Committee for the Study of Books and Media - "How Old Was Homer? The Case of a Disappearing Author in the Renaissance and Enlightenment"
"How Old Was Homer? The Case of a Disappearing Author in the Renaissance and Enlightenment"
Kristine Haugen, California Institute of Technology
This talk explores what happened when humanists began to treat Homer as an object of quantitative study, an obligatory landmark in the discipline of historical chronology, at a time when doubts about the history and integrity of the Homeric poems were already well known. Their literary and technical arguments are hard to separate when an early date for Homer placed him close to eyewitnesses to the Trojan War, but a later date brought him close to the era when his poems were first supposed to have been written down. Some major figures are Joseph Scaliger, Richard Bentley, Isaac Newton, and F. A. Wolf, who spurned the tradition of dating Homer himself but deployed dates pervasively in his new story of the epics.
Kristine Haugen is professor of English Literature at Caltech and took her Ph.D. at Princeton. She has published extensively on the Renaissance and Enlightenment.