Showing posts with label Homer. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Homer. Show all posts

Trojan War Myth or Reality?

Did the city of Troy really exist? Is the Trojan War myth or military reality? And what about that giant horse?

In the Greek poem The Iliad, the basis for Troy, Prince Paris of Troy steals the gorgeous Helen, of Greece, from her husband, King Menelaus. The act brings the two nations to war, and eventually Greeks led by the warrior Achilles lay siege to Troy. The poet Homer probably wrote the epic several hundred years after the war is supposed to have taken place. Much of it is no doubt fantasy. No evidence that Achilles or Helen exist.

Not single Event
Archaeologists who have been digging into the myth of Homer's poem believe the legendary war may have been a process rather than a single event. Eric Cline cline said Trojan war or wars took place, and that Homer chose to write about one or more of them by making it into a great ten-year-long saga.

Nine Cities of Troy
Archeologists who dig the placed said to be troy say , the site contains nine cities built on top of each other. There is a citadel in the middle and a town around it. A high wall fortified the town.
Eager to find the legendary treasures of Troy, Schliemann blasted his way down to the second city, where he found what he believed were the jewels that once belonged to Helen. As it turns out, the jewels were a thousand years older than the time described in Homer's epic.

Today archaeologists believe that the sixth and seventh oldest cities found in layers at Hisarlik are the best candidates for the Troy of The Iliad. Resplendent and strong, city number six looks like Homer's Troy. The problem is that this city's destruction in 1250 B.C. does not appear to have been caused by war but an earthquake.

Homer Clue
In The Iliad, the Greeks breach the city walls by hiding inside a giant horse, which they present as a gift to the Trojans. The Trojan horse could have been a metaphor for Poseidon, a god associated with horses who was both the god of the seas and earthquakes. "The suggestion is that Homer knew that the city he was describing had been destroyed by an earthquake," Cline said. "But that's not how you want to end your monumental saga—with a whimper. So he concocted this idea of a Trojan horse."

The seventh oldest city at the site, on the other hand, fits the description of a city under siege and destroyed by war in 1175 B.C. Archaeologists have found arrowheads in the streets. But the city itself was not as grand as the one described by Homer. cline said Homer may have taken the description of Troy 6 and the destruction of Troy 7, and, using poetic license, blurred the two into one ten-year-long war. But these are the words of people who have already agreed to trojan war and are searching for evidence.

Sea People
In the late Bronze Age, Troy, if located at the Hisarlik site, would have been a great prize for power-hungry kings. Perched at the entrance to the Black Sea, the city would have been at an international crossroads. The Greek Mycenaean empire would have lain to the west. The Hittite empire, which stretched from Mesopotamia to Syria, would have been to the east. As for its great wealth, Troy may have acquired that by taxing seafarers traveling into the Black Sea.
One theory suggests that the lesser known Sea Peoples wrecked Troy. Originally from what is now Italy, the Sea Peoples swept across the Mediterranean Sea from west to east. According to inscriptions found in Egypt, this group came through Troy at the time of the Trojan War, around 1200 B.C.

Hittites and Greece
Yet another theory, supported by ancient Hittite texts, suggests an intermittent, 200-year conflict that raged between the Hittite empire and a rebel coalition that included Troy. In this text, the Mycenaeans of Greece actually allied themselves with the Trojans against the Hittites. Archaeologists have found Mycenaean pottery in Troy 6, supporting the suggestion that the two nations were allies.

The least plausible explanation, most archaeologists agree, is that the Trojan War was fought over Helen, described by Homer as the most beautiful woman in the world. However, there is a historical precedent for a war being fought over an injustice done to a king. In the 14th century B.C., the Hittite king received a letter from the Egyptian queen. She said her husband had died and asked the Hittite king if he could send a son for her to marry. The Hittite eventually agreed and sent one of his sons. On his way to Egypt, however, the prince was killed. Believing the Egyptians killed him, the Hittites declared war on Egypt.

If the Hittites and the Egyptians could go to war in the 14th century over the son of the king, why wouldn't the Mycenaeans and Trojans go to war less than a hundred years later because the king's wife has been kidnapped? Cline asked. "One can't really rule out that it was fought over Helen, but at the moment we don't have any supporting data for that."

Romantic History
One thing is clear: The wars seem to have ended an age. "Homer is writing a memory of the end of the world," said Diane Thompson, author of The Trojan War: Literature and Legend from the Bronze Age to the Present. "Nostalgia fuels his writing, and it has fueled it ever since."

When the Roman poet Virgil in the first century B.C. rewrote Homer's story in his own classic The Aeneid, he turned the Greeks into scruffy villains and described the Trojans as beautiful losers who went on to found the Roman Empire. Through the ages, European people clung to this version—many of them tracing their ancestry back to Troy.

 Is Troy True? The Evidence Behind Movie Myth by Stefan Lovgren
National Geographic News May 14, 2004

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Date of Homer

Date of Homer is very controversial topic , There is very little detail on time he lived, placed he was born and details of his life. Seven cities claim to be his place of birth. The date of Homer represents the beginning of Western literature, So the date is given more prominence. Let us see some of the events on which date is fixed and discuss about them.

Herodotus placed Homer 400 years before him. according to which he would have lived 850BC. This date places him before first Olympiad that is 776BC. But scholars wonder if his poems can come down from such age. That time poetry and literature were written without punctions marks and other syntaxes that we see today. That time homer Ilyad and Odyssey were sung my masses. Later period they were written in proper form by the ancient greek scholars (around 530BC). This date claim is also based on claims that Hesiod and lyric poets as alluding to homer rather than common tradition.
But Jenko who gives the date on the basis of modernity of poems admits date is a assumption. And references to old expressions do not mean they are of Early date , as poets who deal with heroes tend to give iconic status by referring to ancient terms.

