The Art of the Logos

The Art of the Logos

The Art of the Logos

The Art of the Logos

Excerpt

This volume has come of the writer's desire to answer a question which must always haunt the mind of anyone who studies the beginnings of our written tradition. What was the nature of that oral literature which preceded and is presupposed by the literature of books? Without some kind of answer to this question we cannot truly understand how the art of Homer and Herodotus came to assume its form and character. That this art of theirs, however much sublimated by personal genius, is in some sense traditional, no one any longer denies. Can we learn something of this tradition? In Homer's case it may be impossible. But it is different with Herodotus. We know when he lived and what he wrote; most important of all, he, so much later in time than Homer, is more directly the heir of the forgotten masters of narration. It is logical to begin with Herodotus and see what help, if any, our study of his methods will afford the student of Homer.

I was not able to find a great deal that bore immediately on my subject. Yet there was the brilliant, if not always convincing, Volksmärchen, Sage und Novelle of Wolf Aly, with some articles of his; the relevant parts of the great German history of Greek literature by Schmid and Stählin; Jacoby's work on the early historians. That, however, is but the beginning of my obligations. When an author has long reflected on his subject everything . . .

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