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Vico’s Ring


through time, of the material at all levels, Vico remains con-

vinced of the authenticity of many of its archaic features: «The

ineptitudes and indecencies are effects of the awkwardness with

which the Greek peoples had labored to express themselves in

the extreme proverty of their language in its formative period» (§

830). The material – or, rather, the parts of the material that Vico

designates as such - had to be originally created in the ancient

culture(s), by gifted - but forever remaining anonymous – “po-

ets”: «we must suppose that the two poems were composed […]

by various hands through successive ages [the time frames of the




]» (§ 804)


. These first poets gave expression to

their culture(s), and also, vice versa, these cultures gave rise to

these poets and poetic works, so that Vico could give credit for

the poems to the communities as a whole: «These two characters

[Achilles and Ulysses], since they had been created by an entire

nation, could only be conceived as naturally uniform ([…] agree-

able to the common sense of an entire nation […])» (§ 809). The

other side of the coin (of genuine authorship of the poems), or

corollary, is Vico’s rejection of the notion that the poems were

the brainchild of a single literary giant of an intellectually highly

advanced age


, calling such attribution «the Homer as he has

hitherto been held to be/believed in»


(§§ 805, 873, 874, 901).

In support of his thesis, Vico cites the conflicting stories and

claims about the person supposed to be that author, in terms of

his fatherland, and time in which he lived; the fact that he reiter-

ates these incongruities three times indicates the weight they are

meant to carry in his argumentation (§§ 788-804, 861-872, 875-


Therefore, when Vico says that «Homer was an idea or a he-

roic character of Grecian men insofar as they told their histories

in song» (§ 873), he is giving full credit to the long line of folk

poets and their epigones


for the epic poems that later came to

be attributed to someone in the 8


century named Homer; these

folk poets were «the true Homer» (§ 787), where “Homer” is