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Homer and the Origin of the Greek Alphabet

Homer and the Origin of the Greek Alphabet

Paperback

By (author) Barry B. Powell

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  • Publisher: CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS
  • Format: Paperback | 308 pages
  • Dimensions: 163mm x 224mm x 23mm | 386g
  • Publication date: 1 December 1996
  • Publication City/Country: Cambridge
  • ISBN 10: 052158907X
  • ISBN 13: 9780521589079
  • Edition statement: Reprint
  • Illustrations note: 4 maps 6 tables
  • Sales rank: 681,773

Product description

Who invented the Greek alphabet and why? The purpose of this challenging book is to inquire systematically into the historical causes that underlay the radical shift from earlier and less efficient writing systems to the use of alphabetic writing. The author reaches the conclusion that a single man, perhaps from the island of Euboea, invented the Greek alphabet specifically in order to record the Iliad and the Odyssey of Homer.

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Review quote

' ... this is a book which is as remarkable for the ingenuity of its answers to difficult questions as it is for its useful review and compelling display of so much of the relevant evidence.' Bryn Mawr Classical Review '[This] is an important book, and will be widely read by students of writing in other cultures as well as by Homerists, linguists, historians and archaeologists of early Greece.' Classical Philology

Back cover copy

The purpose of this challenging book is to inquire systematically into the historical causes that underlay the radical shift from earlier and less efficient writing-systems to the use of alphabetic writing. The author declares his conclusion to be a possibly surprising one - that a single man, perhaps from the island of Euboea, invented the Greek alphabet specifically in order to record the Iliad and the Odyssey of Homer.

Table of contents

Foreword: why was the Greek alphabet invented? 1. Review of criticism: what we know about the origin of the Greek alphabet; 2. Argument from the history of writing: how writing worked before the Greek alphabet; 3. Argument from the material remains: Greek inscriptions from the beginning to c. 650 BC; 4. Argument from coincidence: dating Greece's earliest poet; 5. Conclusions from probability: how the Iliad and the Odyssey were written down; Appendix I: Gelb's theory of the syllabic nature of West Semitic writing; Appendix II: Homeric references in poets of the seventh century.