Some Aspects of the Homerkritik in Ancient Literary Tradition
The origins of the ancient Homeric criticism are found in the era of the flourishing of archaic Greek lyric. The archaic poets perceived mythological tradition through the prism of the works of Homer and the authors of the Epic Cycle; while expressing admiration of the art of epic poetry, they also formulated two objections. They questioned the ethics of the portrayal of the Homeric gods as burdened by many moral flaws (Xenophanes), and voiced early doubts about the trustworthiness of the poetic message (Solon, Pindar). The beginnings of historiography brought the development of the Homeric criticism which concentrated on factual content. As historians rationally evaluating the reliability of their sources, Herodotus and Thucydides expressed doubts about the accuracy of the Homeric narrative. Around the middle of the third century B.C., works started to appear that ‘corrected’ Homer. While varied in form and content, such works all belong in the rather substantial category of ancient Schwindelliteratur. A specific tradition of Homer-correction on the subject of the Trojan war grew out of the early ‘Trojan monographs’ by Hellanicus of Lesbos and others, and evolved into entirely pseudepigraphic renditions; the first one was Troika, authored by Hegesianax of Alexandria under the name of Kephalon of Gergis. The Second Sophistic writers broadened ]Homeric criticism by introducing elements of parody, rhetorical flourish, and intellectual games, seen in such works as Trojan Oration (Or. XI) by Dio Chrysostom, the dialog Oneiros ē alektryōn by Lucian of Samosata, and Herōikós by Philostratus. A...
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