German Scholar P. A. Wolf Says that that odyssey and Iliad were not composed as distinct whole. They existed as separate epical Ballards consisting of single poem. They were written and composed by pisistratus and friends. This claim is not new , the Neapolitan writer vico. His arguement is based on the following.
  • No traces of writing exist prior to 620BC(40th Olympiad).
  • In Homer poems there is no single mention of any writing(No inscription, Coins)
  • complete absense of letter called Digamma
  • There are similarities in subjects and analysing them shows that they cannot be product of single mind.
So analysing the type of compositions and period of these cultures put the period not before 6th century BC.

Mycenaean civilization
Homer accurately depicts the Mycenaean civilization (1600BC to 1100BC )civilization along with his own timing accurately. So the date is put just after dark period (1100BC to 750BC). The question again comes to the fore, how can homer talk about events that took place several hundred years before.

3rd-1st century
Gregory Nagy tells that poems as scripture cannot have existed before Hellenistic period.

Burkert and West say that , Illiad refers to 6th and 7th century Egyptian tales of Thebes(663BC) and destruction of babylon (688BC). This again comes to how we refer to poems events. But some scholars have argued around this events saying that Homer is the main poet and subsequent poets have added them.

Trojan War and Ionian Migration
Aristarchus says homer lived at the time of Ionian migration which is 150 years after Trojan war(12 to 11century BC). Dating these are also controversial expressing everything in relation to one date by Aristarchus is a not acceptable proposition.

The competition between Egyptian(gods) , Chrisitian(moses) and Greek civilizations means that each is trying to date the other down and put their candidates upfront claiming themselves to be more ancient. So the dating controversies will never end.
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Dating Ancient Greek Civilization

Greek civilization is said to have started around 2800BC by many western scholars , eventhough we have no information about the Greek before 770BC. Let us analyse the facts.

Let us see the The Aegean Civilizations and how is Greek they are.
Before 2000BC we do not have any information

The first people on aegean were the Minoans from Crete. Their civilization lasted from about 2000-1400 BC. Their capital, Knossos, was the cultural center of the Aegean. What caused the Minoan civilization to decline? An older historical opinion said that the volcano on Thira (Santorini) erupted in 1450 BC and caused massive tidal waves, etc., that washed the Minoan civilization away. The new historical data dates the volcano eruption to the 17th century BC -- much too early to have been the cause of the Minoan decline. Now, scholars are debating what really happened. No one really knows.

The next civilization to rise in the Aegean was the Mycenaean Civilization which lasted from 1400-1200 BC. (In Homer, the Mycenaeans are called "Acheans.") These people were still not the "Greeks" who later ruled the region.

One theory states that the Mycenaeans really were the Greeks who came down from the north. What is known, however, is that the Greek speaking people came to the mainland around 1450 BC. Around 1400 BC, the Minoan civilization was destroyed. The culture of the Aegean shifted from the islands to the mainlands.

During the time of the Mycenaeans, the Hittites controlled much of Asia Minor. Their dates, 1450-1200 BC, coincide with the dates of the Mycenaeans. It is logical to say that the two cultures had to have communicated with one another although there is little scholarly evidence. This, too, is a point in Greek history that is often debated.

According to Greek tradition, the Trojan War happened around 1200 BC, near the end of the Mycenaean civilization. The old scholarly view was that the Mycenaeans were invaded by a Dorian tribe from the north who destroyed them. Currently, scholars believe the Mycenaeans declined because of fighting amongst themselves. This view is the most archeologically correct.

Greek Dark Ages
After the Mycenaean decline, the Greek Dark Ages occur (1100-750 BC). (Depending on when Homer is dated, he could have lived during this time period.) This period also has an old view/new view perspective. Older theories state that all Greek civilization came to a complete halt during the Dark Ages. Greeks later had to begin their civilization anew. The current historical opinion is that the Greeks still had some level of civilization -- they didn't revert to barbarianism -- but they lived simpler lives.

Despite being called the "dark ages," this period of Greek history led to many fantastic developments.
  • Greek speaking people migrated to the islands of the Aegean and the coast of Asia Minor in an exodus known as the Ionian Movement
  • The notion of the Polis or City-State was developed
  • The Greek alphabet was developed from Phoenician
Greek New Age
These three major developments led to the Greek New Age (750-500 BC). Other names for this period are: the Age of Colonization, the Lyric Age, the Archaic Age, and the Greek Renaissance. This period saw extensive colonization by the Greeks and their rivals, the Phoenicians. Art and literature increased, as well.

Classical Age
From 500-323 BC, Greece experienced the Classical Age. This is the period that most people think of when they hear "Greek civilization." There were two major wars during the Classical Age: the Persian Wars (499-449 BC) and the Great Peloponnesian War (431-404 BC).

The Classical Age continued for about another 100 years, but the Greek city-states were not able to withstand the invasion of Phillip of Macedonia and the expansions made by his son, Alexander the Great. In fact, the Classical Age's end is marked by the death of Alexander the Great.

As we can see the date markers like Homer, Trojan war, date of Ionian and Mycenaean decline is not known and there are about 400 years where there is no information about the greek. Western scholars have putting a very classical picture ,but as evidence we have nothing. The greek civilization developed due to proximity to Egypt, Syria, Palestine, the lands of Asia Minor, and the Mesopotamia valley. And western scholars have developed theories to somehow prove that Greek is independent and developed on its own not from adjoining civilizations.

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