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  Philologica 5 (1998)  


We certainly realize that the topic for discussion which follows (the controversial issues of the phonics and semantics of the Homeric hexameter) falls first and foremost within the province of classical philology. Nevertheless, the publication of these materials on the pages of our journal can be justified: although our primary field of research is Russian, we consider a keen interest in the theoretical and methodological bases of humanistic knowledge our main priority. But, evidently, the general theoretical significance of the following dispute should not be questioned. On the basis of a statistical examination of the Iliad and the Odyssey, E. A. Krasnopevcev has advanced an original hypothesis about the “cosmo-stomatic isomorphism” of the acoustic and semantic levels in the Ancient Greek epic: according to this hypothesis, the phonics of Homer’s verse exactly reflects the triadic structure of the ancient world picture. If the scholar’s assumption were correct and had laid the foundations for a coherent theory (that is a theory which is backed up by the facts and verifiable in principle), he would have brought about no more or less than a radical change in our ideas about the correlation between form and content in mythopoeic texts. However, Krasnopevcev’s conception meets with serious difficulties and raises substantial objections, both factual and methodological (some of them are expressed in A. I. Zajcev’s and V. V. Fajer’s critical remarks).

Incidentally, there is another circumstance which influenced our decision to publish these works. The forebear of all other branches of philological activity, classical philology did not become in Russia (as happened in the West) a discipline in its own rights. Our country has not developed a tradition of standard editions of the ancient authors; we do not even have a periodical where the students of antiquity could make themselves at home. This is the reason why Philologica, which has always striven for the consolidation of the humanities, could not help taking up the role of a welcoming host and interested interlocutor.


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