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Oral Tradition and its Implications

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Chapter Summary

This chapter focuses on the modern rediscovery of ancient Greek oral tradition and its implications for the study of Homeric epic. It concerns not only with the demonstration of the poems' oral traditional nature, an interesting and important phenomenon in itself, but more fundamentally with the question 'So what?' If Homeric verse emerges from an unwritten art of poetry and is committed to text only quite late in its development, how does this cultural, historical, and technological circumstance affect the way we read the Iliad and Odyssey? The chapter consists of four sections: i) a brief history of the early research conducted by Milman Parry and Albert Lord; ii) a sketch of the most prominent features of the so called Oral Theory; iii) significant replies to and revisions in the Theory; and iv) the implications of oral tradition for Homer's art.

Keywords: ancient Greek; Homeric epic; Iliad; Odyssey; Oral Theory; oral tradition



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