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

192

body, nor converge on the recognition of the universal character of the author

of the

Iliad

and

Odyssey

which occurs only as of 1730)» (Id.,

Da Dante a Omero,

da Gravina a Vico

, in

Giambattista Vico e l’enciclopedia dei sapere

, cit., pp. 375-382,

p. 375; also as

Prefazione

, in G. Vico,

La discoverta del vero Omero seguita dal Giu-

dizio sopra Dante

, ed. by P. Cristofolini, Pisa, Edizioni ETS, 2006, pp. 5-19, pp.

10-11). To trace Vico’s evolving interest in, and recognition of, the Homeric

material for his explanatory project, one has to go back further, to his

Diritto

universale

of 1721/1722; see R. Ruggiero,

Nova Scientia Tentatur

, cit., p. 153.

397

The operative word is “essentially” since Vico carefully edited the 1730

text, with all of the corrections, refinements, additions/omissions meriting

close reading (For a side-by-side comparison of Book III in the 1730 and

1744 versions, using the 1744 text as the baseline, see G. Vico,

La discoverta del

vero Omero seguita dal Giudizio sopra Dante

, cit., pp. 26-125).

While a detailed discussion goes beyond our scope, a few of these changes

in Book III can be singled out (based on comparison of the text in

La Scienza

nuova. Le tre edizioni,

cit., pp. 666-698, 1137-1167):

1. Section I, Chapter I: Addition of § 783, in support of the concluding

statement: «Here is the Homer unrivaled in creating poetic characters [...]».

2. Section I, Chapter V, Proof VII: Expansion of § 817, culminating in the

statement: «And here we have a luminous proof of the fact that the first fables

were histories».

3. Section I, Chapter VI, Proof XIII: Addition of § 852, containing the

statement: «rhapsodes were stitchers-together (

consarcinatori

) of songs».

4. Section II, Chapter I, Proofs VI and VII: Addition of §§ 880, 881, stat-

ing: «In this fashion we show that the Homer who was the author of the

Iliad

preceded by many centuries the Homer who was the author of the

Odyssey

».

5. Section II, Chapter I, Proof XXI: Addition of § 897, stating that «nei-

ther philosophies, […] poetry, […] criticism, which came later, could create a

poet […] anywhere near to rivaling Homer».

6. Section II, Chapter I, Proof XXIV: Rewording of the ending of § 901,

reading: «But it was poetic wisdom itself whose fables provided occasions for

the philosophers to meditate their lofty truths, and supplied them also the

means for expounding them […]»; compared to the (maybe too) evocative

style of 1730: «ma essa

Sapienza Poetica

contenne nelle sue

favole,

come in

embri-

oni,

o

matrici

le

sublimi verità

[…] (but this

poetic wisdom

contains in its

fables

the

sublime truths

, like in

embryos

or

mothers’

wombs

)». The same expression «come in

loro

embrione,

e

matrice,

dentro la

Sapienza de’ Poeti Teologi

(like in their

embryo

,

and

mother’s womb

, inside the

Wisdom of the Theological Poets

)» – can be found in

the 1730 version, in Book I, “On Method”, in the first paragraph that corre-

sponds in its first half to § 338 in the 1744 version, but the second half of