August 29, 2006

Dumb theory of the day: Odyssey and Iliad were written by a woman

... according to a British "scholar". Never mind that there is no single mention of a female author of these poems, or any epic poetry at all. Never mind that the authorship of the Iliad and the Odyssey was universally attributed to Homer in historical times by all Greeks who ever bothered to mention what was common knowledge. Never mind that the poems universally assign the role of story teller to men, and confine women to domestic pursuits. What is the "scholar"'s evidence?
Dalby explained that women throughout the ancient world were "often the last and most skillful exponents of an oral tradition."

For example, the world’s first named poet was a Sumerian woman named Enheduanna, who lived from around 2285-2250 B.C. Dalby said women also saved the ancient oral poetry of the northern Japanese, many Irish traditions, and numerous English folk ballads.

Another recent book, Clever Maids: The Secret History of the Grimm Fairy Tales, claims the Brothers Grimm gathered most of their famous stories from women. Author Valerie Paradiz told Discovery News that the brothers "only gave credit to one woman by name," but then linked most other tales to male editors who also gathered stories from women.
Yep, the Sumerians, Japanese, Irish, English and the Brothers Grimm did it, ergo the Iliad was written by a woman. QED. Mr. Darby gives us his own scholarly "guesses" too:
If the poet was a woman, Dalby believes her name is probably lost to history.

"I would guess that Sappho (a female Greek poet) and her contemporary, the male poet Alkaios, probably knew the name, but they did not mention it in their own poetry," Dalby said.
Well, too bad they never said anything about it. How convenient for Mr. Dalby's speculations! If anyone is still wondering Who Killed Homer? now we have an answer: Mr. Dalby, and "scholars" like him.

PS: I don't mind people writing what they want. We should not however award any respect to crackpots. Mr. Dalby's theory belongs in the same category as the "Merovingians were descended from Jesus Christ" or "Homer in the Baltic".

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