Iliad and Odyssey as evidence

Discussion of Julian Jaynes's third hypothesis - dating the development of consciousness to roughly 1500-1200 BCD in Egypt, Greece, and Mesopotamia (the transition occurred at different times in different places around the world). Includes analysis of ancient texts (such as the Iliad, the Odyssey, and the Bible), linguistics, and archeological evidence from ancient civilizations as it pertains to the transition from the bicameral mind to consciousness.
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Iliad and Odyssey as evidence

Post by EnglishStudent12 »

I have a general question about the Iliad and Odyssey as evidence of unconsciousness and I am wondering if anyone can help me out.
The Odyssey presents so many contradictions to the bicameral mind theory, while the Iliad seems to fit almost perfectly. How is this possible? If they were both written by the same poet (although I know this is debatable - but let's assume they were), how could he be "conscious" for one book but not the other?
Am I missing anything here?
Thanks in advance
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Re: Iliad and Odyssey as evidence

Post by Moderator »

I think the answer to your question is that it is not just somewhat debatable but rather highly unlikely that they were composed by the same person named Homer.

Most modern scholars no longer believe that the Iliad and the Odyssey were composed by the same person (Homer) during the same time period. As Jaynes notes on p. 272, "There are of course some scholars who still like to think of these two epics as being written down and even composed by one man named Homer, the first in his youth and the second in his maturity. The more reasonable view, I think, is that the Odyssey followed the Iliad by at least a century or more, and, like its predecessor, was the work of a succession of aoidoi rather than any one man."

In other words, the Iliad was recited orally for centuries before being written down (or dictated) by (most likely) someone named Homer. The poems were not immediately written down in the manner someone would compose a poem today.

For further discussion on this subject see the Critiques & Responses section of the website. You might also look for Eric Cline's Archaeology and the Iliad: The Trojan War in Homer and History (The Modern Scholar audio lecture series) at your local library.
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