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Homer and the Origin of the Greek Alphabet - Barry B. Powell

Homer and the Origin of the Greek Alphabet

Paperback Published: 10th February 1997
ISBN: 9780521589079
Number Of Pages: 308

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What caused the invention of the Greek alphabet? Who did it, 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 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.

Industry Reviews

' ... 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

List of figuresp. xiii
List of tablesp. xiv
Acknowledgementsp. xv
Abbreviationsp. xvi
A note on terms and phonetic transcriptionsp. xix
Chronological chartsp. xx
Mapsp. xxii
Foreword: Why was the Greek alphabet invented?p. 1
Review of criticism: What we know about the origin of the Greek alphabetp. 5
Phoenician originsp. 5
Single introduction by a single manp. 10
The place of adaptationp. 12
The date of transmissionp. 18
The moment of transmissionp. 20
The names of the signsp. 32
The sounds of the signsp. 38
The vowelsp. 42
The problem of the sibilantsp. 46
The problem of the supplementals [phi] [chi] [Psi]p. 48
The adapter's systemp. 63
Summary and conclusionsp. 66
Argument from the history of writing: How writing worked before the Greek alphabetp. 68
Elements in the art of writingp. 69
How logo-syllabic writing works: Egyptian hieroglyphicp. 76
How syllabic writing works: the Cypriote syllabaryp. 89
How syllabic writing works: Phoenicianp. 101
Summary and conclusionsp. 105
Argument from the material remains: Greek inscriptions from the beginning to c. 650 B.C.p. 119
The lack of semantic devices in early Greek writingp. 119
"Short" Greek inscriptions from the beginning to c. 650 B.C.,p. 123
"Long" Greek inscriptions from the beginning to c. 650 B.C.p. 158
Conclusionsp. 181
Argument from coincidence: Dating Greece's earliest poetp. 187
What dates does archaeology give for objects, practices, and social realities mentioned in Homer?p. 190
Is there anything about the language of the Iliad and the Odyssey that can be dated?p. 207
What are the earliest outside references to Homer?p. 208
Homer's date in ancient traditionp. 217
Conclusions: the date of Homerp. 219
Conclusions from probability: how the Iliad and Odyssey were written downp. 221
Writing and traditional song in Homer's dayp. 221
Conclusionsp. 231
Gelb's theory of the syllabic nature of West Semitic writingp. 238
Homeric references in poets of the seventh centuryp. 246
Definitionsp. 249
Bibliographyp. 254
Indexp. 277
Table of Contents provided by Syndetics. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780521589079
ISBN-10: 052158907X
Audience: Tertiary; University or College
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 308
Published: 10th February 1997
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 35.26 x 9.8  x 1.96
Weight (kg): 0.46