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uni'wissen 01-2012_ENG

­unchanged verses in each individual case in ­order to ensure that her changes remain within the bounds of the traditional poetic language. This would not have been such an easy task ­before the Digital Age: “I have the advantage of being able to search through Homer’s text ­electronically.” Linguistic Breaks Explained by Content However, the argumentation is only convinc­ ing when the linguistic breaks between the old and new passages can be justified by the con­ tent. In addition, she has to make sure the ­results of her work do not contradict the findings of ­reliable methods of dating text, for instance ­archaeological finds. Her previous work has ­adhered to both of these criteria, says Tichy. One example is the boar’s tooth helmet of Meriones in the tenth book of the Iliad: This type of helmet is Mycenaean. The most recent known copy was found in a grave from the 10th century before Christ. The description is so detailed that it is highly probable that the person who originally wrote it had seen such an object himself. Indeed, the lines including this description are easy to convert back into epic 15-syllable verses and may thus be classified as old – whereas the ­preceding and following lines are not. “This is thus an old passage that was integrated into a new textual environment.” A counterexample is Old helmet, old verses: The description of a boar’s tooth helmet in the Iliad provides a good example of how the poet integrated passages from the oral ­tradition into a new textual environment. Photo: Wikipedia Commons becomes transparent, like a sheet of glass over an archaeological excavation: You can walk over it and still see what lies below.” Reconstructing the Original Verse Form The Norwegian Greek philologist Nils Berg set the stage for Tichy’s work in 1978 with his hypoth­ esis on the origin of the hexameter. The hexam­ eter, the meter of the Iliad, is made up of 14 to 17 syllables arranged in sequences of long and short in accordance with strict rules. Berg views the hexameter as an innovation and attributes it to the Ionic dialect of Homer. He argues that it developed out of a 15-syllable, metrically freer verse from the Aeolic phase of the early Greek epic poem, which preceded the Ionic phase. ­Tichy applies this hypothesis to the Iliad: “Homer or one of his predecessors adopted passages written in the older 15-syllable verse and con­ verted them into Ionic hexameters.” It thus ­follows that linguistically old lines of the Iliad that can still be read as epic 15-syllable verses or that can be brought into this form with only minor changes can or must be old. On the other hand, all lines that cannot be converted back into the older verse form are probably newer lines that were written in hexameters from the beginning and were penned by Homer himself. In order to test her hypothesis, Tichy is trying to reconstruct the older verses in the text with as few changes as possible. In other words, she is undoing the metric adjustments to the verses that she believes Homer to have once made him­ self in order to make them into hexameters. For example, she shortens syllables from metrically elongated word forms and eliminates ­particles or pronouns if they don’t contribute anything to the content or are maybe even located at the wrong position in the sentence. Or she exchanges ­metrical variants and replaces newer Ionic forms or non-grammatical forms by their ­older, regular counterparts. She searches for ­parallels in 6