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The Birds of Homer

Nature volume 88, page 487 (08 February 1912) | Download Citation



THE advantages of the application of scientific knowledge to the literary problems of the Homeric poems are well illustrated by an article contributed to the second part of the “Journal of Hellenic Studies” for 1911, by Mr. J. Maclair Boraston on “The Birds of Homer.” He remarks that “whether in the form of epithet or by special description, Homer's portrayal of birds deals chiefly with essentials. In this lie the advantage and disadvantage of the Homeric method for one whose main purpose is concerned with what in Homer was merely contributory to a fuller one. The advantage of such a method is that it forces essentials to the front, and the disadvantage, that the references to these may be limited by the nature of the matter they serve to illustrate; or that, being references to the characteristics of a class of birds, they may not suffice for the illustration of a particular member of that class.”

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