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American Philological Association Mnemosyne in Oral Literature Author(s): James A. Notopoulos Source: Transactions and Proceedings of the American Philological Association, Vol. 69 (1938), pp. 465-493 Published by: The Johns Hopkins University Press Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/283194 . Accessed: 04/10/2014 15:43 Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at . http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp . JSTOR is
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   merican Philological ssociation Mnemosyne in Oral LiteratureAuthor(s): James A. NotopoulosSource: Transactions and Proceedings of the American Philological Association, Vol. 69 (1938),pp. 465-493Published by: The Johns Hopkins University Press Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/283194 . Accessed: 04/10/2014 15:43 Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at  . http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp  . JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new formsof scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org.  .  American Philological Association  and The Johns Hopkins University Press  are collaborating with JSTOR todigitize, preserve and extend access to Transactions and Proceedings of the American Philological Association. http://www.jstor.org This content downloaded from 193.144.81.200 on Sat, 4 Oct 2014 15:43:48 PMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions  Vol. lxix] Mnemosyne n Oral Literature 465 XVI.-Mnemosyne in Oral Literature JAMES A. NOTOPOULOS TRINITY COLLEGE The work of the late Milman Parry, on Homer, has con- tributed much to an understanding f the differences n litera- tures created by the spoken rather than the written word. Approaching he Homeric poems as oral poetry he proceeded on the principle of Aristarchus of getting the solution from the text, X K ris MewS XVUL. Using form s the clue to func- tion, and style as establishing the character of thought, he reconstructed he oral basis of the Homeric poems. In a series of brilliant papers he has laid a new foundation for the study of Homer. It is time now to apply the results of his work to certain problems which are implicit n the oral literature f the Greeks. Among these is the importance f Mnemosyne. When Greek oral literature was committed o writing we find mbedded in it the mention of Mnemosyne, which s the personification f an important nd vital force n oral com- position. Its importance s evident in the prominent lace it occupies in early Greek theology. Hesiod tells us that Earth lay with Heaven, and from his primaeval union were born Theia, Rhea, Themis, and Mnemosyne.2 These Titans, says Rose, are very ancient figures, ittle worshipped ny- where n historical Greece, and belonging o a past so remote that the earliest Greeks of whose opinions we have any certain knowledge saw them surrounded with a haze of extreme antiquity. The inclusion f Mnemosyne s one of the most 1 For a bibliography f. H. Levin, Portrait f a Homeric cholar, Classical Journal xxxii (1937), 266. 2 Theogony 45f. 3 H. J. Rose, Handbook f Greek Mythology New York, E. P. Dutton, 1929), 21. This content downloaded from 193.144.81.200 on Sat, 4 Oct 2014 15:43:48 PMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions  466 James A. Notopoulos [1938 ancient deities is evidence of the importance n which this function was held by the earliest Greeks. But the inclusion of Mnemosyne mong the Titans is puzzling. Mnemosyne, says Rose, is a pure abstraction, Memory personified, nd clearly has no business among the Titans proper. It is evident, however, that this legend preserves the primaeval importance f memory mong pre-literate reeks, nd, rightly or wrongly, he is included among the Titans, the first en- eration of the theogony f Earth and Heaven. Hesiod, stand- ing at the threshold f the post-heroic ge, has preserved for us a legend which reveals the importance of Memory among oral peoples. Folk-memory as preserved n this legend the once supreme mportance f a divinity who sank into a minor cult 5 with the advent of written iterature. Supplementing Hesiod on the question of the importance f memory n the oral literature f the early Greeks is the evi- dence of the Homeric Hymn to Hermes, dated not later than the seventh century.6 When Hermes discovered the lyre, he sang the story f the mmortal ods, and in his song he honored Mnemosyne, he mother of the Muses, first mong the gods, for, ays the poem significantly, the son of Maia was of her following. Then follow the rest of the gods in the order of their age, thus revealing the first rank that Mnemosyne occupied as a goddess in the theology of oral peoples. The further we go into the development of written iterature, he less important Mnemosyne becomes as the written word tri- umphed over memory nd the spoken word. But even so, the written iterature from he sixth century on reflects he part that memory nce played in oral poetry, now no longer a living force ut a convention which poets nvoke s a prelude. In Solon's time Memory and the Muses were crystallized nto 4 Op. cit. (see note 3), 21. 5 Cf. .G. II.2 4692; Schol. Oedipus Col. 100. 6 T. W. Allen, W. R. Halliday, E. E. Sikes, The Homeric Hymns2 (Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1936), 276. 7 Hymn to Hermes 429; cf. Pap. Lond. 46.115. This content downloaded from 193.144.81.200 on Sat, 4 Oct 2014 15:43:48 PMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions  Vol. lxix] Mnemosyne n Oral Literature 467 an elegiac formula: Mvrn,uoavVn7s at Zqvo6s OXvpArtov 'yXaa rf4Kva MoivaaL HLepPLUS, XVIre ot e1xoof'vy. Terpander echoes it in a different etrical form: 21r&vSwliev rats Mva,uas iratauv Mct,uats . The poet in the fifth nd fourth enturies till kept up the convention. Euripides in Hercules Furens has the poet sing of Memory: En rot yEpwv o- 8os KEXALae Mva,uoavvav 10 alluding to the old oral poet, the yr:pwzv f Homeric poetry, who exercised his craft by means of -memory. This asso- ciation of the poet with Memory had already in the fourth century become a commonplace, as Plato's remark reveals: Ka6a7rEp ot irottral, 8o/IaL apxolievos ri7s b7y aews Movaas re Kal Mvrniooiavnv VriTKaXeZOat. 11 All these references o Mnemosyne n the written iterature of Greece are echoes of a once significant orce in an oral literature. Memory n written iterature s essentially based on the written word, whereas for the oral poet it was entirely associated with the spoken word. The Iliad and the Odyssey, unlike the Aeneid, are not products of written iterature, ut of an age in which the spoken word was the basis of creation. Man in primitive Greek society was, as Marcel Jousse points out in his penetrating book on Le Style Oral, a mnemo- technician. The dactylic hexameter s the product of oral 8 Solon 13 (Poetae lyrici Graeci,4 d. T. Bergk [Leipzig, Teubner, 18821); cf. G. Kaibel, Epigrammata Graeca Berlin, G. Reimer, 1878), 789; A. Plassart, Inscriptions de Thespies, Bulletin de Correspondance ellenique (1926), 403. 9 Terpander No. 3 (Bergk). 10 Hercules Furens 679. 11 Euthydemus 275 d; cf. Pindar 01. vIII.74. This content downloaded from 193.144.81.200 on Sat, 4 Oct 2014 15:43:48 PMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

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