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Horst Steinke


arguing the existence of either of the other two “Homers”



The “strategy” of this interpretation consists of changing the

scope and application of «

per metà

» from the function of picking

out one half of a pair of disjunctive alternatives, to a judgment of

the (relative) quality/qualification of the single notion of «Homer

as a poetic character», in other words, arguing that it meant that

“Homer” was “part fiction, part reality”. As a result, «

per metà


semantically, is assimilated to a different term used by Vico for

“half” of something: «[…] the Greek poets, profoundly steeped

in that doctrine (as was Menander, for example, in comparison

with whom Terence was called even by the Latins “half a Me-

nander (

Menandro dimezzato

)”, could create certain luminous ex-

amples of ideal human types […]» (§ 808). By this interpretive

move, the domain to which Vico’s «

affermarlo per la metà»


namely, the domain of thinking, logic, and (discrete) truth-values,

is replaced by a domain of the non-logical notion of variations in

degree (a species of metric space, when endowed with additional

structure), which is grounded in the primitive relation of “more

or less”


. Text-immanent exegesis in this case, therefore, cannot

be divorced from questions of underlying ontology.

Against the horizon of the proposed interpretation of Vico’s

understanding of the genesis and development of the Homeric

poems, the putative parallel with Spinoza’s critique of Moses’ au-

thorship of the Pentateuch can now be (re)considered. As will be

recalled, Spinoza’s main contention and result was that the Pen-

tateuch (as well as several other Bible “books” immediately fol-

lowing it in the Old Testament canon as we have it today, up to,

and including,



Second Kings

) were written by the Persian

Era Ezra (albeit using older material)


; however, Ezra’s work

included relatively small portions of text directly attributed to

Moses, including, most importantly, the part called “the Book of

the Law of God”


. And, most significantly, Spinoza argues for

Ezra’s authorship on the basis of «a fixed aim in view», «the unity

of theme of all these books, their interconnections»