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PROCEEDINGS OF THE AMERICAN PHILOSOPHICAL SOCIETY VOL. 155, NO. 4, DECEMBER 2011
1
Read 12 November 2010.
The Penrose Lecture
The Homeric Question Today
1
MARTIN WEST
Emeritus Fellow of All Souls College
Oxford University
OMER IS ONE OF THOSE NAMES from antiquity that
are familiar to most educated people, whether or not they
have enjoyed any close encounters with those two great epic H
poems from archaic Greece, the Iliad and Odyssey. Now it is a feature
of our human society that certain notions associated with famous
names tend to percolate into the popular consciousness, by a kind of
osmosis, even when no particular attention has been paid or study di-
rected towards the object. In the case of Homer it is my experience that
many people who have never read anything on the subject have never-
theless picked up a notion of one or two issues that have exercised
scholarly minds over the generations: in particular, the idea that the
Homeric poems were originally oral poems, composed and transmitted
by poets who made no use of writing; and the idea that there is some
mystery whether these works were composed by a single poet or by
more than one, and when and where he or they lived. This bundle of
problems about the origins of the poems goes under the handy title the
Homeric Question, a phrase you may possibly have seen or heard be-
fore; it has been around for about 180 years. I thought it might be of
interest to members of this Society and their guests to hear something
about the condition the Homeric Question is in, in the twenty-frst
century.
What we are concerned with, what generations of scholars of vari-
ous great nations have beaten their brains over, can be summed up as
the question of the origins of the Iliad and Odyssey. Who was Homer,
if there was a Homer? When and where did he live? Did one poet pro-
duce both epics, or was there a different poet for each? Or was there in
each case a succession of poets, or a syndicate of poets and redactors?
384 martin west
Are the Iliad and Odyssey unitary works of art, or the outcome of more
complex or haphazard processes?
There are good reasons why these questions bother us especially in
relation to the Homeric poems. In the case of an author such as Ae-
schylus (most of you probably say Eschylus, we in Britain say Aeschy-
lus), we know something about the mans life; we know, for example,
that he produced his tragedy Persians in 472 BCE and the Oresteia four-
teen years later, and theres no mystery about who wrote these plays or
whether parts of them were written by somebody else. For the Homeric
poems we dont have any such defnite information. We have a tradi-
tional authors name, Homer, but we know that even in antiquity there
was dispute about when he lived and where he came from. There are
several ancient biographies of Homer, but they contain no historical
fact about him and a lot of romancing. There were a few people who
held that the Odyssey was by a poet other than the author of the Iliad.
There was uncertainty, too, about the unity and integrity of the poems.
Some people held that as Homer wandered about Greece, he left differ-
ent stretches of poetry in different places, and they were only later col-
lected up and arranged in their present form. There were allegations
that certain passages were added or altered after Homers time.
Scholars of the early modern period started out from those tradi-
tional uncertainties refected in the ancient sources. The Abb dAu-
bignac in 1664, reacting against the general admiration of Homer,
wrote a scathing attack on the poems, saying they were incoherent and
offended against morality, taste, and style. He declared that there was
no such person as Homer, and that the poems were cobbled together by
incompetent editors from oral songs. Fifty years later, Richard Bentley
in England constructed a similar picture: he allowed Homer to exist,
but as a prehistoric oral poet whose productions stood in only a loose
relationship to the Iliad and Odyssey we have: He wrote a Sequel of
Songs and Rhapsodies, to be sung by himself for small Earnings and
good Cheer at Festivals and other days of Merriment; the Ilias he made
for the Men, and the Odysseis for the other Sex. These loose Songs
were not collected together in the Form of an epic Poem till Pisistratus
Time, about 500 Years after.
It is often supposed that the conception of Homer as an illiterate
oral poet was an original insight of the American scholar Milman Parry,
about eighty years ago; in fact it was commonplace in the eighteenth
century. For example, Friedrich August Wolf, who published in 1795
one of the most famous of all books on Homer, the Prolegomena ad
Homerum, thought the Homeric poems were composed orally in the
tenth century BCE in the form of short separate songs and not writ-
ten down and joined together till the sixth century; during their four
the homeric question today 385
hundred years of oral transmission they suffered many changes, and
after they were written down they were edited and modernized and
shaped into the artistic unities that they now are.
