Thursday, March 8, 2018

... on Homer's Minimal Time for Two Epics

How long did Homer take to write the Iliad?

Hans-Georg Lundahl
Self Employed at Writer and Composer
Answered Mar 3
First of all, the Iliad, like the Odyssey, has 24 songs.

Second, each song has about 800 lines.

Third, each line (not necessarily separately from next or previous, but in its entiretey) needs to be learned by heart for an oral composition to take place.

Fourth, we do not know if Homer, who was blind, used his aoidoi disciples as secretaries, immediately on composing of each line, or whether he learned a passage or a whole song by heart first before writing it down.

This blog post:

27-VIII-2004, Tosantos - San Juan de Ortega

Tells in French the story of this song:

The pilgrim's padreen*

I would say it involves, with the last refrain being repeated in a formulaic echo, the equivalent of 24 hexameters.

As you can see from context, I was not working full time on it. Homer could perhaps have made 48 or 50 per day. And he may have made use of more formulaic repeats and echos than I did in this song.

He may have used his disciples as a “notebook” quicker than I had access to one.

Fifth, I repudiate as unfounded doubt any theories of Homer not existing, not being blind, not composing orally. I would say, Homer was genuinely unaware of Hittites, and of cultural differences between Achaean Greek monolithic monarchy and his own Greece, at least some of them. If he had had eyes, he would have discovered some. But this just as secondary confirmation on his being blind, I mainly take this from tradition.

Now, we can count, a minimum, supposing Homer did 50 or 100 verses per day and had disciples as “instant notebook”.

800 * 24 / 50 = 384 days
800 * 24 / 100 = 192 days

In other words, each of the epics could have taken about a year.

As for Homer’s sources, I think he would have used both his memory and his students recalling it as “instant wiki”. His memory of his own training, which involved some epic materials incorporated in these two epics.

Hans-Georg Lundahl
Just now
“ or whether he learned a passage or a whole song by heart first before writing it down.”

I meant of course, dictating it to students.

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