§§ 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).
: 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.
: 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
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).
: 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.
: 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”.