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Klassische Philologie

Homer and oral tradition: a view from the ancient Near East

Förderungsbeginn: April 2018

The ancient Near Eastern roots of the Classical literary tradition have long generated enormous interest among scholars. Yet important questions and considerable disagreement surround the mechanisms of transmission (if any) and the significance of comparative readings. My current research at LMU centres on Babylonian (Akkadian) and early Greek poetic formulae and typical scenes, both usually conceived as potential signs of orally-derived poetry. In the Near East as in Greece, the conservative features of traditional narrative poetry show the unmistakable marks of oral recitation and aural reception. The importance of this fact for the question of transmission is well known, but no detailed attempt has yet been made to compare the traditional, and possibly orally-derived, texture of any ancient Near Eastern corpus to the early Greek one. By virtue of the different, though not unrelated, problems confronted by Assyriologists and Homerists, this research seeks to cast new light on the composition, performance and reception of Babylonian and early Greek epic poetry, and on the historical relation between Greek epic and the preceding literary traditions of the ancient Near East.