By Gilbert Murray
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Additional resources for A History of Ancient Greek Literature (19061897)
THE BEGINNINGS OF PROSE 117 VI. HERODOTUS 132 VII. PHILOSOPHIC AND POLITICAL LITERATURE TO THE DEATH OF SOCRATES 153 VIII. THUCYDIDES 178 IX. THE DRAMA: INTRODUCTION 203 X. ÆSCHYLUS 215 XI. SOPHOCLES 232 XII. EURIPIDES 250 XIII. COMEDY 275 XIV. PLATO 294 XV. XENOPHON 314 XVI. THE 'ORATORS' 325 XVII. DEMOSTHENES AND HIS CONTEMPORARIES 353 XVIII. ] THE LITERATURE OF ANCIENT GREECE I HOMER INTRODUCTORY IN attempting to understand the scope and development of Greek literature, our greatest difficulty comes from the fragmentary and one-sided nature of our tradition.
Can we see more closely what it effected? It prescribed a certain order, and it started a tendency towards an official text. It is clear that adherence to the words of the text was not compulsory, though adherence to the 'story' was. It seems almost certain that the order so imposed was not a new and arbitrary invention. It must have been already known and approved at Athens; though, of course, it may have been only one of various orders current in the different Homeric centres of Ionia, and was probably not rigid and absolute anywhere.
If Pisistratus and Hipparchus dispute this particular law, it is partly because there are rumours of dishonest dealings attached to the story, partly because the tyrants were always associated with the Panathenæa. But what was the law? It seems clear that the recitation of Homer formed part of the festal observances, and probable that there was a competition. Again, we know that the poems were to be recited in a particular way. But was it ἐξύποβολη+̑ς ('by suggestion') -- at any verse given?