Klejn L.S. The Anatomy of the Iliad (Abstract)
Publ. in Russian 1998 by St. Petersburg University
By Leo S. Klejn
This book (Published by St.Petersburg University, in 1998) is the outcome of many years of study. The results of these studies were published previously, in part, as articles in the leading Russian journals in classical and oriental studies. It introduces a fundamental revision of the established view of the Homeric epic. In the journal ‘Narody Azii i Afriki’ the eminent orientalist I. M. Dyakonov wrote as follows:
"In my opinion to refute L.S. Klejn's work is built so that it in full would be very difficult, and even corrections of a cardinal character if any seem not likely. Klejn's theory will undoubtedly spawn a vast literature… It cannot be excluded that Klejn's studies if taken in their full amount will mean the beginning of a new epoch in Homeric studies" (1997, 2, p. 210 – 211).
The book is devoted to the structure and origin of the Iliad. The author's attitude to the text is as to a historical record: thus he has applied the same methodology as was once use to analyse the Bible, wherein the Bible was divided into its separate components Biblical critics had noted that in the Bible although certain stories were repeated, in these repetitions the name of God changes – sometimes he is Yahweh, at other times Elohim. The inference was drawn that these were different components, drawn from different sources. Strange as it seems, nobody had ever applied this methodology to the Iliad. In the spirit of the present time the author has supplemented this methodology with statistical analysis.
A comprehensive statistical analysis of the text has led the author to conclude that the German scholars of the 19th century were correct and that the epic was composed by fusing previously separate poems of different origins. Homeric studies at present are dominated by "unitarians" (scholars who defend the essential unity of the text and ascribe its individual authorship to Homer). The position of ‘analytics’ (the opposite position, to which the author of the present book subscribes) was long ago rejected, in particular on the basis of statistics. However the author too applied statistical analysis - not mechanically, but in the conjunction with a more traditional methodology (the methodology of ‘biblical criticism’).
The author has traced the distribution of synonymous names in the Iliad: toponyms, ethnonyms and the personal names of gods and heroes (Ilios – Troy, Scamandros – Xanthos, Achaeans – Danaans – Argiveans, Alexandre – Paris) as well as other synonyms (prepositions, particles). It appears that they are distributed unevenly, and there are correlations in their distribution. There is a noticeable correlation between each one of a certain group of synonymous names and a certain other group of epithets. It is also noticeable that there is a pattern to the distribution of synonyms: certain pairs and triads of synonyms are concentrated in certain parts of the epic; whilst other (different) pairs and triads are found concentrated in other parts. On the basis of these facts the author came to the conclusion that the Iliad is composed from a several components, each of different origin and age.
The heroes are themselves distributed unevenly (where Achilles appears, Diomedes disappears) and often perform the same deeds (Achilles and Diomedes are even wounded in the same spot – in the heel; in some sense they duplicate each other!). As the distribution of language components coincides with the distribution of plot components, it is possible to reconstruct the poem’s composition. Different original poems on the conquest of Ilios are reconstructed. According to the author's conclusion the poem was formed by the fusion of six main components recognisable inter alia by the different names given to the Greek heroes. To be specific, there probably existed "Achaean" and "Danaan" songs with Achilles as the main hero, and "Argivean" songs centred on Diomedes and Achilles. The most ancient component (and the most folkloric) was centred on Ajax, and was included into the poem separately. The latest addition centred on Aeneas is also distinguishable - the Homeric Aeneid.
Once the separate original poems are identified, their independent analysis becomes possible – the analysis of their composition, origins, and dating. A considerable part of this monograph is devoted to the description and characterisation of these components, to the end of determining their age and place of origin. To this end archaeological data are also used. A new location is proposed for the site of Troy - Ilios remains where it is traditionally sited, but Troy, according to Hittite records, was a separate place.
The historicity of the narrator (Homer?) is not rejected, but his role in the creation of the poem's text is somewhat reduced – it is manifest only in the latest stage of the formation of the text. The main creators lived earlier.
The author has already published a book on the Iliad – Incorporeal Heroes (1994). That book focused upon the origins of each of the main heroes of the Iliad. The present book focuses upon demonstrating the compound character of poem and restoring the outlines of the original texts.
The book is intended for classicists, philologists, historians and classical archaeologists. It contains ca. 560 pages of small print, and a large number of statistical tables and maps; ca. 40 illustrations on separate pages. Following the book’s publication a discussion ensued in the Moscow Journal Vestnik Drevney Istorii (The Herald of Ancient History): this is appended to the present edition.
From the author
Introduction. The Homeric question: methodology and prospect
Chapter I. Ilios and Troy
Ch. II. Achaeans, Danaans and Argiveans
Chapter III. The Correlation of synonyms in the “Iliad”
Chapter IV. The ‘Danaan’ component of the Iliad
Chapter V. The ‘Achaean’ books of the Iliad
Chapter VI. The most ancient books of the Iliad
Chapter VII. Both Ajaxes
Chapter VIII. The distinctive ‘Achaean’ ‘Achilleid’ and the framing of the Iliad
Chapter IX. The core of the ‘Achaean’ ‘Achilleid’
Chapter X. Achilles: the changing image
Chapter XI. The books glorifying ‘Argiveans’
Chapter XII. The Homeric Aeneid
The list of illustrations
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