliminate altogether, questions of meaning.52 Parry’s Homer is an oral poet in every sense of the word. Surrounded by sounds and driven by them, “he is led by the habitual movement of his voice to these formulas, . . . guided by his feeling for what there is in common in the sound of . . . a system” of sounds (324). So understood, oral poetry, with its habits of audition (listening for the sound) and its reinforcing of structures of feeling at the expense of sense, not to mention its ideological attractions (nobility, heroic ethos), folds back into the conventional ideology of the classical ideal and all that this entails.53 Parry’s enduring Phidian and Winceklmannian biases are elsewhere transparent.54 His clinging to the improbable notion of Homer’s singular, authentic voice is a further index of his aesthetic and ideological affiliations. We’ve already seen how Parry moves effortlessly from the aberrant to the central, from the opaque to the heroic and the noble. What he has designated, through philological reduction, is a zone of aesthetic enjoyment that, in contrast to the prohibitions on logic and meaning, is directly apprehensible to the reader or listener of Homer. It is a zone that is defined by what could be called

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the materiality of Homer’s voice; what it covers is less a zone of significance than a zone of signifiance that turns out to be utterly characteristic of Homeric poetry and of our experience of it. Parry’s deepest aesthetic insights into Homer are motivated by an attunement to this very feature of epic diction, which is to say its quality of sound and voice, insofar as these are evocative of a “heroic” character (“the quality of epic nobility”). This feature of epic diction is instrumental in producing what we might call an “epic-effect.” One of these effects is Homer himself: the voice of Homer that somehow, despite all the intervening layers of mediation, can be directly heard by us today (“one . . . has the overwhelming feeling that, in some way, he is hearing Homer” [378]). A questionable Homer, to be sure, but it is what Parry’s answer to the Homeric Question is ultimately all about. The poems have a “unity” that can be discovered only once we have grasped “Homer’s idea of style and poetic form,” that is, once we correctly adjust our idea of Homer. Oral theory and poetics are foundational to this understanding (269). Philology here has sanctioned itself with an appeal to traditional aesthetic ideology. It has historicized, we might say, that ideology, by rooting it in an experience that is both our own and definitionally Greek. Science finally beholds itself in a mirror, and like Narcissus is content with what it sees. An ideal scientific object in every sense of the word, Homer is nothing other than the modern idea of what is ancient about antiquity—a thought we can feel, or imagine we feel, but can never really know. notes This essay is preliminary to a longer study in progress. 1. The point is well made by Walter Burkert, “The Making of Homer in the Sixth Century BC: Rhapsodes Versus Stesichorus,” Papers on the Amasis Painter and his World (Malibu 1987), 43. Vergil enjoyed a similar status in the Latin Middle Ages; see Ernst Robert Curtius, European Literature and the Latin Middle Ages, trans. Willard R. Trask (Princeton 1953). 2. oJmhrivdden: yeuvdesqai Hsch. Cf. Arist. Po. 1460a18–19: “Homer has

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taught the rest of the poets how to lie.” 3. At least from its modern inception in Wolf and his immediate successors (see James I. Porter, Nietzsche and the Philology of the Future [Stanford 2000]), if not also earlier. Compare Ulrich von Wilamowitz-Moellendorff, Homerische Untersuchungen (Berlin 1884), 381–83, lamenting the demise of classics under the flood of irrelevant discourses that were swamping the Homeric Question at the time: poetics, Völker-psychology, politics, anthropology, and not least, philology. “Homer is currently not much read as a poet. . . . How many adults still read him for edification? . . . Homer is a force, but one that is exhausted.” “But,” he adds, not without a certain piquancy, at least “the Homeric Question is popular.” Then comes a disparaging parallel, comparing his own day with the spiritually and culturally exhausted era of the Alexandrian scholars. 4. Friedrich Nietzsche, “Homer und die klassische Philologie” [1869], Philologische Schriften 1867–1873 [1982], in Kritische Gesamtausgabe, Werke, ed. Georgio Colli and Mazzino Montinari (Berlin 1967–), 2.1.247–69. 5. Last year through April 2002, a large itinerant exhibition on Troy and its history was mounted in Stuttgart, Braunschweig, and then in Bonn, Germany. See the catalogue volume Troia—Traum und Wirklichkeit, Archäologisches Landesmuseum (Baden-Württemberg 2001) and the archived web-site: http://www.troia.de/. See also Michael Wood’s BBC production (1985) and book (In Search of the Trojan War, revised ed. [Berkeley and Los Angeles 1998]); and finally, the forthcoming Cambridge Companion to Homer, edited by Robert Fowler. Readers of U. S. News online (http://www.usnews.com/usnews/doubleissue/mysteries/quiz.htm) can, as of this writing, take a “Mysteries of History” quiz and try the following question: “3. Who was the first person to doubt that Homer was the single author of The Iliad and The Odyssey? Aristotle; F. A. Wolf; Herodotus; Vico?” For the correct response, see below. 6. See Hes. Op. 90–173e; [Hes.] Ehoeae fr. 204 M-W; Cypria fr. 1 Allen; Schol. Hom. D Il. 1.5; Eur. El. 1282–3, etc.; Wolfgang Kullmann, “Ein Vorhomerisches Motiv im Iliasproömium,” Philologus (1955) 99.167–92; Ruth Scodel, “The Achaean Wall and the Myth of Destruction,” HSCP (1982) 86.33–50; and below on Arist. fr. 162 Rose. Eratosthenes and Apollodorus began their chronographies with the fall of Troy (1184/3); Democritus dated a work of his to “730 years after the capture of Troy” (D. L. 9.41). This symbolic view of history had implications for later poets; see Denis Feeney, “Mea Tempora: Patterning of Time in the Metamorphoses,” Ovidian Transformations: Essays on the Metamorphoses and its Reception. Cambridge Philological Society, Suppl. 23, eds. Philip Hardie, Alessandro Barchiesi, and Stephen Hinds (Cambridge 1999), 13–30 and Giancarlo Mazzoli, “Qualie Praeistorie? Catullo, Lucrezio,” L’Antico degli antichi, eds. Guglielmino Cajani and Diego Lanza (Rome 2001), 133–40. 7. In Leocr. 62, trans. Jebb. 8. Luc. 9.969. 9. One need only glance at the northern Parthenon frieze in Athens, with

