This week at GIS we had two fascinating presentations by Michael Loy and Daniel Anderson, respectively talking about the archaeological study of sea routes in the Aegean sea and cases of poetic ambiguity in Greek poetry.
In the first part of the seminar, Michael presented a paper entitled: “In a boat or in an armchair? Charting routes around the Aegean Sea”. As the archaeological study of routes is by no means simple, and each line we plot on a map is at best a probability that certain paths were taken, Michael’s paper aimed to tackle this issue by proposing a comparative and statistical analysis of three types of evidence pertaining to ancient seafaring, in order to think through how the Aegean Sea might have been crossed in antiquity. First of all, he proposed the historical analysis of a large corpus of travelogues and itineraries of the routes taken by post-medieval and early-modern explorers, up to the invention of the steamer in the late 1800s. Secondly, his paper looked at the organisation of the islands in historic encyclopaedias and in the literature of Archaic Greece. Finally, Michael has presented on how network analysis and cost-surfaces can be used to produce another layer of pathfinding data, with the aim of discussing the implications which his data highlight for how we think about the Aegean as a navigable space. To find out more about the topic, Michael’s blogs on Res Gerendae are available at the following links:
In the second part of the seminar, Daniel spoke about ‘Greek Word-Division Puns from Homer to Hermesianax’. His talk considered some examples of poetic ambiguity caused by unexpected word-division. Beginning with a well-known instance of a Homeric sound effect, speaking names were discussed in relation to Hellenistic and Roman ‘discoveries’ of names in the Homeric and Hesiodic poems. The paper contrasted this tradition from another, involving Odysseus’ well-known pseudonym Οὖτις: this brought to light a previously unseen speaking-name in Hipponax. The talk ended with some examples of reworked song lyrics in Old Comedy, where a new division of letters leads to the expression of strikingly new sentiments. These diverse examples of work-division puns all helped to throw new light on the Homeric effect with which the talk began.