<< Chapter < Page Chapter >> Page >

Multitext vs. “urtext”

As of this writing, the most recent modern edition of Homeric poetry is the Iliad of Martin West (1998b / 2000). West based his edition on the theory of an original written Iliad and Odyssey composed in writing by an original poet. As West says about his edition (1998a:95), “We may assume that there existed a complete and coherent Urtext of each epic, the result of the first writing down.” But the fact is, and West candidly admits it, the existing manuscript traditions of the Homeric Iliad and Odyssey cannot be traced back directly to such a hypothetical Urtext . The variants that we find in these traditions simply cannot be reconciled with each other in terms of an Urtext , and editors like West who assume the pre-existence of such an Urtext are forced to choose, on a case-by-case basis, which is the right variant and which are the wrong variants in the existing manuscript traditions.

As I have argued, however, “we cannot simplistically apply the criteria of right or wrong, better or worse, original or altered, in the editorial process of sorting out the Homeric variants” (Nagy 1996:153). If Homeric poetry, as a system, derives from traditional oral poetry, then we can expect such a system to be capable of generating multiform versions, not one uniform version, and no single version can be privileged as superior in and of itself whenever we apply the empirical methods of comparative philology and the study of oral tradition (Nagy 1996:117-118).

In my review of West’s Iliad (Nagy 2000, republished in Nagy 2004:40-74), I argued against his idea of a Homeric Urtext , which would require a “unitext” edition, and I argued for the alternative idea of a multitext Homer, which would require a multitext edition designed to account for the historical reality of multiformity as we find it attested in Homeric textual traditions (Nagy 2000 = 2004:70). Work on such a multitext edition of Homeric poetry, as I noted at the outset of my presentation here, is in progress (Dué and Ebbott 2009+).

In the previous paragraph, I emphasized the historical reality of multiformity in the Homeric textual traditions. This emphasis is needed in order to counteract the false impression that each variant is a “right” version, as it were, in the editing of a multitext that reflects the multiformity of the textual tradition. A multitext edition, which requires a combination of synchronic, diachronic, and historical perspectives, shows something quite different: that each variant is the “right” version only in its own historical setting . In other words, different variants were perceived as the “right” version at different points in the history of the Homeric tradition . Here is my overall formulation, as presented originally in a review (Nagy 2003) of a book by West (2001b) and as recast in a book entitled Homer’s Text and Language (Nagy 2004:77-78):

West misreads the concept of multitext when he claims that a multitext edition of Homer promotes an attitude of indifference toward the critical evaluation of variant readings in the history of the Homeric textual tradition. Contrary to West’s claim, a multitext edition of Homer does indeed allow for the privileging of one variant over others—but only in relative terms, since the editor may find that different variants became dominant in different phases of the Homeric tradition. In terms of a multitext edition, the editor of Homer needs to adopt a diachronic perspective—as an alternative to a pseudo-synchronic perspective. The term “pseudo-synchronic” will be explained further below.
From a diachronic and even historical point of view, it is indeed possible to think of a single given variant as the definitive variant at a single given time and a single given place. But the privileging of any given variant by any given audience is itself a matter of variation, and a diachronic perspective makes it clear that different variants were perceived as the “right” version at different points in the history of the Homeric tradition.
It is not that a diachronic perspective avoids “passing any value judgments,” as West claims [2001b:159n2; also his p. 3]. The point is, rather, that the modern value judgments of the editor need to be responsive to changes in the ancient value judgments about Homeric poetry throughout the historical continuum of the Homeric tradition. West applies the term “value judgments” only to the critical stances of modern editors and their readers. But what about the “value judgments” of the ancient world? In this case, a more suitable term is “reception.” The problem is, West does not take into account the history of Homeric reception. If indeed Homeric poetry—as recorded by the Homeric textual tradition—reflects a system derived from oral poetry, then the value judgments of an editor need to be responsive to the multiple value judgments represented by that system as it evolves through time. An empirical analysis of the textual evidence reveals an underlying system capable of generating a multiplicity of versions, and it is methodologically unsound for an editor to assume that only one of these extant versions was basic while the others were derivative. Such an assumption exemplifies what I call a “pseudo-synchronic” point of view. I define such a point of view as one that treats irregularities within a given traditional system as if they could never have been regularities in other phases of that same system.

