So far we have looked only at links between the Greek romances and literary texts which we know beyond doubt were in existence at the time when our romances were written. But it will already have become apparent that there is much common ground linking the later vernacular romances with one another. Here we cannot in most cases trace the relationship between texts in such a satisfactory way. One reason for this is uncertainty as to the precise chronology of the romances; another is the absence of definite evidence as to where and for what type of readership or audience they were composed. One influential approach to this question in recent years has been to invoke the processes of oral tradition in the composition and/or transmission of the romances. In investigating this issue it will be necessary to re-examine the elements of common ground that exist among all the later Greek romances, and the theories that have been advanced to account for them, before going on to propose a new explanation for these phenomena.
The common elements linking several, in some cases all, of the romances, whether original or translated, are of two kinds. Common themes linking the original romances, and a common quest among Western originals for those touching on aspects of the Greek tradition in the translated romances, have already been discussed. These elements have attracted much less attention, however, than have more obvious correspondences at the level of common wording, particularly in single lines or short groups of lines. I shall return to thematic resemblances later in this chapter. In the meantime we must begin with the verbal similarities which have been noticed among different romances, and the explanations proposed to account for them.
These explanations fall into three groups. The first, which develops earlier suggestions is today justly associated with the names of Michael and Elizabeth Jeffreys. 1 According to the Jeffreys the romances, along with most other vernacular Greek texts of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, preserve in varying degrees traces of an oral tradition of extended narratives
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Publication information: Book title: The Medieval Greek Romance. Edition: 2nd. Contributors: Roderick Beaton - Author. Publisher: Routledge. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 1996. Page number: 164.
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