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Bruno Snell

German classical philologist
Let us explain Homer in no terms but his own, and our understanding of the work will be the fresher for it.
The scholar too, like the restorer of an old painting, may yet in many places remove the dark coating of dust and varnish which the centuries have drawn over the picture, and thus give back to the colours their original brilliance.

Bruno Snell (18 June 1896 – 31 October 1986) was a German classical philologist. From 1931 to 1959 he held a chair for classical philology at the University of Hamburg where he established the Thesaurus Linguae Graecae research centre in 1944.

QuotesEdit

The Discovery of the Mind: The Greek Origins of European Thought (1953)Edit

  • Since the time of Aristarchus, the great Alexandrian scholar, it has been the rule among philologists not to base the interpretation of Homeric words on references to classical Greek, and not to allow themselves to be influenced by the usage of a later generation when investigating Homeric speech. Today we may expect even richer rewards from this rule than Aristarchus hoped to glean for himself. Let us explain Homer in no terms but his own, and our understanding of the work will be the fresher for it. Once the words are grasped with greater precision in their meaning and relevance, they will suddenly recover all their ancient splendour. The scholar too, like the restorer of an old painting, may yet in many places remove the dark coating of dust and varnish which the centuries have drawn over the picture, and thus give back to the colours their original brilliance.
  • θεωρεῖν was not in origin a verb, but was derived from a noun: θεωρός; its basic meaning is 'to be a spectator'. Soon, however, it came to mean: 'to look on', 'to contemplate'. Whatever the word may have conveyed in its initial stages, in the contexts in which we have it, it does not reflect an attitude, nor an emotion linked with the sight, nor the viewing of a particular object; instead it represents an intensification of the normal and essential function of the eyes. The stress lies on the fact that the eye apprehends an object. Evidently, then, this new word expresses the very aspect which in the earlier verbs had been played down, but which to us conveys the real substance of the operation known as 'sight'.

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