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Vico’s Ring


pursues and grapples with, which is the unearthing of ancient

historic strata that could provide insight(s) on the origins of civi-

lization, in complex interaction with his “philosophical” and

“philological” speculation, and to that end, the 8


century BC

poet Homer, living outside the pertinent time frame as he did,

had little, if anything, to contribute


. From a source-critical per-

spective, Vico’s lack of interest in the 8


century recorder of the

poems cannot be taken for lack of esteem for the literary accom-

plishment of this third Homer, not only in putting the poems in

writing as such but also in transforming them into a literary mas-




In the light of these explicit distinctions between three kinds

of “Homers”, it would seem that Vico’s belief in the existence of

an 8


century individual writer traditionally named Homer

should be beyond dispute. This is not the case, however; actually,

it would appear that the balance of Vico studies is weighted in

favor of doubt or rejection of an affirmative belief on Vico’s



. The “blame” for causing the controversy could be placed

at the feet of Vico himself, in a manner of speaking, by virtue of

a key paragraph in Book III of

Scienza nuova,

that is, § 873, the

second half


of which reads:

And certainly if, as in the case of the Trojan War, there did not remain

of Homer certain great vestiges in the form of his poems, the great dif-

ficulties would lead us to conclude that he was a purely ideal poet (


Poeta d’idea

) who never existed as a particular man in the world of na-

ture. But the many great difficulties on the one hand, taken together

with the surviving poems on the other, seem to force us to take the

middle ground (

affermarlo per la metà)


that Homer was an idea or a he-

roic character of Grecian men insofar as they told their histories in


Much of the problematic, and thus also any solution, revolves

around the type of designation, or, in the terms of analytic phi-

losophy, definite description, ascribed to the different occurrenc-