These seventeenth- and eighteenth-century models were not based
on any serious analysis of the poems themselves. They were developed
on the basis of the ancient biographies and other statements by ancient
writers. Everyone recognized that there must have existed an extensive
oral tradition behind or beside or after the individual author known as
Homer; one had to ask what was his relation to that tradition. And
in a way this remains the essence of the Homeric Question: defning the
relationship between the tradition and the individual creative poet.
As there was no historical evidence, the question had to be ap-
proached by analysing the poems themselves. Such analysis, aiming to
identify different parts of the poems that had different origins, became
the chief preoccupation of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Ho-
meric criticism. There was some unitarian opposition, but it was only
sporadic. From about 1830 the shorthand term the Homeric Ques-
tion came into common use.
There were two alternative analytical models: the lay theory and
the nucleus theory. Those who followed the lay theory saw the poems
as having been put together from a number of originally separate and
more or less independent short poems or lays, which were not neces-
sarily all by the same poet; whatever unity and coherence the Iliad or
Odyssey might seem to possess were imposed on it after most of its
constituent parts were already in existence. For upholders of the nu-
cleus theory, on the other hand, each epic had grown big from a smaller
nucleus in which the overall plan and conception of the poem were al-
ready present: Homer, drawing on older materials, had composed an
original Iliad and Odyssey of modest size, which subsequent poets had
modifed and swollen with their own additions.
All tended to agree on certain assumptions: that epic poetry de-
veloped over a prolonged period; that before the Iliad and Odyssey
emerged, epic existed for the most part in the form of much shorter po-
ems; and that the substance of these two monumental epics was in part
derived from such shorter poems. These are assumptions that almost
everyone would still accept today. But the analysts were less in unison
and less convincing when they tried to reach detailed conclusions about
the stages and processes by which the Iliad and Odyssey evolved, when
they tried to identify separate layers of composition and the contribu-
tions of different poets. They couldnt agree on whether there was at
some point a supreme poet Homer, or two such poets, and, if so,
whether he or they operated at an early point in the whole process, or
towards the end, or somewhere in the middle.
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Soon after the First World War perspectives changed, and for most
of the twentieth century analysis in the old style, while it didnt dis-
appear altogether, was widely discredited and dismissed as a dead end.
Three different approaches to the Homeric Question now became prev-
alent: unitarianism, oralism, and neoanalysis.
Unitarianism put much more emphasis on the artistic unity of the
epics and played down the inconsistencies and incoherences that the
analysts had made the basis of their arguments. The unitarians were
emotionally committed to the idea of Homer as a singular genius, a
master craftsman whose works showed throughout the marks of de-
sign. E. R. Dodds wrote of them, The naive unitarians . . . held a fun-
damentalist faith in the integrity of the Homeric Scriptures; their reli-
gion forbade them to make any concession whatever to the infdel,
although it compelled them at times to fall back on arguments as un-
convincing as the worst efforts of the analysts. But the purity of the
original faith soon declined. Old diffculties were rediscovered, heresies
arose, and breaches appeared in the monolithic structure.
2
Meanwhile, from 1928, Milman Parry had been exploring the the-
ory and practice of oral poetry and arguing for its fundamental impor-
tance as the key to understanding the Homeric tradition. His work was
slow to exercise its infuence, but since the 1950s its signifcance has been
generally appreciated. Dodds portrayed naive unitarianism as a funda-
mentalist religion, but since he wrote one can say that oralism has be-
come something of the same kind in many quarters: a doctrine regarded
as unquestionable in itself and as holding the answers to all the prob-
lems, a transcendental insight that trumps all other approaches and
makes them irrelevant. It is sometimes claimed that it has more or less
disposed of the Homeric Question itself. Milman Parrys son Adam wrote
in the preface to his fathers collected papers, [The] old Homeric Ques-
tion, deriving from the doctrine of Wolf, had worn itself out and become
a repetitive and futile debate. Parrys work gave the whole study of
Homer a new life. And again: It was not the smallest accomplishment
of Parrys Homeric theory that it made the whole Unitarian-Analyst
controversy, at least in its older and best-known form, obsolete.
3
The third of the typically twentieth-century approaches is neoanal-
ysis, which can be described as a more analytical variety of unitarian-
ism. Its practitioners aim to trace relationships between the Homeric
poems and other, lost epics of whose existence we have some patchy
knowledge.
