Homeric Nēpios

  Use the following persistent identifier: http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:hul.ebook:CHS_EdmundsS.Homeric_Nepios.1990.

Preface to the Edition of 1990

This study was written in 1975–76 as my doctoral dissertation. In preparing it for publication 13 years later, I made such revisions as seem to me to render the text clearer and more readable. This new edition does not, however, incorporate recent work on the Homeric poems or new ways of thinking about semantic problems.

My object was to develop an understanding of some part of Homeric vocabulary through close attention to the Homeric language. I proceeded on the assumption that the Iliad and Odyssey are meaningful unities as we have them and that (supplemented by the texts of the Homeric Hymns and the Hesiodic corpus) they can be treated as a language—that is, a system in which words and groups of words have meaning in relation to other words and groups of words within the same system.

Chapter One sets forth the problem that was my starting point: that the traditional definition of nēpios (“child,” and, metaphorically, “childish,” or “foolish”) does not provide a totally satisfactory explanation of its meaning in the Homeric poems. Chapter Two discusses contexts of ēpios, a word that may be a positive expression in Homeric Greek of a root of which nēpios is the negative. Chapter Three contains my analysis of the contexts of nēpios that include children, and Chapter Four covers contexts where adults are called nēpios. Despite this distinction (between children and adults), I argue that the word can be understood as having a single sense in the Homeric poems, whether it is applied to adults or children.


Note: For this electronic edition, I have corrected whatever errors in the text I was able to find. Otherwise, it is not changed from the edition that appeared in the series Harvard Dissertations in the Classics, edited by Gregory Nagy and published by Garland Press in 1990.


[ back ] 1. Prendergast, GL. A Complete Concordance to the Iliad of Homer, New edition by B. Marzuilo, Darmstadt 1962; and Dunbar, H. A Complete Concordance to the Odyssey of Homer, New edition by B. Marzuilo, Darmstadt 1962.

[ back ] 2. Thanks are also due to Michael Connelly of Boston College for the use of the type fonts “Library” and “ΣΜΗΡΝA” (Smyrna).