A challenging and fascinating enquiry into the genesis of alphabetic writing.
What caused the invention of the Greek alphabet? Who did it, and why? The purpose of this challenging book is to inquire systematically into the historical causes that underlay the radical shift from earlier and less efficient writing systems to the use of alphabetic writing. The author declares his conclusion to be a possibly surprising one--that a single man, perhaps from the island of Euboea, invented the Greek alphabet specifically in order to record the Iliad and the Odyssey of Homer.
Greek Writing from Knossos to Homer examines the origin of the Greek alphabet. Departing from previous accounts, Roger Woodard places the advent of the alphabet within an unbroken continuum of Greek literacy beginning in the Mycenean era. He argues that the creators of the Greek alphabet, who adapted the Phoenician consonantal script, were scribes accustomed to writing Greek with the syllabic script of Cyprus. Certain characteristic features of the Cypriot script--for example, its strategy for representing consonant sequences and elements of Cypriot Greek phonology--were transferred to the new alphabetic script. Proposing a Cypriot origin of the alphabet at the hands of previously literate adapters brings clarity to various problems of the alphabet, such as the Greek use of the Phoenician sibilant letters. The alphabet, rejected by the post- Bronze Age "Mycenaean" culture of Cyprus, was exported west to the Aegean, where it gained a foothold among a then illiterate Greek people emerging from the Dark Age.
Professor Powell ties the origin and nature of archaic Greek literature to the special technology of Greek alphabetic writing. In building his model he presents chapters on specialized topics - text, orality, myth, literacy, tradition and memorization - and then shows how such special topics relate to larger issues of cultural transmission from East to West. Several chapters are devoted to the theory and history of writing, its definition and general nature as well as such individual developments as semasiography and logosyllabography, Chinese writing and the West Semitic family of syllabaries. He shows how the Greek alphabet put an end to the multiliteralism of Eastern traditions of writing, and how the recording of Homer and other early epic poetry cannot be separated from the alphabetic revolution. Finally, he explains how the creation of Greek alphabetic texts demoticized Greek myth and encouraged many free creations of new myths based on Eastern images.
Author: Barry B. Powell
Publisher: John Wiley & Sons
Writing: Theory and History of the Technology of Civilization traces the origins of writing tied to speech from ancient Sumer through the Greek alphabet and beyond. Examines the earliest evidence for writing in Mesopotamia in the fourth millennium BC, the origins of purely phonographic systems, and the mystery of alphabetic writing Includes discussions of Ancient Egyptian,Chinese, and Mayan writing Shows how the structures of writing served and do serve social needs and in turn create patterns of social behavior Clarifies the argument with many illustrations
This volume is the first English-language survey of Homeric studies to appear for more than a generation, and the first such work to attempt to cover all fields comprehensively. Thirty leading scholars from Europe and America provide short, authoritative overviews of the state of knowledge and current controversies in the many specialist divisions in Homeric studies. The chapters pay equal attention to literary, mythological, linguistic, historical, and archaeological topics, ranging from such long-established problems as the "Homeric Question" to newer issues like the relevance of narratology and computer-assisted quantification. The collection, the third publication in Brill's handbook series, "The Classical Tradition," will be valuable at every level of study - from the general student of literature to the Homeric specialist seeking a general understanding of the latest developments across the whole range of Homeric scholarship.
Author: Barry B. Powell
This concise book is a complete and contemporary introduction to Homer and his two master-works, the Iliad and the Odyssey. It explains the “Homeric Question,” illuminating its current status, and critiques the literary qualities of the Iliad and the Odyssey, analyzing and contrasting their plotting, narrative technique, and characterization. Provides historical background and literary readings of The Iliad and The Odyssey New to the second edition: a section on Homer’s reception in ancient Greece; a chapter on Homer and archaeology; additional maps; an updated bibliography; a glossary of key terms; and information on the oral composition of the poems Text is updated throughout Assumes no prior knowledge of Greek
Author: Ian Morris, Barry B. Powell
Publisher: Pearson College Division
Organized chronologically, this text presents a complete picture of Greek civilization as a history and features sections on the art, architecture, literature, and thought of each period.
