Homer and the Origin of the Greek Alphabet

Homer and the Origin of the Greek Alphabet

by Barry B. Powell


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What caused the invention of the Greek alphabet? Who did it, and why? The purpose of this challenging book is to inquire systematically into the historical causes that underlay the radical shift from earlier and less efficient writing-systems to the use of alphabetic writing. The author declares his conclusion to be a possibly surprising one - that a single man, perhaps from the island of Euboea, invented the Greek alphabet specifically in order to record the Iliad and the Odyssey of Homer.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780521371575
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Publication date: 03/07/1991
Pages: 306
Product dimensions: 5.98(w) x 8.98(h) x 1.14(d)

Table of Contents

Foreword: why was the Greek alphabet invented? 1. Review of criticism: what we know about the origin of the Greek alphabet; 2. Argument from the history of writing: how writing worked before the Greek alphabet; 3. Argument from the material remains: Greek inscriptions from the beginning to c. 650 BC; 4. Argument from coincidence: dating Greece's earliest poet; 5. Conclusions from probability: how the Iliad and the Odyssey were written down; Appendix I: Gelb's theory of the syllabic nature of West Semitic writing; Appendix II: Homeric references in poets of the seventh century.

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