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uni'wissen 01-2012_ENG

The language of the Iliad is a mixed bag. The epic poem about the Trojan War contains ­older and newer forms, often within one and the same line. “Linguistic phenomena of the 8th cen­ tury before Christ are interspersed so evenly throughout the text that you can hardly find a passage of 30 lines or more that could have been written in the 10th century or earlier in its entirety,” says Eva Tichy, professor of Indo-Euro­ pean linguistics at the University of Freiburg. Philologists have been trying to determine how older and newer passages are distributed throughout the text of the Iliad for a long time – not least in order to establish the extent of ­Homer’s own contribution to the poem. After four years analyzing the text, Eva Tichy is certain she has found the answers. Tichy’s approach combines two major research traditions. The analytical tradition views Homer as the author of an original version of the Iliad that drew on verse from oral tradition and was later expanded upon by others. The unitary tradi­ tion, on the other hand, sees him as the ­author of the final written version, which was based on ­material but not actual verse from earlier centuries. Tichy adopts the view of the unitary tradition that the entire poem was written by Homer but also ­delivers an analysis of the text that shows how he combined his own new material with traditional verse material in the poem. “In this way the text “Homer or one of his predecessors ­adopted passages written in the older 15-syllable verse and converted them into Ionic hexameters” Departure of a warrior: Typical scenes like this were used in the oral tradition of ancient poetry again and again. The picture shows the fragment of an amphora made around 460 BC in Athens, Greece, or in the immediate surroundings of the city. Photo: Zahn/Archaeological Collection 5