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Trojan War

  1. Oct 22, 2005 #1

    wolram

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    I had little interest in some thing written by Homer 500yrs after the fact, prefering to think the Trojan war a myth, however archealogical evidence
    is giving some bones to the the myth, i guess we will never know if there
    was a "wooden horse" or if the characters in Homers story took part in this
    war, what can be said is there is a ruined city in the right place dating to the
    right time.
    http://www.archaeology.org/0405/etc/troy.html/troy3.html
     
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2005
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  3. Oct 22, 2005 #2

    wolram

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    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homer

    The excavations of Heinrich Schliemann in the late 19th century began to convince scholars there was a historical basis for the Trojan War. Research (pioneered by the aforementioned Parry and Lord) into oral epics in Serbo-Croatian and Turkic languages began to convince scholars that long poems could be preserved with consistency by oral cultures until someone bothered to write them down. The decipherment of Linear B in the 1950s by Michael Ventris and others, convinced scholars of a linguistic continuity between 13th century BC Mycenaean writings and the poems attributed to Homer.
     
  4. Oct 22, 2005 #3

    wolram

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  5. Oct 24, 2005 #4

    marcus

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    I'm listening

    Wolram you are doing the research and telling us about Homer in this thread. I am reading your links. It is interesting, but i dont have much additional information to supply, so unless someone else volunteers it is up to you.

    Have a look at:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mycenae

    Until 1200 BC the dominant power in Greece was Mycenae and they had WRITING.

    Then Mycenaean civilization fell (1200-1100 BC??) and the people of greece and ionia (the Aegean islands and shore of presentday Turkey) FORGOT HOW TO WRITE.

    that is amazing. Writing is such a useful technology that it is hard for me to imagine a catastrophe or invasion or some such historical shock so traumatic that it would make everybody forget how to read and write.

    But Television has done a pretty good job at making Americans illiterate, so maybe it is not so surprising.

    Anyway, I imagine that the Trojan War occurred around 1200 BC and that Homer lived sometime in the 700s BC (the eighth century) during their illiterate DARK AGES and that his epic verse was written down sometime in the 500s BC.

    My private opinion is that to understand why the Illiad and Odyssey have so much prestige you have to read Euclid and Aristarchus and Archimedes and look at the sculpture and the drawings on the ceramics.

    The people who wrote the Old Testament were better liars and storytellers.
    The Old Testament has a lot of sensationalist trash action/adventure novel with plenty of sex and colorful weird stuff thrown in. It's lies that you want to believe because it's so well told, with such piercing detail. It is more fun to read than the Iliad. IMHO. But the Greeks were way better Artists and Shipbuilders and Mathematicians and Astronomers and Inventors and Engineers. There is no evidence that the writers of the Old Testament came anywhere near the Greek level in any of these categories.

    The Iliad has some grand scenes, but it can also put you to sleep. I think we honor it because we know it is the national poem of the Greeks and we have to honor the Greeks well, because Hipparchus measured the distance to the moon around 140 BC and he got it right to within better than 5 percent accuracy. No other ancient people did that kind of thing. they didnt even think to ASK.

    I know someone who has done a new translation of the Odyssey (published by Michigan Univ. press) and is working on the Iliad. His thing is to preserve the original rhythm---dactylic hexameter---so that his translation reproduces some of the original rock and roll music of Homer. I have heard him read many books of the Odyssey aloud and it's great.

    Rodney Merrill is the only modern translator into English who has made it true to the original in this way
    here is the amazon page for his Odyssey
    http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0472088548/104-5389887-1420725

    and since amazon does not have a photo, here is a Powells.com page that shows the way the book looks:

    http://www.powells.com/cgi-bin/biblio?inkey=65-0472088548-1
     
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2005
  6. Oct 24, 2005 #5

    Astronuc

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    As for writing and literacy, one has to think about who were the literates approximately 3000 years ago, i.e. what portion of the population was literate. Certainly if out of several hundred thousand people, there were a few dozen, score or hundreds who were literate, then it could be that due to disease or war, or other misfortune, perhaps most literates died off. Perhaps some survived to pass on the skill.

    As for the old testament, one may wish to read "The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology's New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts" (Paperback) by Neil Asher Silberman and Israel Finkelstein. It's not so much lies as mythology and interpretation of history.
     
  7. Oct 24, 2005 #6

    wolram

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    Hi, Marcus, Astro.

    There is so much written about Homer and Troy that makes it is difficult to see the tree for the woods.
    From my understanding,Troy is located in Anatolia north west turkey, and the
    Trojan war has been placed, by various ancient historians in the 12th, 13th and
    14th century BC, Troy has been rebuilt many times over the centuries, what the
    archealogists call Troy V11, dating to the 13th century is the most cited case
    for the Troy of Homer.
    I guess if some agreement to the date and location of the Troy of the Trojan
    war can be met then some progress can be made.:smile:
     
  8. Oct 24, 2005 #7

    wolram

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  9. Oct 24, 2005 #8

    marcus

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    Usually one considers literature as a higher artform than ethnic propaganda
    but somehow I find that the OT of the Bible turns my values upside down.

    the nation-myth of being in captivity in Egypt (written at a time when IIRC many were forcibly dispersed through the Babylonian empire) and being led out by Moses is brilliant.

    call it myth, ethnic consciousness-raising propaganda, or literature----it is a narrative invention of unequaled brilliance however classified.

