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The Homeric Hymns

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Chapter Summary

The Homeric Hymns consist of a heterogeneous collection of 33 hexameter poems, composed in the epic Kunstsprache, and dedicated to divinities. As the Hymns offer little in the way of solid internal evidence for their dates or provenance, in the hope of discovering objective dating criteria, scholars have turned to linguistic evidence to determine the relation especially of the four major Hymns to Homer and the Hesiodic corpus. As with Homer, the main approaches have been quantitative: having ascertained a statistical measurement of formulaic density in the Iliad and the Odyssey, one then compares it to figures reached by the same criteria from, for the most part, the longer Hymns. The opening and closing formulas are among the most characteristic features of the Hymns. Viewed as derivative, the four major Hymns long languished in the shadow of Homer, and scholarship on the Hymns inevitably followed the trends of Homeric criticism.

Keywords: Hesiodic corpus; hexameter poems; Homeric Hymns; Iliad; Kunstsprache; Odyssey



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