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Horst Steinke


emblematic of the right to be recognized as (original) au-




Thus, Vico distinguishes between two kinds of “Homers”,

that is, “the Homer hitherto believed in”, and “the true Homer”.

However, there is another, a


“Homer” present in Vico’s

«search for the true Homer». Without bringing this third

“Homer” into view and discussion, it becomes highly problemat-

ic answering the perennial question of “Homer’s” existence.

Most of Vico’s references to this (third) “Homer” are incidental,

although not for that reason less significant, but the following

introductions of this “Homer” are more descriptive and specific.

The first has a decidedly diachronic or chronological character:

Such works the Greeks could produce only in the time of their hero-

ism, at the end of which Homer must have come. The fables […]

reached Homer distorted and perverted. […] they were all at first true

histories, which were gradually altered and corrupted, and in their cor-

rupt form finally came down to Homer. […] The first age invented the

fables to serve as true narratives […]. The second altered and corrupt-

ed them. The third and last, that of Homer, received them thus cor-

rupted (§ 808)



The second expository reference is of a functional nature:

«This derivation [of


] is natural and proper when applied

to our Homer as a binder and compiler of fables» (§ 852). This

“Homer” is thus assigned to a specific and concrete historical

period (which, for argument’s sake, we take to be the 8



BC, without being invested in a precise date); he is also co-

textually identified as an actual individual. Furthermore, he is not

the “Homer believed in up to now”


, but rather «a binder and

compiler of fables (



componitore di Favole



have come down to him


, not the inventor or creator of the

stories out of whole cloth, so to speak. This constitutes a delib-

erate downplaying of the status of the 8


century poet. It needs

to be seen, however, in relation to the core concern that Vico