2
In M. Platnauer, ed., Fifty Years (and Twelve) of Classical Scholarship (Oxford, 1968;
orig. published as Fifty Years of Classical Scholarship [Oxford, 1954]), 11.
3
A. Parry in Milman Parry, The Making of Homeric Verse (Oxford, 1971), xliii, li.
the homeric question today 387
For example, when Odysseus sails away from Circes island, she
tells him he must avoid the Clashing Rocks, two great cliffs on either
side of a strait that keep crashing together and smashing ships that try
to pass between them. She says that the only ship that ever got safely
past them was the Argo, as Jason sailed homeward in it with the Golden
Fleece. In other words, the story of the Argonauts was the only one in
which the Clashing Rocks had previously appeared: the poet of the
Odyssey was borrowing them from there. Some of Odysseus other ad-
ventures also have parallels in the tale of the Argonauts as we know it
from later sources. So perhaps the Odyssey poet borrowed them, too,
from the same lost early poem about the Argos voyage.
Or again, in both the Iliad and the Odyssey we fnd allusions to
events that fell outside the narrative frame of the poem, events like the
Judgment of Paris, his seduction of Helen, the death of Achilles, the
sack of Troy, and the things that happened to various of the Greek he-
roes on their homeward journeys from Troy. All these events were
treated in the lost poems that made up the so-called Epic Cycle. So did
the poet or poets of the Iliad and Odyssey take this material from those
Cyclic poems, or were the Cyclic poems later compositions that drew
on the same older material?
Sometimes it is a matter of parallel motifs, of the same narrative
structures being used in different contexts. At the climax of the Iliad,
when Achilles and Hector are battling it out, Zeus picks up his golden
scales and weighs the destinies of the two heroes against one another to
determine which of them is to die. In one of the Cyclic epics there was
a similar scene where Zeus weighed the destinies of Achilles and Mem-
non. What was the relationship between the two scenes? Did the Cyclic
poet borrow the idea from the Iliad? Was it the other way round? Or
were the two poets independently using a stock motif that any poet
might have used in a climactic duel between two heroes? This is the
kind of issue that exercises the neoanalyst.
So between unitarianism, oralism, and neoanalysis, what has be-
come of the Homeric Question? For some writers it seems to have
faded away. As long ago as 1927, a leading German scholar referred to
what people used to call the Homeric Question.
4
An Italian one in
1970 declared, [T]he Homeric problem is dead.
5
In a companion to
Homer that appeared in 1997, the writer who was assigned the chap-
ter on the Homeric Question, Frank Turner, writes, The Homeric
4
Was man einst die homerische Frage nannte, ging darauf, ob Homer die Ilias und die
Odyssee so, wie wir sie haben, gedichtet htte. U. von Wilamowitz, Die Heimkehr des Odys-
seus (Berlin, 1927), 171.
5
B. Marzullo, Il problema omerico, preface to 2nd ed. (ca. 1970): [I]l problema omerico
morto.
388 martin west
Question . . . is a distinctly nineteenth-century invention, created by the
philological enterprise, the romantic concepts of composition, and the
historicism of the age. Research and argumentation over the Question
were pursued within distinctly nineteenth-century intellectual institu-
tions.
6
Turner uses past tenses throughout the passage; he treats the
Homeric Question as a historical phenomenon located in the past.
So where do we stand today? Is the Homeric Question dead? Cer-
tainly there is no longer a noticeable battle between analysts and unitari-
ans, and perhaps for that reason scholars who discuss the poems ori-
gins no longer tend to speak of themselves as addressing the Homeric
Question. But the problems that traditionally made up the H omeric
Question are by no means settled.
We all agree these days that the Iliad and Odyssey are unifed po-
ems, in the sense that each of them shows a clear overall design that
could not have resulted from just stringing a series of separate shorter
poems together. And we all accept the implication, that this design is a
design conceived by a single author, however much it may owe to ear-
lier poems that he knew. This doesnt necessarily mean that every sec-
tion of both poems is the main authors genuine work. Nearly everyone
agrees that one episode in the Iliad, the so-called Doloneia in book 10,
is an insertion by a different poet. But essentially we are dealing with
unifed poems.
