jueves, 25 de junio de 2015


Esta entrada recoge el resumen en inglés de mi tesis sobre la Tebaida de ‘Homero’ como fuente de Ilíada y Odisea; acabo de actualizarla añadiendo unas referencias bibliográficas básicas.

Desde luego este post no será nunca trending topic. Pero tiene una virtud. Salvo que se descubran algún día unos rollos de papiro con el texto íntegro de 
la Tebaida, lo que se dice aquí seguirá siendo válido durante bastante tiempo.

PS. El resumen de la tesis está en inglés por responder a una petición que me hizo, entre otros, Jennifer Strauss Clay. Dentro del post hay un enlace a una versión online de la tesis en castellano: http://interclassica.um.es/.../cuadernos_de.../numero_1995  

This book (La Tebaida Homérica como fuente de Ilíada Odisea, Madrid, Fundación Pastor, 1995) discusses the presence of material from the epic Theban cycle (especially from the Thebaid) in Homer's two canonical works, the Iliad and the Odyssey. The aim is to prove or invalidate the hypothesis that Homer could have used the Thebaid as a source.

The introductory chapter (§ 1) poses the problem and sets out the methodology which will be used to solve it. The methodology in question is that known as Neoanalysis, a school of criticism based on a number of fundamental studies by Professor W. Kullmann (1960; 1981; 1984; 1991).

The author first explains the concept of “semi-rigid motifs” which, according to the “Neoanalysis” school, Homer adopted from the epic cycle; he then points out the differences between these “semi-rigid” motifs and the traditional motifs recognised by the oralists. In general terms, the points of disagreement between Oralism and Neoanalysis are established and attention is drawn to the fact that it is possible to combine the points of view of both schools.

When applying the neoanalytical method to the study of Homer's Theban sources, it is recalled that their case differs from the presumed Trojan sources for two reasons:
1) no summaries exist for the Theban epic as do for the Trojan cycle, thanks to Proclus;
2) in spite of the fact that strictly speaking they deal with pre-Homeric facts, the Theban epics belong to a different mythic cycle to that Homer writes about. 
Despite these difficulties, the research proceeds on the basis of an analysis of the allusions to the Theban saga contained in the Iliad and the Odyssey, taking as its starting point a previous reconstruction of the Thebaid (J.B. Torres Guerra, La Tebaida Homérica como fuente de Ilíada y Odisea, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, 1993, 104-270), whose results are incorporated into this study to the degree required by the research.

The second chapter (§ 2) presents an edition of the references to and fragments of the Thebaid. This edition of the fragments of the Thebaid basically follows that of Bernabé (1987, 20-28); there are no differences either in the cataloguing of the references and fragments, the way in which they have been ordered or in the text of the literal fragments. Differences from the base-edition can basically be found in the critical apparatus; these variations are a result of having examined Davies's edition (1988, 21-26) and the reviews published of Bernabé’s and Davies’s works.

The following chapter (§ 3) examines passages of the Iliad dealing with material from the Thebaid. The passages in question are the following: II 572; IV 370-410; V 115-117; V 800-808; VI 222-223; X 284-291; XIV 113-125; XXIII 345-347; XXIII 677-680.

The first section of this chapter (§ 3.1) presents the corresponding texts and explains the factual information they transmit about the Theban saga; the fragmentary and allusive character of these passages is noted.

In § 3.2 an attempt is made to answer the question as to whether the Iliad presupposed on behalf of its audience knowledge of the Theban saga. The fragmentary character of many of Homer's references to it leads us to affirm that it did; it should be noted that some references to the Theban saga can be understood in the light of other passages from the Iliad but this is not the case for all of them.
More specifically, the Iliad does not recount three fundamental aspects of the saga: a) the motive for the campaign against Thebes (cf. IV 378); b) the statute of Adrastus in Argos (cf. II 572 and XIV 121); c) the relationship between this character, Tydeus and Polyneices (cf. IV 375-376 and XIV 121). 
If it is accepted that the Iliad presumes in its public the knowledge of the Theban saga, the question then arises as to the ways in which this knowledge reached them. It is considered that the most likely way was by way of the epic poems. After making this general observation, the author draws attention to a piece of data which it is not easy to interpret: the possibility is discussed that two verses of the fourth book (IV 374-375) imply the pre-existence of epic accounts of the Theban heroic deeds of Tydeus.