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its decorative motifs from the Iliad. For later appropriations, see Froma I. Zeitlin, “Visions and Revisions of Homer,” Being Greek Under Rome: Cultural Identity, the Second Sophistic and the Development of Empire, ed. Simon Goldhill (Cambridge 2001), 195–266. 10. E.g., Walter Leaf, Troy: A Study in Homeric Geography (London 1912), 13; Denys Page, History and the Homeric Iliad (Berkeley 1959). 11. See Kirk, comm. ad loc., subsuming Homer’s ignorance under his “solemnity.” 12. Examples run from Stesichorus to Thucydides to Dio of Prusa. Cf. Aristotle’s comment on the Achaean wall at the ships, which he says never existed, because “the poet who created it [viz., made it up] (plavsa~) destroyed it (hjfavnisen)” (fr. 162 Rose). In this tradition, the wall is plainly emblematic of—literally, a “metaphor” of (cf. metafevrein bouvletai)—the traceless obliteration of Troy itself (see Schol. Hom. Il. bT 7.445 and 12.3–35), but also of the event’s susceptibility to fictional manipulation (cf. the conflation of the two kinds of making, th;n teicomacivan poiei`n with teicopoiiva, etc.). 13. Schol. in Dion. Thrac. 29.16–30.17 Hilgard; Cic. De Or. 3.137; Vit. Hom. 4.13–13. 14. We do occasionally hear of lesser places, some of them mentioned by Homer, that have vanished, e.g., Strab. 8.8.2 (in the effort to verify Homer’s references to three former cities), or Paus. 10.33.8 on Parapotamii, another paradoxical lieu de mémoire. 15. See J. N. Coldstream, “Hero-Cults in the Age of Homer,” JHS (1976) 76:7–17; Anthony Snodgrass, Archaic Greece: The Age of Experiment (Berkeley 1980); S. C. Humphreys, “Death and Time,” Mortality and Immortality: The Anthropology and Archaeology of Death, eds. S. C. Humphreys and H. King (London 1981), 261–83; Carla Antonaccio, “The Archaeology of Ancestors,” Cultural Poetics in Archaic Greece: Cult, Performance, Politics, eds. Carol Dougherty and Leslie Kurke (Cambridge 1998), 46–70. 16. One of his motives would undoubtedly have been to resolve the question of whether Aeneas’ descendants ruled the Troad after the fall of Troy, and if so, where (Scepsis was Demetrius’ preference) and for how long (see Strabo 13.1.52). 17. Cf. Certamen, passim; Athen. 125 D (“risen from the mud”); and A. P. 2.715, an epigram that confesses Homer’s origins to be “unknowable,” while Homer is a godlike hero beyond earthly location. 18. For the term “hypothesis,” see Nietzsche (note 4), 256. 19. Cf. Friedrich Gottlieb Welcker, Der epische Cyclus, oder die homerischen Dichter. 2nd ed., 2 vols. (Bonn 1865), 1.120; M. L. West, “The Invention of Homer,” CQ (1999) 49.2.364–82. 20. Cf. §823: “But this does not make Homer any the less the father and prince of all sublime poets” (Giambattista Vico, The New Science of Giambattista Vico: Translated from the 3d ed., 1744, eds. and trans., Thomas G. Bergin and Max H. Fisch [Ithaca 1948], 281).