Are they both by the same poet? I think most scholars today would
say no. They are very different kinds of poem: the Iliad is a tragedy of
heroic passions set against a background of quasi-historical saga; the
Odyssey is the story of one mans triumph over adversity in a world of
folk-tale. That is not in itself an argument against their being the work
of the same poet. What weigh more are the differences between the two
epics in outlook and in language. The linguistic differences dont leap
to the eye, but they reveal themselves to careful research and observa-
tion. The differences in outlook appear both with regard to morality
and religion and in the poets knowledge of their contemporary world:
the Iliad poet shows in several passages that he is at home in the Greek
coastal settlements in Asia Minor, while the Odyssey poets world is
centred further west, in mainland Greece or the Aegean islands. Then
there are many places where particular passages in the Iliad look like
the models for passages in the Odyssey, giving the impression that the
Odyssey poet was an imitator.
There will always be folk who cling to the traditional faith in
one Homer who composed both epics. They will say, who are we to
6
Frank M. Turner in A New Companion to Homer, ed. Ian Morris and Barry Powell
(Leiden-New York-Kln, 1997), 123.
the homeric question today 389
contradict the consensus of antiquity? But how old is this consensus?
In fact the ascription of both poems to Homer cant be traced further
back than about 520 BCE, when Hipparchus, a member of the ruling
family at Athens, established regular recitations of these two epics at
the great city festival celebrated every four years, the Great Panathe-
naea. That is a century or more after the poems came into existence.
We cant assume that they had necessarily been attributed to Homer
throughout that time, because in the early period there was evidently
much uncertainty about the authorship of epic poems. Some were treated
as anonymous; for others there was disagreement over authorship.
There may in fact be a relic of a tradition that gave the Odyssey
an author different from that of the Iliad. In the principal ancient life
of Homer, which is itself late and unhistorical but embodies older sto-
ries, the Odyssey is composed by a man called Melesigenes, who later
changes his name to Homer. This looks like a story designed to recon-
cile competing ascriptions to Homer and to Melesigenes. The name
Homer itself is suspect. A few oddball scholars, including myself, have
argued for the view that in origin Homer was not the name of a histori-
cal poet, but was generated from an ancient word for what the Welsh
call an eisteddfod, an assembly of the people with poetic contests.
This uncertainty about authorship is a refection of the traditional
nature of oral epic. The singers of tales portrayed in the Homeric epics
are not represented as creating new poems, but as reproducing songs
that they know about the deeds of heroes; the memory of those deeds is
conceived as having been preserved through the ages by the Muses.
This is how the epic poets of the Homeric age probably saw them-
selves: not as authors but as conservators and performers. Of course
there was a creative element in their performances, and feld research in
modern cultures teaches us that an oral poets recitations are never the
same twice; each one is a re-telling.
What does this signify for the Homeric Question? How can we ask
meaningful questions about the composition of the Iliad and Odyssey,
if they were constantly being recomposed? A prominent American Ho-
merist who is an extreme sufferer from this anxiety is Gregory Nagy.
He points out that even in the late classical and early Hellenistic peri-
ods, down to about 150 BCE, the text of the Homeric poems was still
unstable. Quotations by older writers and the oldest fragments of man-
uscripts of Homer show that there was a lot of minor variation among
texts in circulation, not seriously affecting the sense, but with discon-
certing differences in wording, substitution of one phrase for another,
and occasionally additional verses of an inorganic nature. Most of us
put this down to the indiscipline of reciters who were in principle recit-
ing a fxed text. Nagy, however, regards it as a genuine continuation of
390 martin west
the oral tradition. Most of us hold that two poets in the eighth or sev-
enth century, trained in the oral tradition and using its resources, cre-
ated the Iliad and Odyssey and somehow arranged for them to be fxed
in writing, and that these poems achieved such fame that rhapsodes
took them up and learned them and recited them (as happened at Ath-
ens at the Great Panathenaea) instead of continuing to compose poems
of their own. They may not have recited them very accurately, but they
were not recomposing them in the way that an oral poet recomposes
poems that have not been fxed in writing. Nagy, on the other hand,
upholds what he calls an evolutionary model, in which there is no sharp
break in the oral tradition down to 150 BCE, but the form of the po-
ems becomes more and more stable as time goes on. So from his point
of view there was no particular event that could be identifed as the
composition of the Iliad or Odyssey, and it makes no sense to try to
put a date on it or talk about the individual author.
