The Text of Hesiod's Theogony and the Hittite _Epic of Kumarbi_

Classical Quarterly 6 (3-4):198- (1956)
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Hesiod is among the most difficult Greek poets for problems of text. This is especially true in the case of the Theogony. Today we consider an over-scrupulous analysis of the logical consistency of a text a characteristic of nineteenth-century pedantry. Yet such latitude is not always allowed the Theogony. It was only twenty-five years ago that there appeared the most ruthless survey of its contents. This was Jacoby's edition of 1930, when only a mutilated remnant of the surviving text was left the original poet; the rest was added by a whole series of subsequent rhapsodes. Hesiod received very much the same treatment four years later from Schwenn. Recently, however, two developments have gone a long way towards the defence of passages excluded by scholars from what they think the authentic text of Hesiod's Theogony. Many single lines or groups of verses have been bracketed by the editors of Hesiod, since they reproduce some other part of the poem in a similar or even identical form. The researches of the Dutch scholar Otterlo have now revealed that the fault is rather that of these editors. When they stigmatize the passages with the description of aimless repetition, they fail to appreciate what Otterlo claims as an inherent principle of oral recitation, or literature derived from an oral prototype. Otterlo's term for what would be an essential feature of this literature is ring-composition. A rhapsode provides a loose unity for his poem by repeating at the conclusion to the sections of the poem the verses which also introduced them. These repetitive verses announce the beginning and then the end of each section. We are wrong if we think that they have only been transferred from their original place in the poem to some later passage because there has been a lack of proper care in the process of transmission. Certainly this repetition is no adequate reason for us to suppose their occurence a second time in our text spurious



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The origins of the Greek lexicon: Ex Oriente Lux.Oswald Szemerényi - 1974 - Journal of Hellenic Studies 94:144-157.

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