    A nation's story is a mirror in which the people of the community can see themselves reflected in. It serves to unify them and give them resiliance and survivability.

    And even though it seems like an irrelevant question to ask, there will always be lively brains who are asking "did this really happen?" "where WAS Troy? "where WAS the Temple?". And this continual prodding serves to WAKE THE STORIES UP so they don't go to sleep on us.
     
  10. Oct 24, 2005 #9

    marcus

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    Maybe this book mentioned by Astronuc should have a thread.

    The basic question it asks is essentially the same a what has already been asked about the Iliad. How much of the the Troy War story is real, how much is myth? What function did the telling of the myth serve for the Dark Age Dorians who sat around listening to it and nursing their bowl of mead?

    ===================
    REVIEW/BLURB for Astronuc's book:

    Amazon.com's Best of 2001

    "The Bible Unearthed is a balanced, thoughtful, bold reconsideration of the historical period that produced the Hebrew Bible. The headline news in this book is easy to pick out: there is no evidence for the existence of Abraham, or any of the Patriarchs; ditto for Moses and the Exodus; and the same goes for the whole period of Judges and the united monarchy of David and Solomon. In fact, the authors argue that it is impossible to say much of anything about ancient Israel until the seventh century B.C., around the time of the reign of King Josiah. In that period, "the narrative of the Bible was uniquely suited to further the religious reform and territorial ambitions of Judah." Yet the authors deny that their arguments should be construed as compromising the Bible's power. Only in the 18th century--"when the Hebrew Bible began to be dissected and studied in isolation from its powerful function in community life"--did readers begin to view the Bible as a source of empirically verifiable history. For most of its life, the Bible has been what Finkelstein and Silberman reveal it once more to be: an eloquent expression of "the deeply rooted sense of shared origins, experiences, and destiny that every human community needs in order to survive," written in such a way as to encompass "the men, women, and children, the rich, the poor, and the destitute of an entire community." --Michael Joseph Gross--"

    From Publishers Weekly

    "Finkelstein, director of Tel Aviv University's excavations at Megiddo (ancient Armageddon), and Silberman, author of a series of successful and intriguing books on the political and cultural dimensions of archeology, present for the first time to a general audience the results of recent research, which reveals more clearly that while the Bible may be the most important piece of Western literature--serving concrete political, cultural and religious purposes--many of the events recorded in the Old Testament are not historically accurate. Finkelstein and Silberman do not aim to undermine the Bible's import, but to demonstrate why it became the basic document for a distinct religious community under particular political circumstances. For example, they maintain that the Exodus was not a single dramatic event, as described in the second book of the Bible, but rather a series of occurrences over a long period of time. The Old Testament account is, according to the authors, neither historical truth nor literary fiction, but a powerful expression of memory and hope constructed to serve particular political purposes at the time it was composed. The authors claim quite convincingly that the kingdoms of Israel and Judah became radically different regions even before the time of King David; the northern lands were densely populated, with a booming agriculture-based economy, while the southern region was sparsely populated by migratory pastoral groups. Furthermore, they contend, "we still have no hard archaeological evidence--despite the unparalleled biblical description of its grandeur--that Jerusalem was anything more than a modest highland village in the time of David, Solomon, and Rehoboam." Fresh, stimulating and highly engaging, this book will hold greatest appeal for readers familiar with the Bible, in particular the Old Testament--unfortunately, a shrinking percentage of the population. 16 pages of b&w photos..."
     
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2005
  11. Oct 24, 2005 #10

    wolram

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    Marcus, rather than awakening stories i find the more that one looks at history the more unreal it gets, i feel let down by historians and the way
    myth is portrayed as history, it is kind of sad that a hand full of authors
    can distort the truth and this truth is taught as fact for centuries, what
    i find strange is that only this distorted truth survives in literature, what
    happened to the honest joes, was it only liars that could write?
     
  12. Oct 25, 2005 #11

    wolram

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    Delving a bit deeper according to articles i have found," Arcadia", present day
    capital Tripoli, was not invaded by the Dorians, due to its remote mounainous
    character, So why was the Mycenaean language and writing, "lost", in this
    part of the country ?

    It is understandable for Sparta and Crete, as the Dorians created a military ruling class, this ruling
    class froze the archaic cultures of ancient Greece and reduced the population to surfdom.

    And why are the Dorians regarded as primitive? from some reading they may have had iron swords.
     
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2005
  13. Oct 25, 2005 #12

    marcus

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    this is a really basic question.

    Herodotus tried to get at the truth, and when confronted only by lies he was fairly careful to mention who told them---to give his sources. But sometimes he seems a mite credulous. His sources impose on him. He traveled to Egypt and Persia to get people's stories of their history and to hear the other side of what he had been told as a Greek.

    IIRC About half the Icelandic family sagas are factual----and corroborate each other. The various families were proud of their exploits and the strong personalities of their male and female ancestors. They wanted to keep it true--warts and all---thought it was better that way. But others of the Icelandic sagas have fairytale, fabulous elements---gods, magicians etc. Nobody is perfect.

    the question, the way you put it, is almost an epigram
    it could be carved in the doorframe over the door of the history department of some college--wouldnt be inappropriate IMO
     
  14. Oct 25, 2005 #13

    marcus

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    this is another great question. It makes me think of modern parallels
     
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