From the sixth through the fourth centuries BCE, the landmark developments of Greek culture and the critical works of Greek thought and literature were accompanied by an explosive growth in the use of written texts. By the close of the classical period, a new culture of literacy and textuality had come into existence alongside the traditional practices of live oral discourse. New avenues for human activity and creativity arose in this period. The very creation of the 'classical' and the perennial use of Greece by later European civilizations as a source of knowledge and inspiration would not have taken place without the textual innovations of the classical period. This book considers how writing, reading and disseminating texts led to new ways of thinking and new forms of expression and behaviour. The individual chapters cover a range of phenomena, including poetry, science, religions, philosophy, history, law and learning.
Alpha to Omega
Author: Alexander Humez, Nicholas D. Humez
Publisher: David R Godine Pub
In the first offering of this beloved duo, the Humez brothers take on the twenty-four letters of the Greek alphabet (plus those elusive "dead letters"), and through the device of the abecedarium bring the Greek culture and thought to life. From acoustics to zygote, they provide not only an engaging romp through the Greek language but also a series of glimpses into the world and man's place in it. The historical, philosophical, mathematical, cosmological, and political (all Greek words) approaches we take toward life, its description, elucidation, and evaluation, are all mainly derived from several thousand years of Greek culture. The vocabulary of language is a mirror of the minds of its speakers, and in this book we see the first reflections of the modern world.
Author: Barry B. Powell
Worldly and scholarly, this well-designed text presents myths from around the world in a lively and easy-to-read manner. The material has been arranged by geographic and chronologic origin. It features fresh translations, numerous illustrations, maps, and commentary that emphasizes the anthropological, historical, religious, sociological, and economic contexts in which the myths were told.
In this book, Roger D. Woodard argues that when the Greeks first began to use the alphabet, they viewed themselves as participants in a performance phenomenon conceptually modeled on the performances of the oral poets. Since a time older than Greek antiquity, the oral poets of Indo-European tradition had been called 'weavers of words' - their extemporaneous performance of poetry was 'word weaving'. With the arrival of the new technology of the alphabet and the onset of Greek literacy, the very act of producing written symbols was interpreted as a comparable performance activity, albeit one in which almost everyone could participate, not only the select few. It was this new conceptualization of and participation in performance activity by the masses that eventually, or perhaps quickly, resulted in the demise of oral composition in performance in Greece. In conjunction with this investigation, Woodard analyzes a set of copper plaques inscribed with repeated alphabetic series and a line of what he interprets to be text, which attests to this archaic Greek conceptualization of the performance of symbol crafting.
Author: Robin Lane Fox
Publisher: Penguin UK
This remarkable and daringly original book proposes a new way of thinking about the Greeks and their myths in the age of the great Homeric hymns. It combines a lifetime's familiarity with Greek literature and history with the latest archeological discoveries and the author's own journeys to the main sites in the story to describe how particular Greeks of the eighth century BC travelled east and west around the Mediterranean, and how their extraordinary journeys shaped their ideas of their gods and heroes. It gathers together stories and echoes from many different ancient cultures, not just the Greek - Assyria, Egypt, the Phoenician traders - and ranges from Mesopotamia to the Rio Tinto at Huelva in modern Portugal. Its central point is the Jebel Aqra, the great mountain on the north Syrian coast which Robin Lane Fox dubs 'the southern Olympus', and around which much of the action of the book turns. Robin Lane Fox rejects the fashionable view of Homer and his near-contemporary Hesiod as poets who owed a direct debt to texts and poems from the near East, and by following the trail of the Greek travellers shows that they were, rather, in debt to their own countrymen. With characteristic flair he reveals how these travellers, progenitors of tales which have inspired writers and historians for thousands of years, understood the world before the beginnings of philosophy and western thought.
In Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea, his fourth volume to explore “the hinges of history,” Thomas Cahill escorts the reader on another entertaining—and historically unassailable—journey through the landmarks of art and bloodshed that defined Greek culture nearly three millennia ago. In the city-states of Athens and Sparta and throughout the Greek islands, honors could be won in making love and war, and lives were rife with contradictions. By developing the alphabet, the Greeks empowered the reader, demystified experience, and opened the way for civil discussion and experimentation—yet they kept slaves. The glorious verses of the Iliad recount a conflict in which rage and outrage spur men to action and suggest that their “bellicose society of gleaming metals and rattling weapons” is not so very distant from more recent campaigns of “shock and awe.” And, centuries before Zorba, Greece was a land where music, dance, and freely flowing wine were essential to the high life. Granting equal time to the sacred and the profane, Cahill rivets our attention to the legacies of an ancient and enduring worldview. BONUS MATERIAL: This ebook edition includes an excerpt from Thomas Cahill's Heretics and Heroes.