Accessibility navigation


Linguistic evidence supports date for Homeric epics

Altschuler, E. L., Calude, A., Meade, A. and Pagel, M. (2013) Linguistic evidence supports date for Homeric epics. Bioessays, 35 (5). pp. 417-420. ISSN 0265-9247

Full text not archived in this repository.

To link to this item DOI: 10.1002/bies.201200165

Abstract/Summary

The Homeric epics are among the greatest masterpieces of literature, but when they were produced is not known with certainty. Here we apply evolutionary-linguistic phylogenetic statistical methods to differences in Homeric, Modern Greek and ancient Hittite vocabulary items to estimate a date of approximately 710–760 BCE for these great works. Our analysis compared a common set of vocabulary items among the three pairs of languages, recording for each item whether the words in the two languages were cognate – derived from a shared ancestral word – or not. We then used a likelihood-based Markov chain Monte Carlo procedure to estimate the most probable times in years separating these languages given the percentage of words they shared, combined with knowledge of the rates at which different words change. Our date for the epics is in close agreement with historians' and classicists' beliefs derived from historical and archaeological sources.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Biological Sciences > Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
ID Code:33426
Publisher:Wiley

University Staff: Request a correction | Centaur Editors: Update this record

Page navigation