Neoanalysis is a method of interpreting Homeric poetry that aims to discover the sources of the Iliad and the Odyssey. Like the 19th-century analysts, neoanalysts study the genetic aspect of the Homeric poems, but instead of trying to distinguish different layers or versions (Schichtenanalyse), they seek to identify source material from other poems that preceded the received Homeric epics.
The term “neoanalysis,” coined by Kakridis,1 was invented to describe a method of interpreting Homeric epic that responds to the analytical school which dissected the Iliad and Odyssey into smaller epics in order to arrive at the “proto-Iliad” (Urilias) and “proto-Odyssey” (Urodyssee) as the genuine works of Homer. Like the analytical school, neoanalysis locates poetic inconcinnities, gaps, and narrative fissures in the text, but unlike the analytical school it does not explain them as resulting from the work of different poets who added, omitted, and changed entire scenes and episodes. Instead, neoanalysis argues that these supposed problems can be explained by the transfer of motifs (and, to a lesser extent, of phraseology) from pre-Homeric poetry. Whereas, for the analytical school, poetic quality stems solely from Homeric ingenuity, for neoanalysis it results from the highly creative interaction of Homer with earlier epic poetry.