Writing and the Origins of Greek Literature
Professor Powell ties the origin and nature of archaic Greek literature to the special technology of Greek alphabetic writing. In building his model he presents chapters on specialized topics - text, orality, myth, literacy, tradition and memorization - and then shows how such special topics relate to larger issues of cultural transmission from East to West. Several chapters are devoted to the theory and history of writing, its definition and general nature as well as such individual developments as semasiography and logosyllabography, Chinese writing and the West Semitic family of syllabaries. He shows how the Greek alphabet put an end to the multiliteralism of Eastern traditions of writing, and how the recording of Homer and other early epic poetry cannot be separated from the alphabetic revolution. Finally, he explains how the creation of Greek alphabetic texts demoticized Greek myth and encouraged many free creations of new myths based on Eastern images.