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Vico’s Ring


clusive, interests lie elsewhere. This relative “indifference” pro-

vides no warrant to imply that he denied the existence of the 8


century compiler/recorder/redactor


; if anything, it implies ra-

ther that the existence of the latter Homer is not at issue at all,

and therefore, does not enter, or participate, in the questioning

and deliberative process. But proceeding more systematically

(and pedantically), there are three sets of possibilities that Vico

forces us to consider in terms of the sense of the cryptic «per



as involving pairs of disjunct alternatives, or options,

from which to choose: the first pair being the existence of the 8


century Homer


«the Homer believed in up to now»; the sec-

ond, the proposition of the existence of the 8


century Homer


«the true Homer», and lastly, «the Homer believed in up to



«the true Homer». The first pair is ruled out by the ex-

plicit statement at the very end that the affirmation «per metà»

concerned Homer as a heroic character of the Greek people as a

whole, not as a single individual. The remaining two possibilities

encapsulate the division of views in Vico studies. By our reading

of the beginning of the second part of § 873, given the existence

of the poems in the extant form, Vico took the existence of the



century Homer just the same as granted


, thus making the

second set of choices inapplicable. Settling on the third pair of

alternatives – Vico’s affirmation of “Homer” as the Greek peo-

ple expressing themselves in the beginning through anonymous

folk poets, constituting «the true Homer» – goes along with the

denial of «the Homer believed in up to now»


, which unambig-

uously expresses the (co-textual) logical force of «

per metà

», and

has the merit of being consistent with the thrust of the entire

Book III



It should be noted that another interpretative current is to

sidestep altogether the question of the existence of either «the

Homer believed in up to now» or the 8


century Homer, affirm-

ing only the Greek people as «Homer as a poetic character»,

without attributing to Vico any intention of acknowledging or