Sounds Like Epic Bull to Me …

UMSL Daily has a review of a book called Her Art: Greek Women in the Arts from Antiquity to Modernity, edited by Diane Touliatos-Miles which initially sounded interesting, until I read this bit of the interview with the editrix:

Are you dropping a bombshell by writing that Homer was not the author of the “Iliad” and “Odyssey”?

You bet I am. Homer heard the women composer Phantasia of Memphis, Egypt, singing the stories of the “Illiad” and “Odyssey” when he visited there. He took these ideas back to Greece where he had his followers write them down because Homer was blind and could never write.

Of course there are many other bombshells, like Socrates. He had had been tutored by Diotima of Mantineia, a philosopher who taught Socrates the so-called “Socratic” dialogue. Or there’s Kassia, the woman who was too brilliant to become empress.

… outside of the interesting detail that she seems to be able to speak in misspelled words (a la Tumbleweeds), we have mentioned the ‘Homer was a woman’ theory before … Andrew Dalby wrote a book on it and it seemed to have legs for summer of 2006, and then disappeared: Homer a Woman? (start of summer) … Iliad Written By a Woman? (end of summer; Anthony Snodgrass seems to think the Odyssey being written by a woman might work). Folks might want to check out Dennis’ dialogue of sorts with Andrew Dalby back when that part of the story was alive: Dalby Strikes Back.

Outside of that, however, one should check out the Wikipedia entry for Phantasia (poetess), which cites Eustathius of Thessalonica (who cites “a certain Naucrates”)– a 12th century bishop — as the source of the story. Perhaps someone with more experience in the Homeric scholia etc. could point me to a reference for this? Outside of that, it seems pretty clear that she has a rather different view of how oral poetry works …

Turning to the claims about Diotima, of course, who figures prominently in Plato’s Symposium, calling her the source of the Socratic dialogue seems a bit of a stretch — we won’t even get into the long-standing debate over whether she is a real or fictitious character, or someone modelled on Pericles’ lady-friend Aspasia. All that really can be said is that Socrates in the Symposium used a (real or imagined) debate with her to illuminate ideas about Love.

I’m not familiar with Kassia, who seems to be from the 9th century …

Whatever the case, I’m hoping some Classicists who specialize in these areas will take the time to formally review the ‘antiquity’ claims made in this book …


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