Diachronic Poetics and Language History: Studies in Archaic Greek Poetry
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CitationNikolaev, Alexander Sergeevich. 2012. Diachronic Poetics and Language History: Studies in Archaic Greek Poetry. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University.
AbstractThe broad objective of this dissertation is an interdisciplinary study uniting historical linguistics, classical philology, and comparative poetics in an attempt to investigate archaic Greek poetic texts from a diachronic perspective. This thesis consists of two parts. The first part, “Etymology and Poetics”, is devoted to several cases where scantiness of attestation and lack of semantic information render traditional philological methods of textual interpretation insufficient. In such cases, the meaning of a word has to be arrived at through linguistic analysis and verified through appeal to related poetic traditions, such as that of Indo-Iranian. Chapter 1 proposes a new interpretation for the enigmatic word ἀάατο̋, the Homeric epithet of the waters of the Styx, which is shown to have meant ‘sunless’. Chapter 2 deals with the word ἀριδείκετο̋, argued to mean ‘famous’: this solution finds support in the use of the root *dei̯k- in the poetic expression “to show forth praise”, found in Greek choral lyric and the Rigveda. Chapter 3 investigates the history of the verbs ἰάπτω ‘to harm’ and ἰάπτω ‘to send forth (to Hades)’. Chapter 4 improves the text of Pindar (O. 6.54), restoring a form ἀπειράτωι. Chapter 5 discusses the difficult word ἀμαυρό̋, establishing for it a meaning ‘weak’ and proposing a new etymology. Finally, Chapter 6 places Alc. 34 in the context of comparative mythology, with the object of reconstructing the history of the Lesbian lyric tradition. The second part, “Grammar of Poetry”, shifts the focus of the inquiry from comparative poetics to the language of early Greek poetry and its use. Chapter 7 addresses the problematic Homeric aorist infinitives in -έειν, showing how these artificial forms were created by allomorphic remodeling driven by metrical necessity; the problem is placed in the wider context of the debate about the transmission and development of Homeric epic diction. The metrical and linguistic facts relating to the distribution of infinitives are further discussed in Chapter 8, where it is argued that the unexpected Aeolic form νηφέμεν in Archil. 4 should be viewed as an intentional allusion to the epic tradition, specifically, the famous midsummer picnic scene in Hesiod.
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