The Poet of the Iliad

The Poet of the Iliad

The Poet of the Iliad

The Poet of the Iliad

Excerpt

The three lectures in this book were prepared and delivered in February 1949, in the festal air of Cambridge. A university not my own has for me always a certain holiday air: in Cambridge that week the nightly performances of King Oedipus made almost the illusion of a 'panegyris'. In that air I meant to expound (but not to argue) some convictions at which I had at last arrived about the Iliad as a historic event -- the circumstances of its composition and first performance, its effect on Greek civilization, and its intrinsic nature. Rather extensive notes and two appendices have not, I think, much altered the book's character: their purpose is to explain my meaning in more detail; they attempt no responsible survey of the whole field.

I have several obligations to record. To my wife, who has helped me to form my thoughts at every stage. To four scholars who read through my text and notes and found much to criticize: Sir John Beazley, Sir Maurice Bowra, Dr F. Jacoby, Prof. D. S. Robertson. They gave me much information, much insight, and saved me from some follies. Mr George Forrest helped me with the indexes. I am particularly indebted to Prof. Ashmole and Mr Corbett of the British Museum, for including in their first experiments of polaroid photography the amphora on which the Rhapsode in my Fig. 2 is painted. And it is pleasant to have encountered the skill and courtesy of the Cambridge University Press.

My main assumption (that Homer wrote the Iliad substantially as we have it) is now almost fashionable. I like to think that this is not because we wish it was so, but because we begin to see more clearly the face of early Greece: while it was dawn, and while the bright day grew.

H. T. W.-G.

Middleton Stoney, Ox. April 1952 . . .

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