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21. Hitchcock in François Truffaut, Hitchcock, with the collaboration of Helen G. Scott (New York 1967), 98–100: the term MacGuffin “might be a Scottish name, taken from a story about two men in a train. One man says, ‘What’s that package up there in the baggage rack?’ And the other answers, ‘Oh, that’s a MacGuffin.’ The first one asks ‘What’s a MacGuffin?’ ‘Well,’ the other man says, ‘it’s an apparatus for trapping lions in the Scottish Highlands.’ The first man says, ‘But there are no lions in the Scottish Highlands,’ and the other one answers, ‘Well then, that’s no MacGuffin!’ So you see, a MacGuffin is nothing at all.” Examples of the MacGuffin in film would be the Maltese Falcon, or the uranium in Notorious (which could have been diamonds), the mistaken identity at the beginning of North by Northwest, or “the little tune of The Lady Vanishes.” According to Hitchcock, the MacGuffin can be ignored as soon as it has served its purpose, but it rarely does this, and instead it tends to become the object of endless fascination, despite its being “empty, nonexistent, and absurd.” See further Slavoj ˛i≈ek, The Sublime Object of Ideology (London 1989), 184. 22. J. P. Mahaffy, “The Site and Antiquity of the Hellenic Ilion.” Journal of Hellenic Studies (1882), 3.69–80, 89. See also page 90: “The traveler . . . has come a long journey into the remoter parts of Europe; he has reached at last what his soul had longed for many years in vain: and as is wont to be the case with all great human longings, the truth does not fulfil his desire.” Sigmund Freud, “A Disturbance of Memory on the Acropolis” [1936], Standard Edition of the Complete Works of Sigmund Freud (London 1964), 22.239–48. I owe Mary Beard the reference to Mahaffy. See now Mary Beard, The Parthenon (London 2002). 23. Wilhelm von Humboldt, Werke in fünf Bänden, eds. Andreas Flitner and Klaus Giel (Darmstadt 1960–81), 2.22; Richard Claverhouse Jebb, Homer: An Introduction to the Iliad and the Odyssey, (6th ed., Boston 1902; 1st ed., 1887), 38: “The Homeric Greek exhibits all the essential characteristics and aptitudes which distinguish his descendant in the historical age,” which is to say the Homeric Greek is in his essence a classical Greek, but only potentially so. 24. Richard Claverhouse Jebb, “Homeric and Hellenic Ilium,” Journal of Hellenic Studies (1881), 2.7–43, 34–35, calling Demetrius’ lost work “one of the most wonderful monuments of scholarly labour which even the indefatigable erudition of the Alexandrian age produced.” 25. Mahaffy (note 22), 78. 26. Leo Deuel, Memoirs of Heinrich Schliemann: A Documentary Portrait Drawn from His Autobiographical Writings, Letters, and Excavation Reports (New York 1977), 204. 27. Richard Claverhouse Jebb, “Homeric Troy,” The Fortnightly Review, n.s. 35 (1 April 1884) 433–52, 436 (citing Troy and its Remains: A Narrative of Researches and discoveries Made of the Site of Ilium, and in the Trojan Plain. By Dr. Henry Schliemann. Tr. with the author’s sanction [London 1875], 18). 28. Richard Claverhouse Jebb, “The Ruins of Hissarlik,” Journal of Hellenic Studies (1883), 4.147–55, 155. Similarly, Eduard Meyer, Geschichte

