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Vico’s Ring


[…] And, […] they were received by Homer in this corrupt and dis-

torted form (§§ 814, 815)



Also, on a more mundane level, Vico points out glaring

anachronisms, at least as he considered them to be the case: «Yet

we do not see how to reconcile so many refined customs with

the many wild and savage ones which he attributes to his heroes

at the same time, and particularly in the


» (§ 804)


. Based

strictly on a close reading of the poems

in constant mutual in-

teraction with, and interpenetration of, his theoretical frame-

work, comprising “philosophy” and “philology”


without the

benefit of a wealth of linguistic/historical/archaeological data, he

arrived at views and conclusions that are not incompatible with

the stock-in-trade of modern Homeric studies, or at least certain

currents in such studies


. The «confused mass of material» (§

853) made his project by his own admission exceedingly diffi-



and slow in taking shape, over two decades by his own

reckoning. But the point that stands out is that the questionable

state and condition of the extant and available literary resources

did not preclude them, in Vico’s mind, from being an indispen-

sable repository of historical knowledge, provided, of course,

they are treated with the right kind of investigatory tools.

Despite the multi-layered distortions and outright replace-

ment(s)/substitution(s) of “original” material,

in principle

it was

still possible to arrive at a coherent picture of the nature of an-

cient civilization(s). This conclusion provides a point or space of

contact, and comparison, with Spinoza’s hermeneutics of



On the other hand, as discussed above, in


, Chapter 7, Spi-

noza presents a catalogue of “difficulties” associated with biblical

studies, the cumulative effect of which amounted to the realiza-

tion that

in principle

, knowledge of ancient biblical matters (ex-

tended by Spinoza to any and all “sacred” texts) was impossible.

Vico and Spinoza, at the same time, share a commonality in that

both thinkers approach the chosen ancient literature with ulterior

“ideological” motivations; these ulterior reflections are brought