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



The possible chiastic structure of the second half of the paragraph may

be shown in the form of the following key phrases (which in the Bergin/Fisch

translation follow the order of the original Italian text):

a: Homer

b: vestiges in the form of his poems

c: the great difficulties

d: he (


) was a purely ideal poet who never existed as a particular man

c’: the many great difficulties

b’: the surviving poems

a’: Homer [as] a heroic character

There thus appears parallelism between the “Homers” at the beginning

and end of the chiasmus, on the one hand, and, in the center, on the other

hand, focus on the “Homer” against whom the entire Book III is directed,

beginning with the topic of this “Homer” as a “philosopher” (§ 780), and

ending with the same topic, by describing him (hypothetically) as «a rare and

consummate poet» (§ 904).

The phrase «a purely ideal poet» reads «un

Poeta d’idea

» in G. Vico,


Scienza nuova. Le tre edizioni

, cit., p. 1158; if this «

Poeta d’idea

» is understood as

«the Homer believed in up to now (

Omero finor creduto

)», rhetorically, he serves

a double function, providing a contrast with both the 8


century Homer, and

«the true Homer», but at the same time binding all parts of the argument to-

gether, as is a basic function and effect of chiasmus. Ruggiero seems to con-

cur with the identification of the «

Poeta d’idea

» with «the Homer believed in up

to now», based on the comparison of the 1730 and 1744 editions, by para-

phrasing the clause as «fosse stato artatamente costituito [


, 1730] come un

poeta d’idea (that he was artfully contrived as an idealized poet)» (Id.,


Scientia Tentatur

, cit., p. 194). In

La “volgar tradizione”

, Ruggiero comments that

«[i]l verbo “fingere” ha qui valore di


[…] (the verb “to feign” here

has the sense of

to imagine

[…])» (


, p. 243, footnote 10).


In this respect, we concur with Croce who wrote: «[…] there was no

strictly logical passage to the denial of the existence of an individual Homer

[…]» (Id.,

The Philosophy of Giambattista Vico

, cit., p. 190).


The binary, disjunctive use of «per metà» is also present in Book I, Ax-

iom X (§ 140): «The same axiom shows how the philosophers failed by half


mancato per metà

) […], and likewise the latter [the philologians] failed


(G. Vico,

La Scienza nuova. Le tre edizioni

, cit. p. 860). Haddock refers to

the «complementary role of philosophy and philology» (Id.,

Vico’s “Discovery of

the True Homer”

, cit., p. 591).


The existence of the 8


century Homer was disputed by the


d’Aubignac (1604-1676), in his

Conjectures académiques ou dissertation sur l’Iliade