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The Philologist Game

Reconstructing Homeric Tradition

Chiara Bozzone

on 19 April 2016

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Transcript of The Philologist Game

How did the text of the Iliad end up into your hands?
The tradition of Homer
Oral tradition
Written Tradition
Oral composition
Writing Down
Alexandria Edition
Medieval Tradition
Modern Edition
You are Homer, an oral poet.
Epic Verse for you is a second language.
You know all the stories passed down
by singers before you.
For your public, you compose verses
about traditional stories, on the spot, by request
You are a rhapsode.
Your job is to go around Greece performing "Homer's verses".
You have heard the verses second-hand;
you try to transmit them as faithfully as possible.
You are a Greek city
You decide it would be cool to have
the text of Homer's verses recorded in writing.
You find a good rhapsode and have somebody transcribe what he sings.
At this point more copies of your original copy can be made
You are Photius, patriarch of Byzantium.
You are a book lover and want to make sure that all important books are passed down to the next generation
You have your employees copy the text of Homer into minuscule, with spaces and accents, to make it more readable.
You are a medieval monk.
Your job, beyond praying, is to copy old manuscripts -sometimes in languages you don't understand
Sometimes the book you are copying from is damaged
Sometimes you make mistakes
Sometimes you think you can correct mistakes in the text, and improve it.
You are a modern Philologist
You have collected all the manuscripts of the text of Homer you can find
Using a scientific method, you establish the FAMILY TREE of the manuscripts.
Using the family tree, you try to establish, word by word, what the original text must have been.
Ideally, you try to recover the text as Homer has composed it: more likely, you try to reconstruct what the first edition (in Alexandria) must have been like.
You are somebody that knows Greek.
Ideally (not necessarily), you are a philologist.
You have to make Homer accessible to a public that does not know Greek.
What do you do?
You are a Philologist.
It is your job to collect texts for the library of Alexandria.
You buy the best copies of Homer you can find, all around Greece.
Out of comparing all the copies you have, you make ONE definitive version: THE edition of Homer
You also worry about understanding difficult passages of Homer, and you write commentaries.
A philologist is somebody that "cares for words".
He is normally a specialist of a given language and literature, and he worries about the preservation and transmission of a text.
A philologist will study everything that will help him understanding the text and its transmission.
What is a Philologist?
Key Terminology
Thersites is kakos.
Hector is agathos.
Achilles is the aristos of the Acheans.
Heros want to gain kleos trough their actions.
The Acheans owe time to Agamemnon, their leader.
Each hero can have a different arete, and still be valuable to the army
Briseis was the geras of Achilles.
The Iliad is a poem about phthisis.
The wrath sing, o goddess, of Peleus' son, Achilles,
ruinous, which brought countless pains upon the Achaeans,
and threw into Hades many strong souls
of heroes,
Sing, Goddess, Achilles' rage,
Black and murderous, that cost the Greeks
Incalculable pain, pitched countless souls
Of heroes into Hades' dark.
Free Translation
Literal Translation
Critical Apparatus
Families of Manuscripts
Original Text
How much can we draw a line between 1 and 2?
this is the Venetus A, our most important manuscript of the Iliad, copied in the X cent. CE.
This image shows the beginning of Il. book II., lines 1-10.
This is another image of the Venetus A codex, showing the commentary surrounding the text. Book II, lines: 263-273
Full transcript