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Re: [Synoptic-L] Explanations for Orality

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  • LeeEdgarTyler@aol.com
    In a message dated 11/12/2004 8:41:06 AM Central Standard Time, poirier@siscom.net writes: ... Wow--if that s the case, it would certainly be a blow against
    Message 1 of 4 , Nov 12, 2004
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      In a message dated 11/12/2004 8:41:06 AM Central Standard Time, poirier@... writes:
      E Bruce Brooks wrote:

      > As for "orality," one of the ironies in the situation is that the home
      > field seems to have abandoned it, or so I take to be the paradigm meaning
      > of M L West's new edition of the Iliad, which flatly takes Homer's text
      > as written down from the outset. I have now and then admonished my
      > colleagues for letting Sinology become a dumping ground for theories
      > which have proved their disworth in their home territory, whether literary
      > or mathematical, but so far without noticeably diminishing their
      > enthusiasm for those theories.

      Wow--if that's the case, it would certainly be a blow against the orality
      paradigm.

      I wonder who's carrying the Parry/Lord torch today in Homer studies (perhaps
      Nagy)?  It might be worthwhile to see if the Parry/Lord disciples have
      recently had to adopt a defensive posture, as that might provide a look into
      the state of the question within Homer studies.


      John C. Poirier
      Middletown, Ohio
      One of the primary proponents of the study of orality in Homer is John Miles Foley, of the University of Missouri's Center for Studies in Oral Tradition.  Greg Nagy is of course another major figure.  I would also call attention to the work of Francelia Clark, David Bynum, and John D. Niles.
       
      There is little to recommend the notion that either the Iliad or the Odyssey are without oral roots, since both contain material that unquestionably predates Greek literacy.  Also, the nature of the Greek decasyllable formula is such that its development cannot be explained by recourse to literate composition.  It is not, however, out of line to suggest that the texts of the Homeric epics as we have them were composed in writing, because literate modes of composition take a long time to develop.  In other words, for a considerable time after a culture develops literacy, its poets continue to compose in the oral modes that were in place before that development.  The aesthetics of orality persist in written traditions.
       
      For more on this subject, I would recommend three books by Foley: Oral Traditional Epic; Immanent Art; and Homer's Traditional Art.  The posture of proponents of orality in Homeric studies is anything but defensive; however, few scholars today accept Parry's direct correspondence between the Homeric epics and the South-Slavic oral epics.  Parry was correct in his observations, but did not develop the complexities of the issue completely.  Of course, he died young.  Lord's appreciation of these complexities grew over time, and it is unfortunate that most contemporary criticism of the oral theory in Homeric studies still concentrates on scholarship that is 45 years old (Lord's Singer of Tales) or more. 
       
      E Tyler
    • Charles Miller
      For some dissenting views about the early demise of oral studies in relationship to Greek poetry, etc., there is the following:
      Message 2 of 4 , Nov 12, 2004
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        For some dissenting views about the early demise of oral studies in
        relationship to Greek poetry, etc., there is the following:

        http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/bmcr/2004/2004-09-44.html

        Charles David Miller
        ADEP
        College of St. Scholastica

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