A new question is then posed, namely, as to whether the pre-Homeric epic which the Iliad seems to presuppose can be identified with the Thebaid. In order to respond to this intricate question relevant Homeric passages are compared with what we know of the Thebaid. The author attempts to show (§ 3.3) that no contradiction exists between the material from the Thebaid and that from the Iliad, even though divergences have been claimed to exist in some cases.
This occurs in what refers to the following aspects of the saga: 1) the figure of Oedipus; 2) the connection of the story of Eteocles and Polyneices with the story of Oedipus; 3) the burial of the Argive leaders in Thebes. With respect to the last aspect, it is also pointed out that, by indicating that the leaders of the first expedition against Thebes lie buried in that city (for Tydeus, cf. XIV 114), the Iliad agrees with the Thebaid’s account of a specific mythic subject which was reconstructed for the latter in the 1993 study (cf. Torres Guerra 1993, 171-173). 
Once it is established in § 3.3 that no contradiction exists between the situation of the Thebaid and the canon of the Theban saga presupposed in the IIiad, the author examines in § 3.4 whether this coincidence implies the mutual dependence of the two epics in one sense or other.

It is shown in section § 3.4 that on the rare occasions when the Thebaid and the Iliad present the same subject matter, what can be read in the fragments of the Thebaid or reconstructed for it suggest that it is always the primary text compared to the Iliad. It is argued in § 3.4 that this would appear to be the hypothesis of greatest explanatory power for the following cases:
  • The brief reference to the speed of Arion included in XXIII 345-346 and the condensed expression ὃς ἐκ θεόφιν γένος ἦεν (XXIII 347) may have arisen from the Thebaid where these subjects were treated more extensively (cf. F 7 and 8). 
  • Tydeus's exile, cryptically alluded to in X 119-120, must have received a more detailed treatment in the Thebaid (cf. F 5). 
  • Three passages from the Iliad refer briefly to Athena's function as Tydeus's tutelar goddess (IV 390; V 116; V 808); the relationship between the goddess and the hero must, on the other hand, have been dealt with in extensis in the Thebaid (cf. F 9). 
  • The brief characterization of Tydeus in V 801-804 seems to sum up well the psychology of this character just as it is presented to us by the facts narrated in fragment 9 of the Thebaid
The author underlines in the last section (§ 3.5) that, although the Iliad presumed in its public knowledge of the Thebaid, this does not permit us to trace back to this epic every allusion to the Theban saga included in the Trojan poem. It is possible that whilst keeping to a basic canon of facts from the Theban saga, Homer has introduced innovations according to the interests of his own work; this would seem to be the case for some aspects of the digression of IV 370-410.

The following chapter (§ 4) discusses the possibility that the Iliad might have readapted motifs from the Thebaid, in the same way as was done (according to the Neoanalysis school) with motifs from the Trojan cycle. In the introductory section (§ 4.1) some of the principles by which, according to the neoanalysts, the absorption of motifs is governed are explained, and previous works which have claimed to detect motifs taken from the Theban cycle are referred to (cf. Reinhardt 1961, 190-206, 267-277).

