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"The Awakening of the Greek Historical Spirit" by C. Starr

Posted: Fri Nov 02, 2007 3:05 pm
by Moderator
The Awakening of the Greek Historical Spirit by Chester Starr is another book very relevant to Jaynes's ideas. Jaynes assigned Chapter 3 from this book to his students.

Below are a few selected quotes.

Chapter 1 - The World of Epic and Myth

"The Iliad and the Odyssey were tales laid in a distant past, the era of the Trojan War; this we today consider to have been the late Mycenaean period (the thirteenth century B.C.). Almost everything else in Homeric scholarship has been, and continues to be, the subject of fierce debate. The period, thus, in which the epics were put together in the form in which later ages have known them remains uncertain, for Homeric bards sundered past from present and felt no compulsion to give contemporary references. Much of the material was of ancient inheritance, and the Homeric dialect and poetic technique were themselves artificial constructions which were elaborated over many generations; a reasonable guess as to the final crystallization of the epics is that the Iliad emerged shortly before the middle of the eighth century B.C., and the Odyssey a generation or so later. In this event the two epics were by different authors, but the similarity in style and outlook is so great that one may continue to employ the term 'Homer' as a collective noun" (pgs. 13–14).

"...[T]he ultimate responsibility for men's actions lies with the gods or with God; but men must, in such a case, move themselves at least immediately. In the Homeric epics the gods do not simply pass decrees on Mount Olympus; they come down and talk to Achilles or take human form to mislead Hector to his death. More generally, any Homeric hero who engages in unusual behavior can be said to be directed by his ate, or divine possession; or to do a great deed by reason of his menos, divine power. His moira, or fate, is a matter determined by the gods or by an impersonal force above and behind them" (p. 17).

Chapter 3 - The Framework of Time

"Particularly in archaic Greece, which looked at its world through the spectacles of epic and myth and was still organized in a very primitive social and religious structure, the emergence of a sense of historical time could only be gradual and incomplete" (p. 59).

"To follow, then, the slow awakening of a historically oriented consciousness of time we must go back before philosophy itself had developed, and investigate the evidence of archaic poetry and art, as well as of the Greek language itself. Although this material adequately shows the reluctance of early Hellas to yield a sense of timeless continuity, the Greeks had come by 500 B.C. to a view of time in human affairs which made history possible, even essential, as a mode by which society explained its present character through the action of time in the past" (p. 60).

Chapter 4 - Man and the State

"In early Greece the gods, sometimes frightening, sometimes benign, were visible masters of human destinies; what we must look to find is a matter of nuances, tendencies, and partial assertions of human freedom of will" (p. 91).

Chapter 5 - The Intellectual Development of the Sixth Century

"Only during the sixth century did the Greeks begin to think of space, time, man, and the state in any clear and coherent manner" (p. 99).