Rhythm without Beat: Prosodically Motivated Grammarisation in Homer

  Use the following persistent identifier: http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:hul.ebook:CHS_BlankenborgR.Rhythm_without_Beat.2014.


Rhythm Without Beat originally appeared in 2014 as a preliminary study to my thesis Audible Punctuation: Performative Pause in Homeric Prosody, which was defended in 2015. Rhythm Without Beat started from the notion of poetically effective enjambment, and questions the relevance of the verse as the rhythmical, syntactical, and performative unity. It provides arguments and evidence against the widely accepted notion of the single verse as a grammatical whole, and as the preferred compositional building block. The contribution of the single verse to the repetitiveness of metrical and rhythmical recurrence in the Homeric epic is shown to be less significant – in favor of a more loose clause model, and more prose-like composition. Rhythm Without Beat suggests that the phonetic and prosodic circumstances at verse end in the Iliad and Odyssey not only allow for unhindered clause development, but actually elicit such ‘syntactualisation’. As the study showed that phonology provides clues for the reconstruction of Homeric phonetics, emphasis shifted to the intuition for the rhythmical phrase and its boundaries. Audible Punctuation followed up on these boundaries, and establishes the pause in performance as a phonetic pause: word end in a sandhi-free syllable.

My appointment as visiting scholar 2017-2018 at the Center for Hellenic Studies (Harvard University) in Washington brought me into contact with its director Gregory Nagy, who encouraged me to reissue Audible Punctuation in the CHS Hellenic Studies series, together with a reissue of Rhythm Without Beat. The latter study has remained unaltered: large parts of Rhythm Without Beat still make a reappearance in Audible Punctuation. Other sections and chapters only appear in Rhythm Without Beat, but are well worth the attention of readers who have read Audible Punctuation and remain interested in the background of the study of Homeric prosody, and its consequences for the analysis of Homeric syntax and semantics.

Many have contributed to the publication of Rhythm Without Beat. I am grateful to Gregory Nagy who made me cross a threshold that has kept me back too long. I am also grateful to his staff at the Centre for Hellenic Studies for helping me prepare the manuscript for publication: Leonard Muellner, Casey Due Hackney, and Jill Curry Robbins. Andre Lardinois and Joel B. Lidov provided valuable guidance, corrections and suggestions, as have Egbert J. Bakker, Marc van den Poel, Ineke Sluiter, and Mark Janse. I thank my colleagues at Radboud University Nijmegen, especially Ton Kessels, Willeon Slenders, Floris Overduin, Claire Stocks, and Vincent Hunink. The Dutch school for Classical Studies, OIKOS, has enabled me to participate in conferences abroad. Colleagues at school who have been very helpful were Liset van Heeringen, Karin Visser, and Joep de Keyzer. I cannot even start to list all the students, both in the gymnasia and at Radboud University, who have contributed to Rhythm Without Beat, but I am nonetheless very grateful for all their opinions and criticism.

My family has always been my greatest support: thank you, Rachel, Lysander, Bente, Revelin, and Liv—you, Rachel, most of all, as Rhythm Without Beat would not have been published at all if it had not been for you.

RB June 2018