Homer’s Literary Legacy – IELTS Reading Answers
In the Academic Reading practice test, “Homer’s Literacy Legacy”, there are questions of various question types.
Each of these question types are asked in the IELTS Reading exam. So, the passages given in this practice set will help you enhance your reading and understanding capabilities.
You should spend 20 minutes on questions 26-40 based on the reading passage below.
Homer’s Literary Legacy
|26||E||Paragraph E mentions that in 1795, the German philologist Friedrich August Wolf argued for the first time that not only were ‘Homer’s works’ not written down by Homer, but they weren’t even by Homer. They, which refers to the Odyssey and Iliad, ‘were a loose collection of songs’ (and not poems in original form) transmitted by generations of Greek bards, and only redacted in their present form at some later date. Hence, the answer is E.|
|27||D||Paragraph D points out that Jean-Jacques Rousseau was one of the first modern critics to suggest that Homer might not have been ‘an author in the contemporary sense’ which is defined/reinterpreted as ‘a single person who sat down and wrote a story and then published it for others to read’. Hence, the answer is D.|
|28||C||Paragraph C refers to the fact that there were ‘no historical records of Homer’, and ‘no trustworthy biography of the man exists’ beyond a few self-referential hints embedded in the texts themselves. So, it can be concluded that we have very little knowledge about Homer and his life. Hence, the answer is C.|
|29||E||Paragraph E provides a reference to an eighteen year old scholar named Milman Parry who had discovered what Wood and Wolf had missed: the evidence that the poems had been transmitted orally was right there in the text itself. All those ‘stylistic quirks, including the formulaic and recurring plot elements and the bizarrely repetitive epithets’. Parry compares the presence of these features of the poems to pottery, another art form and says they were ‘like thumbprints left by a potter’, which means that they were material evidence of how the poems had been crafted. Hence, the answer is E.|
|30||A||Paragraph A offers some examples of people who were employed to recall language. In India, an ‘entire class of priests’ was charged with ‘memorizing the Vedas’ with perfect fidelity. In ‘pre-Islamic Arabia, people known as Rawis’ were often attached to poets as ‘official memorizers’. The ‘Buddha’s teachings were passed down’ in an ‘unbroken chain of oral tradition’ for four centuries until they were committed to writing in Sri Lanka in the first century B.C. These examples show that language was recollected through the oral creations of these people, generations after generation, until they were written down. Hence, the answer is A.|
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|31||B||Paragraph B asks some questions about Homer’s work that points out the doubt about the appropriate use of description for the characters. ‘Odysseus was always ’clever Odysseus’. Dawn was always ‘rosy-fingered’. Why would someone write that?’ Sometimes the ‘epithets seemed completely off-key’ (inappropriate or unrelated). The author questions why the murderer of Agamemnon had been called ‘blameless Aegisthos’ or why refer to Achilles as ‘swift-footed’ even when he was sitting down, or why Homer referred to Aphrodite as ‘laughing Aphrodite’ even when she was in tears. Hence, the answer is B.|
|32||D||Paragraph D cites that in his 1781 Essay on the Origin of Languages, the Swiss philosopher, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, suggested that the ‘Odyssey and Iliad’ might have been ‘written only in men’s memories’ (existed in oral form). Somewhat ‘later’ (after quite some time) ‘they were laboriously collected in writing’ (written down). Hence, the answer is D (A famous Swiss philosopher suggested that the poems might have existed in the oral form for quite some time before they were
|33||C||Paragraph C brings out the fact that there was unease about these earliest works of literature, the Odyssey and Iliad. Questions like how could Greek literature have been born out of nothing with ‘two masterpieces’ (creations, here, poems, of high artistic quality) were being asked. Surely ‘a few less perfect stories must have come before’ (poems of lesser quality have been present before that to show that experiments had led to the masterpieces), and yet these two were among the first on record. Hence, the answer is C (The artistic quality of the poems is so high that there must have been other poems written before).|
|34||B||Paragraph E relates that in 1795, the German philologist Friedrich August Wolf argued for the first time that not only were ‘Homer’s works not written down by Homer’, but ‘they weren’t even by Homer’. He further added that they were a loose collection of songs transmitted by generations of Greek bards, and only redacted in their present form at some later date. Hence, the answer is B (Neither the Odyssey nor the lliad were written by Homer).|
|35||C||Paragraph E discusses that an eighteen-year-old scholar named Milman Parry had discovered what Wood and Wolf had missed: the evidence that ‘the poems’ (the Odyssey and lliad) ‘had been transmitted orally’ was right there in the text itself. This refers to the fact that they were not written down while they were created by Homer. The writing of the epics took place much later. Hence, the answer is C (Homer created the Odyssey and lliad without writing them down).|
|36||generation||Paragraph A informs that until the last tick of history’s clock, ‘cultural transmission meant oral transmission’ (knowledge in a particular culture or community was passed orally), and ‘poetry’, ‘passed from mouth to ear’ (spoken or oral), was the ‘principal medium of moving information’ (medium of transmission) across space and ‘from one generation to the next’. Hence, the answer is ‘generation’.|
|37||citizen||In paragraph A, the classicist Eric Havelock argues that ‘oral poetry was a ‘massive repository of useful knowledge’, a sort of encyclopedia of ethics, ‘politics, history’ and technology which the effective ‘citizen’ was ‘required to learn’ (duty) as the core of his educational equipment’. So, it was the duty of the citizen to know poetry so that he could learn more about other subjects as oral poetry was the main mode of transmission of knowledge. Hence, the answer is ‘citizen’.|
|38||abstract||Paragraph F highlights the principles that the oral bards discovered as they sharpened their stories through telling and retelling were the same ‘mnemonic principles that psychologists rediscovered’ when they began conducting their first scientific experiments on memory around the turn of the twentieth century. Words that rhyme are much more memorable than words that don’t, and ‘concrete nouns are easier to remember than abstract ones’ (it is difficult to remember words that express abstract ideas). Hence, the answer is ‘abstract’.|
|39||music||Paragraph F tells us that ‘words that rhyme are much more memorable’ than words that don’t. Finding patterns and structure in information is how ‘our brains extract meaning from the world’, and ‘putting words’ (words which sound similar to or go together with) to ‘music’ and rhyme is ‘a way of adding extra levels of pattern and structure to language’. So, if music or rhyme is added to words, those words can be easily remembered. Hence, the answer is ‘music’.|
|40||mnemonic||Paragraph E All those ‘stylistic quirks, including the formulaic and recurring plot elements and the bizarrely repetitive epithets (cliches) – ‘clever Odysseus’ and ‘gray-eyed Athena’ – that had always perplexed readers were actually like thumbprints left by a potter: material evidence of how the poems had been crafted. They were ‘mnemonic aids’ that helped the bards ‘fit the meter and pattern of the line’ (other facilitating things), and ‘remember the essence of the poems’ (memorise).
Hence, the answer is ‘mnemonic’.
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