Horst Steinke, Vico’s Ring. Notes on the“Scienza nuova”, its Structure, and the Hermeneutics of Homer’s Works
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Vico’s Ring

19

§§ 141-145, shining a light on the «earliest antiquity» (§ 331), he

highlights three universal constants: religion, marriage, death

rites. In the “Method” section, he reiterates the absolute need to

go back to the beginnings of civilization (§§ 338, 347), something

that took him twenty years to achieve (§ 338).

C

: Book II, §§ 361-779: Vico presents the results of his inves-

tigation of archaic origins, which he terms “poetic”, first of all,

with respect to language/semiotics, then to forms of governance,

with special attention to Roman political history, and finally to

the sciences. It is the longest Book in the work.

D

: Book III, §§ 780-914: The Book is about «the discovery of

the true Homer», providing (finally) the crucial methodological

underpinnings for his research into archaic times. He examines

the

Iliad

and

Odyssey

from the specific perspective of what they

reveal about different epochs of early Greek history, as previous-

ly overlooked or misunderstood. Vico includes a reminder of the

light it throws on the «history of the natural law» (§ 904).

C’

: Book IV, §§ 915-979: Vico implies a caesura with the pre-

vious material («In virtue of […] Book One, and […] Book Two,

and […] Book Three […], we shall now […] discuss in Book

Four the course nations run»), (§ 915) in terms of the three “ag-

es” (the ages of gods, heroes, and men). The initial point of ref-

erence is always the “poetic” or “divine” phase, be it with respect

to mentality, culture expressed in customs, language, and espe-

cially the rule of law, justice, and governance, again with particu-

lar focus on Roman jurisprudence.

B’

: Book IV, §§ 980-1045: In the final part of Book IV, he re-

fers back to the “principles” of Book I, and «in order to leave no

room for doubt» of their truth, announces detailed supporting

information. (§ 940) This historical information is almost exclu-

sively taken from Roman legal and political history, providing

confirmation of the particular sequence of legal and political sys-

tems he argued in the “Elements”, and here, too, the focus is on

beginnings as “heroic/aristocratic commonwealths/republics”.