By Mark Smith, Jamie Thomson
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With this goal in mind, I have worked out a tentative descriptive framework of five periods, “Five Ages of Homer,” as it were: a relatively most fluid period, with no written texts, extending from the early second millennium into the middle of the eighth century in the first millennium BCE. a more formative or “pan-Hellenic” period, still with no written texts, from the middle of the eighth century to the middle of the sixth BCE. a definitive period, centralized in Athens, with potential texts in the sense of transcripts, at any of several points from the middle of the sixth century BCE to the later part of the fourth BCE; this period starts with the reform of Homeric performance traditions in Athens during the régime of the Peisistratidai.
Iliad XIX 79–80 Agamemnon is here speaking publicly to the assembly of warriors while remaining in a seated position (verse 77), saying that it is a good thing to listen to a man who speaks in a standing position and that it is difficult for even a good speaker to huphoballein him (ὑββάλλειν, verse 80). Achilles had just spoken to the assembly at verses 56–73, and verse 55 makes it explicit that he was standing. The definition of hupoballô in LSJ (p. ), with specific reference to this passage, is “‘suggest, whisper’, as a prompter does”; building on this definition, the dictionary arrives at the interpretation ‘interrupt’ for hupoballô here, following the suggestion of the B scholia to Iliad XIX 80.
10] In this connection, we need to confront the general phenomenon of meaning in the media of oral poetics. On the basis of my own cumulative work, I am convinced that meaning by way of reference in oral poetics needs to be seen diachronically as well as synchronically: each occurrence of a theme (on the level of content) or of a formula (on the level of form) in a given composition-in-performance refers not only to its immediate context but also to all other analogous contexts remembered by the performer or by any member of the audience.