Nagys position seems to me to refect an exaggerated commitment
to the gospel of oralism that takes away the sins of the world. When he
reviewed the frst volume of my critical edition of the Iliad, he com-
plained that I ignore altogether the work of Parry and Lord, and
show a noticeable lack of engagement with oral poetics. I replied in
effect that while the work of Parry and Lord is highly relevant to the
oral poetry that lies behind the Iliad and Odyssey, I was dealing with a
written text and its transmission. Ever since Parry, people have been
too ready to say glibly that the Iliad and Odyssey are oral poetry. But
its a plain fact that they are written texts. A written text can be the
true representation of an oral poem only if the oral performance is cap-
tured on tape and then transcribed, as Parry and Lord did with many
of the Serbo-Croatian heroic songs that they collected in the Balkans.
We cant say that we have oral poems from antiquity, only poems
formed in the oral tradition and then subjected to a necessarily labori-
ous and time-consuming fxing operation.
Parry and Lord and their followers performed a vital service in rais-
ing our consciousness with regard to the oral tradition that must lie be-
hind the Homeric poems. But a paradoxical effect of their efforts is to
make the problem of how these poems became written texts more
acute. If their creators were oral poets, what motive might they have
had for writing them down? And how was it achieved? It must have
been done, if not by the poets themselves, at any rate with their active
cooperation. It is usually supposed that they must have dictated the po-
ems to scribes, though if it was a line-by-line dictation, they would have
had to go much more slowly than they were accustomed to recite, and
they might have had diffculty in maintaining their fuency. I fnd it eas-
ier to envisage the poet reciting a whole episode and the scribe, or the
the homeric question today 391
author-poet himself, then writing out from memory what he had just
heard (or recited).
But it cant have been a matter of a poets having an Iliad or Odys-
sey complete in his head and just dictating it from the beginning until it
was all there in writing. For one thing, it is a feature of oral poetry that
each time a poem is performed it is recomposed, recreated. So the Iliad
and Odyssey must have been recomposed as they were written down,
and they cant have existed in exactly their present form until they were
written down. The writing process must have extended over a pro-
longed period: weeks at least, more likely months or years. In the course
of it the poet had ample time to think about the structure and develop-
ment of his narrative. Ideas must often have come to him that he hadnt
started out with. Sometimes he must have thought of changes or addi-
tions he wanted to make in what had already been written down, and
there was nothing to prevent this from happening. In both epics, I be-
lieve, we can identify places where the poet has had new ideas and
changed or added to what he had already written or dictated; places
where it is helpful to assume additions or alterations made in a text al-
ready fxed in writing, breaking continuities that can still be discerned.
If such cases can be established, they disprove the view that the
texts were dictated from beginning to end by oral poets and subject to
no revision. This means that the oral poetry gospel has not after all made
analysis redundant. Once a written text existed, even while it was still
incomplete, it was exposed to the possibility of insertions, deletions,
transpositions, and other changes by the original poet or by others
changes of the very kinds that the old analysts claimed to detect. We
are entitled to look for signs of such changes, and we need to do so if
we want a true insight into how these epics came into being.
How do we date these poems? The debate continues, but we of the
twenty-frst century (Professor Nagy may join us later) have come to
see the matter in sharper focus than our forefathers. We have more def-
inite parameters. They used to think of Greek history as beginning with
the foundation of the Olympic Games in 776 BCE; that was the earliest
date there was, with only a misty mythical era before it. We see things
very differently now. Archaeology has given us a clear vision and a
rough chronology of the Mycenaean world, and a general framework for
the centuries between the collapse of the old palaces around 1200 BCE
and the fowering of the city-states half a millennium later. We have
learned how to date some features of the material culture described in
Homer. We have built up a model of the stages by which the Greeks
gained knowledge of foreign peoples and places, and we can measure
the Homeric picture against it. We no longer imagine that the poems as
we have them could have been preserved unchanged over time without
392 martin west
being fxed in writing, so we rule out a dating to the tenth or ninth cen-
tury, when to the best of our knowledge there was no writing in Greece.
We no longer take it as axiomatic that epic poems must be earlier than
the lyric or elegiac poems that start to appear in the seventh century.
Nineteenth-century scholars could still think of the Iliad and Odyssey
as having been composed in the eleventh or tenth century, or as late as
the mid-sixth. Now the feld of play is much narrower: no one would
want to go much before 750 or after 600.