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von Troas (Leipzig 1877), e.g., 106: “That this [sc., Homer’s] Ilion never once stood on earth is proved beyond refutation by Schliemann’s excavations.” The destruction of the vastly scaled-down historical Ilium necessitated its reconstruction and inflation in the poetic fantasy: whatever truth lay behind the legends, “seeing the ruins in the Homeric age was no longer possible” (108), let alone necessary—one wonders whether Homer’s blindness isn’t a quiet confession of this fact—and “accordingly, the [ancient] claims that [Troy] had completely vanished from the face of the earth were fully justified” (106, n. 1). 29. Deuel (note 26), 210. 30. Richard Claverhouse Jebb, “A Tour in the Troad,” The Fortnightly Review, n.s. 33 (1 January–1 June 1883), 514–29, 520. 31. Cf. Andrew Lang, Homer and His Age (London 1906), 1–14. 32. Francis W. Newman, The Iliad of Homer, Faithfully Translated into Unrhymed English Metre (London 1856), iv; cf. also xvii. 33. Francis W. Newman, Homeric Translation in Theory and Practice: A Reply to Matthew Arnold, Esq., Professor of Poetry, Oxford (London 1861), 30. 34. Matthew Arnold, “On Translating Homer” [1861], The Complete Prose Works of Matthew Arnold, ed. R. H. Super (Ann Arbor 1960–1977), 1.97–216, 142. References to Arnold will henceforth appear parenthetically in the main body of the text. 35. Arnold (note 34), 98, 101, 118, 182. The effect, being general, which is to say a matter of inarticulate feeling, can at the same time have a peculiarity all its own (cf. 105; 128). 36. Arnold (note 34), 98; Newman (note 32), xv–xvi. 37. Newman (note 33), 22; Newman (note 32), xvii; italics added. 38. Newman (note 33), 35–36. 39. Newman (note 33), 35 and 37. 40. Newman (note 32), iv; Newman (note 33), 14, 48, 56, 59, 73; cf. 86, 95, etc. 41. Newman (note 33), 24. 42. Arnold (note 34), 151–53, 193–95; cf. Newman (note 32), xvii. If you detect a slight circularity here, you are not far from wrong: “The modern hexameter is merely an attempt to imitate the effect of the ancient hexameter, as read by us moderns” (198; italics added); cf. Newman (note 33), 6–19; 42. 43. Newman (note 32), xv; Arnold (note 34), 97–98. 44. Following the same logic, a footnote reads: “Our knowledge of Homer’s Greek is hardly such as to enable us to pronounce quite confidently what is idiomatic in his diction, and what is not, any more than in his grammar; but I seem to myself clearly to recognise . . .” Arnold (note 34), 155 n. 1. 45. Arnold (note 34), 109, 205; Newman (note 32), iv.

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46. Wolf had killed Homer, for instance, by arguing that the Iliad was the work of later redactors, but then resurrected him through his philological sensus, by claiming to be able to detect the genuine and original Homeric portions of the poem. Unlike Vico or d’Aubignac, Wolf never denied the historical existence of Homer, a point that Nietzsche was quick to make against him. See Friedrich August Wolf, Prolegomena to Homer, 1795, trans. Anthony Grafton, Glenn W. Most, and James E. G. Zetzel (Princeton 1985), 117 n. 84, rejecting d’Aubignac’s conclusion from 1715, and Wolf’s later review of Vico, “Giambattista Vico über den Homer.” Museum der Alterthums-Wissenschaft (1807), 1:555–70; Nietzsche (note 4), 256. 47. Adam Parry in Milman Parry, The Making of Homeric Verse: The Collected Papers of Milman Parry, ed. Adam Parry (Oxford 1971), li. Henceforth, references to this volume will be by page only. 48. The starting point is doubly odd, in that Parry has difficulties rendering the meaning of the term “gloss” itself, which he finds in Aristotle but not in the sense he wants it to have, while Liddell and Scott’s definition of the term glw`ssa, which refers to Aristotle, is likewise deficient in his view (241). Just when, we might like to ask, do we know what a word means? 49. “To what great antiquity must we assign Homer, if we would suppose that he naturally understood the ornament glosses . . . ? This antiquity it is easy and necessary to accept for his language, but difficult to believe in for himself” (245; cf. 22). 50. Parry (note 47), 171; cf. also, 126–27. 51. “[It] is not being used because of its meaning” (373). It is worth noting that Aristotle would have disagreed: “It makes a difference whether the dawn is called ‘rosy-fingered’ or ‘purple-fingered’” (Rhet. 3.2, 1405b19–10)— but then, Aristotle’s ear was already corrupted by a classical sensibility, Parry would doubtless reply, as he ventures to say elsewhere (cf. esp. 365 and 374). 52. Not surprisingly, this was the gist of Arnold’s view of the epithet too, whose aesthetic terminology (rapidity, nobility, feeling, and the like) Parry closely, and no doubt consciously, parallels. (Parry commends Arnold’s appreciation of Homeric style: 428 n. 47; cf. 172, 250, 306, etc.) Interestingly enough, the debate between Arnold and Newman often seems to gravitate toward the question of how to understand and render the fixed epithet (Arnold [note 34], 183; Newman [note 33], 63, 86). More could be said here, but suffice it to say that Parry’s view of the epithet owes a good deal to this Victorian quarrel, and on both sides of that debate. 53. See James I. Porter, “Feeling Classical: Classicism and Ancient Literary Criticism,” forthcoming. 54. xxiv–xxv; 417; 424–25; 427; 431.

Homer

the classicizing card that trumped all others: sublimation, by claiming that “it is ..... See Kirk, comm. ad loc., subsuming Homer's ignorance under his. “solemnity.”.

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