Questions & Answers

what is the coefficient of -4×
Mehri Reply
-1
Shedrak
the operation * is x * y =x + y/ 1+(x × y) show if the operation is commutative if x × y is not equal to -1
Alfred Reply
An investment account was opened with an initial deposit of $9,600 and earns 7.4% interest, compounded continuously. How much will the account be worth after 15 years?
Kala Reply
lim x to infinity e^1-e^-1/log(1+x)
given eccentricity and a point find the equiation
Moses Reply
12, 17, 22.... 25th term
Alexandra Reply
12, 17, 22.... 25th term
Akash
College algebra is really hard?
Shirleen Reply
Absolutely, for me. My problems with math started in First grade...involving a nun Sister Anastasia, bad vision, talking & getting expelled from Catholic school. When it comes to math I just can't focus and all I can hear is our family silverware banging and clanging on the pink Formica table.
Carole
I'm 13 and I understand it great
AJ
I am 1 year old but I can do it! 1+1=2 proof very hard for me though.
Atone
hi
Adu
Not really they are just easy concepts which can be understood if you have great basics. I am 14 I understood them easily.
Vedant
find the 15th term of the geometric sequince whose first is 18 and last term of 387
Jerwin Reply
I know this work
salma
The given of f(x=x-2. then what is the value of this f(3) 5f(x+1)
virgelyn Reply
hmm well what is the answer
Abhi
If f(x) = x-2 then, f(3) when 5f(x+1) 5((3-2)+1) 5(1+1) 5(2) 10
Augustine
how do they get the third part x = (32)5/4
kinnecy Reply
make 5/4 into a mixed number, make that a decimal, and then multiply 32 by the decimal 5/4 turns out to be
AJ
how
Sheref
can someone help me with some logarithmic and exponential equations.
Jeffrey Reply
sure. what is your question?
ninjadapaul
20/(×-6^2)
Salomon
okay, so you have 6 raised to the power of 2. what is that part of your answer
ninjadapaul
I don't understand what the A with approx sign and the boxed x mean
ninjadapaul
it think it's written 20/(X-6)^2 so it's 20 divided by X-6 squared
Salomon
I'm not sure why it wrote it the other way
Salomon
I got X =-6
Salomon
ok. so take the square root of both sides, now you have plus or minus the square root of 20= x-6
ninjadapaul
oops. ignore that.
ninjadapaul
so you not have an equal sign anywhere in the original equation?
ninjadapaul
hmm
Abhi
is it a question of log
Abhi
🤔.
Abhi
I rally confuse this number And equations too I need exactly help
salma
But this is not salma it's Faiza live in lousvile Ky I garbage this so I am going collage with JCTC that the of the collage thank you my friends
salma
Commplementary angles
Idrissa Reply
hello
Sherica
im all ears I need to learn
Sherica
right! what he said ⤴⤴⤴
Tamia
hii
Uday
hi
salma
hi
Ayuba
Hello
opoku
hi
Ali
greetings from Iran
Ali
salut. from Algeria
Bach
hi
Nharnhar
what is a good calculator for all algebra; would a Casio fx 260 work with all algebra equations? please name the cheapest, thanks.
Kevin Reply
a perfect square v²+2v+_
Dearan Reply
kkk nice
Abdirahman Reply
Jeannette has $5 and $10 bills in her wallet. The number of fives is three more than six times the number of tens. Let t represent the number of tens. Write an expression for the number of fives.
August Reply
What is the expressiin for seven less than four times the number of nickels
Leonardo Reply
How do i figure this problem out.
how do you translate this in Algebraic Expressions
linda Reply
why surface tension is zero at critical temperature
Shanjida
I think if critical temperature denote high temperature then a liquid stats boils that time the water stats to evaporate so some moles of h2o to up and due to high temp the bonding break they have low density so it can be a reason
s.
Need to simplify the expresin. 3/7 (x+y)-1/7 (x-1)=
Crystal Reply
. After 3 months on a diet, Lisa had lost 12% of her original weight. She lost 21 pounds. What was Lisa's original weight?
Chris Reply
Got questions? Join the online conversation and get instant answers!
Jobilize.com Reply

Get the best Algebra and trigonometry course in your pocket!





Source:  OpenStax, Online humanities scholarship: the shape of things to come. OpenStax CNX. May 08, 2010 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11199/1.1
Google Play and the Google Play logo are trademarks of Google Inc.

Notification Switch

Would you like to follow the 'Online humanities scholarship: the shape of things to come' conversation and receive update notifications?

Ask