Scholars have long recognized that hypothêkai, or instructional wisdom sayings, served as building blocks for larger structures of Greek wisdom poetry. Yet the mechanism that gets from saying to poem has never been traced in detail. If the transition involves more than piling sayings on top of each other, what intervenes? Focusing on the archaic hexametrical tradition of Homer and Hesiod, the paper develops a repertory of variations and expansions by which the primary genre, the hypothêkê speech-act, is transformed into a secondary genre—the larger-scale wisdom constructions we find in various Homeric speeches and much if not all of the Works and Days. The paper first argues for a precise formal description of the hypothêkê saying in the archaic hexameter; it then develops a toolbox of variations on the saying's basic form. Finally, the toolbox is put to work in order to read a forty-verse excerpt of Hesiod's Almanac.
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Research Article| April 01 2018
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Andrew J. Horne; Hypothêkai: On Wisdom Sayings and Wisdom Poems. Classical Antiquity 1 April 2018; 37 (1): 31–62. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/ca.2018.37.1.31
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