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Eastern Literacy, Greek Alphabet, and Homer

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image of Mnemosyne

The still ongoing discussion about the question as to when the Homeric poems were recorded in writing is paradoxical, considering that Milman Parry did not present a clear idea of this issue, while Albert Lord declared his unequivocal opinion that Homer himself dictated them. The notion of a long period of oral transmission until they were finally recorded in the Pisistratean recension can be seen as a continuation of the old 'analyst' theory. It is now time to abandon this theory, seeing that the evidence in favour of recording in the eighth century has become increasingly stronger in recent decades. Three contemporary factors in that century together form decisive evidence indicating that the recording happened at that time, (1) the intense influence of Eastern culture, not least the influence of literacy, (2) the newly invented Greek alphabet, and (3) the appearance of the genius of Homer.


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