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Dr. Larsen, you asked:
>Is there possibly a common origin for both Hebrew stress and
>durational notation and the thesis arsis of greek poetry?
I think that we are looking at two different things here: 1) writing
systems and 2) poetic techniques.
As far (1) goes: Yes, there _is_ a common origin of writing systems.
The Hebrew system we see in the Qumran documents is the Phoenician
system: variant forms and stress and durational notation and all.
Greeks (possibly Ionians) borrowed the Phoenician writing system
sometime around the 9th century BCE.
Number (2), is not so clear cut; it is obvious that we are talking
about peoples who interacted culturally from a very early date. On
the other hand, we do have some indicators. Although poets in both
cultures use the entire range of a poet's bag of tricks, from the
very beginning way back to oldest records, the _emphasis_ is quite
different. Greek poetry is bound by metrics; Hebrew, Canaanite, and
Akkadian poetry are bound by parallelism and sound play. Greek poetry
pays great attention to the correct scansion of lines; Hebrew poetry,
while it can be quite metrical (e.g. the majority of Psalms 51-150),
pays great attention to the play of sound-to-sense and has more in
common with English blank verse.
The earliest Greek written records show variant forms, and stress and
durational notation - particularly among the Ionians and the Western
Greeks. By the late 5th-early 4th century, BCE, however, the Attic
version prevailed and the Greek writing systems went bilinear: variant
forms and stress and durational notation disappear. This means that
by the time the technical terms 'thesis' and 'arsis' turn up (and we
do not know if Homer or Hesiod would have used them), the dominant
Greek writing system no longer used stress or durational notation.
As a result, when the earliest known Greek attempt to create musical
notation systems appears ca. 2nd century BCE, instrumental indicators
are written IN the text and melodic and dynamic information ABOVE the
text (P. Vindob. G. 2315 - a fragment of Euripides' _Orestes_)... but
even here, we should bear in mind that this papyrus is from Egypt and
may not reflect what was happening on the mainland.
>From the evidence of ancient poetry and the direction taken by the
dominant Greek writing system, I do not believe that the Greek thesis/
arsis metrical balance poesy has much to do with the Hebraic notational
systems used in the writing system they both borrowed from a common source.
>Does stress notation record the downbeat of ancient religious round
>dances and songs sung while circumambulating the altar or the
It may ... in so far as the word giving the downbeat would be stressed.
The entire Hebraic writing system, including their chironomic musical
notation system, was adopted by the early Christians. Preserved in toto
in vernacular documents, the major concern was on giving directions as
to the number of singers, responsive singing, Psalm formulae, etc. They
do not appear to have concerned themselves with ritual dances (although
there are enough recorded complaints about people dancing in the church-
Dr. Rochelle I. Altman, co-coordinator IOUDAIOS-L email@example.com
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