Homer the Classic

  Nagy, Gregory. 2008. Homer the Classic. Hellenic Studies Series 36. Washington, DC: Center for Hellenic Studies. http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:hul.ebook:CHS_Nagy.Homer_the_Classic.2008.


Cⓢ1. Five centuries of Homeric transmission

C§1. I propose to outline here the overall chronology of Homeric transmission as I have reconstructed it in this book. The basis for my overall reconstruction is the Homeric Koine, which I have equated with the Panathenaic Homer in the era of the Athenian democracy. This Koine was relatively unaugmented. To be contrasted is the Homerus Auctus, which I have defined as an augmented or expanded Homer. As I showed in Chapters 2 and 3, the themes that differentiate the poetry of the Homerus Auctus from the poetry of the Homeric Koine are characteristic of Cyclic, Orphic, and Hesiodic traditions. As I also showed, these traditions are pre-Homeric – that is, if we define pre-Homeric in terms of earlier periods when the Cyclic, Orphic, and Hesiodic traditions were as yet undifferentiated from what later became the Homeric tradition. In other words, the Cyclic, Hesiodic, and Orphic variants of the Homerus Auctus predate the Homeric Koine. I reconstruct a succession of five phases corresponding roughly to five successive centuries:

Phase A. The augmented Homer or Homerus Auctus took shape in an era that preceded the fifth century BCE. This version of Homer may be considered Panathenaic, but only in terms of the sixth century BCE. This phase is reconstructed in the twin book Homer the Preclassic.
Phase B (as introduced in Chapter 4). The Homerus Auctus was ultimately replaced as the Panathenaic Homer by an unaugmented Homer in the era of the democracy in the fifth century BCE. This new Panathenaic Homer is what I have been calling the Homeric Koine.
Phase C (as introduced in Chapter 3). The Homeric Koine persisted as the Panathenaic Homer into the age of Plato, in the fourth century BCE.
Phase D (as introduced in Chapter 2). The Homerus Auctus resurfaced, but not as a Panathenaic Homer, in the later age of Callimachus, in the third century BCE. {589|590}
Phase E (as introduced in Chapter 1). The Homerus Auctus was suppressed and replaced by the unaugmented Homeric Koine in the still later age of Aristarchus in the second century BCE. This unaugmented Koine of Homer, as edited by Aristarchus, was no longer simply a Panathenaic Homer. In editing the unaugmented Homer, Aristarchus reported in his commentaries a mass of non-Koine variants that had gone unreported in earlier editions of the unaugmented Koine of Homer, and many of these non-Koine variants eventually infiltrated the textual transmission of the unaugmented Homer.

C§2. In the age of Plato, the Athenian Koine was the dominant version of Homer. Later on, in the age of Callimachus, the Homerus Auctus became the dominant version – so much so that I never needed to use the word koinē in Chapter 2, which I devote to that later age. Still later, in the age of Aristarchus, the Athenian Koine became once again the dominant version of Homer.

C§3. What I just said about the age of Aristarchus is a one-sided formulation, however. In order to show the other side, I highlight a basic fact. The age of Aristarchus, director of the Library in Alexandria, was also the age of Crates, director of the Library in Pergamon. And while the base text of Homer used by Aristarchus was the Athenian Koine, the base text used by Crates was the Homerus Auctus.

Cⓢ2. An example of significant differences in theme between the Koine and the Homerus Auctus

C§4. There is a reference made by Callimachus to Scheria, the mythical island of the Phaeacians in the Odyssey. In his poetry, Callimachus equated this mythical place with a historical place, the island of Corcyra (Aetia Book 1 F 12, 13, 15). In making this equation, he was following a traditional theme already known to Thucydides, who says explicitly that the people of Corcyra claimed to