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social network analysis applied to fiction - badgerblog
July 11th, 2013
11:47 pm

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social network analysis applied to fiction
http://www.technologyreview.com/view/516081/the-remarkable-properties-of-mythological-social-networks/
Miranda and co say this is good evidence that the Odyssey is based, at least in part, on a real social network and so must be a mixture of myth and fact.



"Miranda and co think of each character in the Odyssey as a node in the network. They say a link exists between two characters when they meet in the story, when they speak directly to each other, cite one another to a third character or when it is otherwise clear that they know each other.

In analysing the Odyssey, they identified 342 unique characters and over 1,700 relations between them.

Having constructed the social network, Miranda and co then examined its structure. “Odyssey’s social network is small world, highly clustered, slightly hierarchical and resilient to random attacks,” they say.

What’s interesting about this conclusion is that these same characteristics all crop up in social networks in the real world. Miranda and co say this is good evidence that the Odyssey is based, at least in part, on a real social network and so must be a mixture of myth and fact.

This is not the first time that researchers have examined the social networks associated with ancient texts. Last year, researchers analysed three narratives in this way-Homer’s Iliad, the early English story Beowulf and the Irish epic poem Tain Bo Cuailnge.

They discovered that while the networks associated with Beowulf and the Iliad had many of the properties of real social networks, the network associated with Tain was less realistic."

Original paper Ref: arxiv.org/abs/1306.2537: Analysis Of Communities In A Mythological Social Network

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