The principle of formular economy is to protect an oral poet’s thesaurus of formulas against overload through the avoidance of metrical doublets. Being specific to oral poetry, it serves as the chief criterion for determining the orality of a text (known as the ‘economy test of orality’). Parryism’s Theory of the Oral Homer is predicated on the assumption of the poet’s strict observance of this principle. This study, examining the hitherto untested Parryist assumption, reveals a high frequency of breaches of economy in Homer, and demonstrates that these are for the most part motivated by poetic considerations. It arrives at the conclusion that formular economy and the resulting schematized diction are residual in the Homeric epics where they yield to a largely schema-free style of composition.
Franz Steiner Verlag