For most of the twentieth century the conventional dating was to
the eighth century. I think this was a hangover from the time when ear-
lier datings were commonplace; people realized that 800 was too early,
but were reluctant to downdate the poems any further than they had
to. Richard Janko, a member of this Society, made a strenuous effort to
work out an objective chronology of the early Greek hexameter texts
(Homer, the poems of Hesiod, and the Homeric Hymns) from a broad-
based and sophisticated statistical study of linguistic variables. He ar-
rived at a sequence of texts ordered according to the frequency of newer
linguistic forms, and he made suggestions for converting his relative
chronology into possible absolute chronologies by making certain as-
sumptions. But people have hesitated to embrace his results. There are
too many imponderables. It is not just a question of tracing a slow but
steady trickle of linguistic changes. Individual poets must have differed
in their propensity to archaism and their resistance to neologism. When
we are having to compare texts composed in different regions by poets
schooled in different local traditionsone of them, perhaps, a man
aged twenty, another a man of seventystatistical methods cant be re-
lied upon to tell us in what order they were produced.
In any case, to calibrate the relative dating and turn it into an abso-
lute dating you need to bring in other criteria, such as how the poems
relate to historical circumstances or to events of the eighth or seventh
century, to other poetry, and to datable works of visual art. In recent
decades a growing number of scholars, on the basis of such consider-
ations, have been persuaded to bring the Iliad and Odyssey down into
the seventh century. For example, there is a reference in the Iliad to the
great wealth of the Egyptian city of Thebes (9. 38184). Walter Burk-
ert, also a member of this Society, has connected this with the prosper-
ity of that city in the Twenty-ffth Dynasty (715663 BCE) and with
the display of booty taken from Thebes by the Assyrian king Assurba-
nipal when he sacked it in 663. I myself have proposed another linkage
with a historical event in the Near East: the gods are said to have
washed away the Greek defence-works at Troy after the war by chan-
nelling the waters of several rivers against them (Iliad 12. 1733), and I
have connected that with Sennacheribs levelling of Babylon by diverted
river waters in 689 BCE. Hans van Wees in London has studied the
the homeric question today 393
weaponry and combat tactics described in the Iliad and found that they
show a whole series of features characteristic of the frst half of the sev-
enth century and in most cases less appropriate to an earlier date. The
elaborate design of Achilles shield with its scenes of battles and cities
and so forth fnds its best parallels in Phoenician metal dishes and bowls
of the period 710675; when you see illustrations of them, you cant
help thinking that the Iliad poet must have seen something much like
them. Scenes from the Iliad dont appear on painted vases till around
630, and the frst clear echoes of the Iliad in other poetry are no earlier.
One of the stories included in the Odyssey, the blinding of the Cyclops,
is depicted as early as 675, but it doesnt follow that there already ex-
isted an Odyssey anything like ours.
Neoanalysis also contributes towards refning the chronology. I men-
tioned that the Odyssey poet borrowed some of his material from an
older poem about the voyage of the Argo. This Argonautic poem cant
have been composed earlier than about 650, because to judge from the
refexes of it in the Odyssey it showed some knowledge of a sector of
the northern Black Sea, from the Crimea to the Straits of Kerch, that
the archaeological evidence suggests was frst being explored by Greeks
at that period. If the argument is sound, it follows that the Odyssey cant
be earlier than the second half of the seventh century. Its poet knew the
story of Memnon, a glamorous hero who, according to one of the Cyc-
lic poems, brought an army of Ethiopians to Troy after the funeral of
Hector and was killed by Achilles. This Memnon frst appears in art
around 580 BCE and appears to have been a new fgure in Greek myth
at that time. The poet of the Iliad knew nothing of him. This again
brings the date of the Odyssey down to late in the seventh century.
I have tried to give you a favour of the kinds of argument that are
being brought to bear these days on the set of enigmas that constitute
the Homeric Question. You may or may not feel ready to ride with
them, but I think we can claim that they are more focused, and get to
closer grips with the problems, than the arguments that were being
used ffty or a hundred years ago. Analysis, unitarianism, oralism, neo-
analysis have all had their parts to play in bringing us this far, and still
have their parts to play. They all have their limitations, but none of
them has proved unproftable. And we have now reached a vantage-
point from which we can see that they are not necessarily in confict
with each other (analysis versus unitarianism, oralism superseding both
of them, neoanalysis rearing its head and snapping at oralism): we are
learning to make them work together. We are never going to get exact
answers, but it feels to me at any rate as though we are getting warmer.
And members of this Society for Promoting Useful Knowledge are play-
ing their part in this noble quest.