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Horst Steinke


has befallen the poems of Homer as the Law of the Twelve Ta-

bles») (§ 904)



As has been observed earlier, viewed on the broader canvas

of the development of Roman civilization

de longue durée

as a

model for Vico of the development of human civilization in gen-

eral, Homer assumes a larger privotal role and function, namely,

that of being a unique record of the (lost) world of humans, so-

cially, “politically”, of the worldview, the mindset, the language,

and the behavioral pattern(s) prevalent in archaic times. Having

devoted the bulk of

Scienza nuova

to “Poetic Wisdom”, his theory

of origins, Vico now in Book III lays out his methodology by

which he arrived at the reconstruction of primordial culture



He scrutinizes the language, personalities, manners and customs

depicted in the




, and realizes that their character-

istics cannot but have originated in the distant past of the Greek

people, going so far as asserting that the


account depicted a

time and


that was very different from the world in the pag-

es of the




These perceived differences lead him to “dis-

cover” in the


the earliest stratum


of Greek civilization



And he was proving that it was possible to find a way of access-

ing the archaic world, the ages of “gods” and “heroes”, which is

an essential condition of possibility of deciphering “Poetic Wis-


Rather than engaging in a further (narrative) description of

Vico’s hermeneutical approach in Book III, its contours may be

drawn more distinctly by positing it again in relation to Spinoza’s

thought, all the more so as Spinoza did have his own theory of

interpretation which he propounded explicitly and directly in


. As was the case in different contexts in previous parts of

this work, our focus on Vico’s thought necessarily places con-

straints on the breadth and depth of Spinoza’s body of thought

being considered.