Horst Steinke, Vico’s Ring. Notes on the“Scienza nuova”, its Structure, and the Hermeneutics of Homer’s Works
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Horst Steinke


eighteen hundred years after the institution of marriage […]. […] it was before

Homer’s time that the theological poets flourished […], Hesiod, putting him

thirty years before Homer. Cicero affirms […] that there were other heroic

poets before Homer […]» (§ 901).


Haddock calls him «the matchless poet of the heroic age» and notes

that Vico’s «dissolution of the historical identity of Homer» targeted this con-

cept of “Homer” (Id.,

Vico’s “Discovery of the True Homer”

, cit., p. 585).


G. Vico,

La Scienza nuova. Le tre edizioni


cit., p. 1155.


To quote Haddock again: «He had compiled the


and the


from cognate stories derived from popular traditions; and contradictions in

the modes of life portrayed in these groups of stories could be explained by

the different regions or periods of heroic Greece from which they had issued»


Vico’s “Discovery of the True Homer”

, cit., p. 589).


As Amerio noted: «Abbiamo già notato che non è questa circa la per-

sona di Omero la parte più importante e più innovatrice degli studi omerici

del V.; ma piuttosto quella circa la natura e il valore estetico e storico dei due

poemi (We already noted that the most important and innovative aspects of

Vico’s Homer studies do not concern the person of Homer but rather the na-

ture and value, aesthetically as well as historically, of the two poems)» (Id.,


troduzione allo studio di G. B. Vico

, cit., p. 495).

To get a sense of how Vico at times deals with, and incorporates, histori-

cal individuals in his reflections, see the expositions on Vico’s treatment of

Solon in the following essays in

Il sapere poetico e gli universali fantastici

, cit.: A.


Una storia senza “nomi propri”

, pp. 275-286; M. Sanna,

I “mostri” della storia


pp. 287-297. Sanna explains the process by which Vico arrives at «[l]a riduzio-

ne di Solone a un universale fantastico e l’indifferenza vichiana verso la sua

esistenza o non esistenza […] ([t]he reduction of Solon to an imaginative uni-

versal and Vico’s indifference toward his existence or non-existence […])»



, p. 289). See also Caponigri,

Time and Idea

, cit., p. 176: «[…] the natural

existence becomes a matter of indifference for historiographic purposes and is

replaced wholly by the poetic character itself».


Likely B. B. Powell speaks for most readers of Homer: «Everything

about the


is different from the


. They are literary opposites, creat-

ed by one of the greatest artists that ever lived» (Id.,


, in

The Odyssey


translation, introduction and notes by B. B. Powell, foreword by I. Morris,

Oxford-New York, Oxford University Press, 2014, pp. 1-36, p. 26).

Ulf remarks concerning the conversion of heroic song into heroic epos:

«Der für die Poetisierung des Textes notwendige Aufwand ist natürlich nicht

auf einen […] inneren Prozeß zurückzuführen (The expenditure of effort re-