The cases of the following scenes or motifs in which parallels exist between the Iliad and the Thebaid are discussed in sections §§ 4.2 to 4.6:
  • A dispute (between Eteocles and Polyneices, or between Agamemnon and Achilles) is what sparks off the conflict in the two central epics of the Theban and Trojan epic cycles, the Thebaid and the Iliad (§ 4.2). 
  • The wall surrounding the Achaean encampment in the Iliad appears to be a replica of the Theban wall, inadequately adapted to the new context of the Trojan poem. It is argued that this wall is a motif of a specific rather than general type because it apparently has seven gates (cf. IX 79-88); in addition, the Trojans divide up their troops in order to attack different gates and this is a peculiarity of the motif which coincides with the situation which can be reconstructed for the Thebaid (§ 4.3). 
  • The outcome of the war in the Thebaid is made to depend on the duel between the two brothers which is already presupposed in the third fragment (cf. v. 4); the motif of the decisive duel, on whose outcome the end of the war depends, is also found in the Iliad (cf. III 92-94); the specific character of this motif is argued for and the case for its prior appearance in the Thebaid is discussed (§ 4.4). 
  • Fragment nine of the Thebaid recounts the death of Tydeus: this character, wounded by Melanippus, becomes furious and devours the brain of his enemy when Amphiaraus presents him with his head. Although Homer leaves these kinds of stories out of his poem, it is possible that the scene from the Thebaid has been readapted in the Iliad, in a passage in the fifth book (V 114-120) where he speaks of Diomedes' reaction, the son of Tydeus, to a wound received in combat (§ 4.5). 
  • Section § 4.6 defends the view that the Thebaid characterized Adrastus as a skilful orator; aspects of the figure of Nestor in the Iliad, as well as a comparison between fragment nine of Tyrtaeus and verses 713-714 of Theognis, indicate the similarity of characters and functions carried out by Nestor and Adrastus in the Iliad and the Thebaid
The following chapter (§ 5) deals with the research into the presumed Theban sources of the Odyssey; this research presents more difficulties because of the lack of references to the Theban saga in this epic. There are only three relevant passages: XI 271-280; XI 326-327; XV 243-248. In the same way as in § 3.1, in § 5.1 an edition of the passages is presented and what they tell us about the Theban saga is briefly explained.

Having noted the fragmentary nature of these allusions to the Theban saga, in the following two sections some specific problems are discussed:
  • § 5.2 looks at the case of XI 271-280, the only passage in the Odyssey in which Oedipus is spoken of; it is concluded from the study of this text that the image of Oedipus contained in book eleven of the Odyssey is incompatible with the situation of the Thebaid. If XI 271-280 does indeed suppose a specific epic version of the Theban saga, this would appear to be that of the Oedipodia
  • In § 5.3 the evidence concerning Amphiaraus (XI 326-327; XV 243-248) is discussed; it is deduced from the examination of the two relevant passages that the version of the Argive fortune-teller is compatible with that of the Thebaid, even if the likenesses between the two epics in this aspect are of such a general nature as to make it unnecessary to establish a relation between them. 
The lack of evidence does not allow us to discuss whether the Odyssey has re-worked motifs from the Theban cycle in general or from the Thebaid in particular. At the very most it could be argued that the appearance of Tiresias in the eleventh book is motivated by his appearance as a fortune-teller in the Theban saga; a number of arguments in favor of the hypothesis that the Odyssey has taken the motif of Tiresias from the Thebaid as the soothsayer who warns of a future from which the hero cannot escape are revised (§ 5.4).

Chapter 6 formulates the results of the study in function of the hypothesis proposed for examination at the outset, namely, the possibility that the Thebaid is one of the sources of the Iliad and the Odyssey. The final conclusion reached, with the cautiousness required by the limited nature of the evidence, is the following:
There are good arguments for considering that the Thebaid could have been one of Homer's “sources”, more probably in the case of the Iliad than the Odyssey. The specific way in which the Thebaid has influenced the Iliad and the Odyssey can be understood in different ways according to the position taken on the Homeric question. Finally, several possible interpretations of the results of this study are proposed from the unitarian, neoanalytical and oralist perspectives.


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DAVIES, M. (ed.) (1988), Epicorum Graecorum Fragmenta, Göttingen.
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KULLMANN, W. (1981), “Zur Methode der Neoanalyse in der Homerforschung”, Wiener Studien 15, 5-42.
KULLMANN, W. (1984), “Oral Poetry Theory and Neoanalysis in Homeric Research”, Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Studies 25, 307-324.
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