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Look Inside Writing and the Origins of Greek Literature

Writing and the Origins of Greek Literature


  • Date Published: May 2007
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521036313

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About the Authors
  • 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.

    • Offers an interesting thesis about this important and fascinating topic
    • Pays full attention to the ancient Near Eastern context in which the Greek alphabet developed
    • Written in a lucid style, and well illustrated
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    ' … a powerful and original book …' Ancient West & East

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    Product details

    • Date Published: May 2007
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521036313
    • length: 228 pages
    • dimensions: 234 x 156 x 12 mm
    • weight: 0.33kg
    • contains: 56 b/w illus. 1 map
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    List of figures
    1. Introduction: building models like a wigwam
    2. Text
    3. Orality and genre
    4. Myth
    5. Literacy
    6. Tradition
    7. Memorization
    8. M. L. West and the Eastern origins of Greek tradition
    9. Cultural transmission by literate means in the Near East
    10. Writing: general
    11. Writing: semasiography and logosyllabography
    12. Writing: the Chinese enigma
    13. Oral and written in the land between the rivers
    14. Oral and written in the Valley of the Nile
    15. The West Semitic revolution
    16. The invention of the Greek alphabet and the end of multiliteralism
    17. Where does Homer fit in the alphabetic revolution?
    18. The aoidos in context
    19. Aoidic innovation in myth: stories from pots
    20. Summary and conclusions: early Greek literature in context

  • Author

    Barry B. Powell, University of Wisconsin, Madison
    Barry B. Powell is Halls-Bascom Professor of Classics at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. His books include Homer and the Origin of the Greek Alphabet (1991 HB 0521371570; 1996 PB 052158907X).

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