I work the other way around and take as a working hypothesis that he does describe real events. I then try to build a picture using Homer, other ancient texts and archaeology etc.1. Does Homer describe any real events? What is the evidence for this?
There is evidence from Hittite records that the Mycenaeans were at least known in NW Anatolia at that time.
In the Odyssey Homer describes an eclipse. 'Experts':
Physicist Marcelo Magnasco and astronomer Constantino Baikouzis of Rockefeller University in 2008 gave a date of 16th April 1178.
Professor Papadima, astrophysicist at the University of Athens Panagiota Preka, in 2016 gave a date of 30th October
NB: Homer could not have witnessed this eclipse as he was not around until several hundred years later. If Homer was not the witness, then they have no idea where the witness was located, so they cannot be certain that they have the correct eclipse. (They assume that Homer was in Ionia, largely because the earliest manuscripts are written in Ionian Greek - given that none of the MSS are thought to be actually written by Homer then I fail to see the logic).
The various dates given in the ancient sources centre around the 1180s. Modern scholars agree with though they have managed to come up with a year which none of tha ancient writers used - just to show they are cleverer than them.2. When did these events transpire?
Modern scholarship/science has no tool which can finesse a date to a specific year, certainly not at a remove of 3,000 years.
Coincidentally, the catalogue of ships gives their number as 1,186.
David Rohl, mentioned by Seasmith and myself in previous posts, gives a date of 874 according to his New Chronology.
His website is here:
These sort of questions don't concern me, I view them as being more to do with Literature than History (the3. When were they recorded in written form
3a. If they were transmitted orally and then written down, what is the gap between the songs and the written version?
See 4. below.
Many. Peisistratos the Athenian tyrant, 6th century, collected and collated those he could get hold of when he was4. How many versions of Homer were there in the ancient world?
assembling his library.
Scholars have applied the same philological examination to the Homeric texts as they have done to the OT and NT but apart from a few words and phrases have not found anything to suggest the work of more than one hand. Commonsense should have told them that something that has held its reputation as a literary masterpiece for over 2,500 years was not written by committee.
a) Before the non-expert Schliemann discovered Troy, virtually all of the European experts dismissed the contents of the Ilaid as pure poetic fantasy and doubted whether there was ever a poet called Homer. Trevor Bryce sums up the situation nicely:5. What is the value of Homer for the following areas of study:
a. understanding pre-classical Mediterranean "heroic" societies, which were arranged far differently than classical
Greek and Roman empires
b. understanding the intent of the author himself
c. understanding spiritual themes
d. understanding physical cataclysm described by the actions of the gods.
The subsequent hundred or so years of scholarly endeavour has shown that Homer was right on the money. Parallels with Mycenaean warrior-society can be seen in the much earlier Mahabarata from India and the much later Beowulf of NW Europe for example. Native American and Japanese Samurai would be other examples."In other words, the Iliad is a story about a war that never took place, fought between peoples who never lived, who used a form of Greek that no one ever spoke and belonged to a society that was no more than a figment of the imagination of a poet who never existed". (The Trojans and their Neighbours. 2006, p180).
b) Homer was a philosopher so his intent would be to provide the means for learning (NB: this is different from
c) I wouldn't use the term 'spirituality' - too vague and New Agey. As I mentioned previously, Homer is, among other
things, writing about alchemy (as it is known in the West or yoga as it is known in the East), this is a practical
endeavour, i.e. it is something you the individual undertake (by choice). One of its aims is to become 'born again' in
the original pre-Christian sense of the term. Having someone say some words and splash some water on you doesn't cut it. The first step is to contact Athene (one eye for study and one eye for meditation As the Buddha says) then if you are good enough Hermes will contact you.
For a more accurate description read the Iliad from the point where Achilles is informed of the death of Patroclus and pay attention to the imagery used by the divine Homer (as he was known in Greece).
There is a close similarity between a philosopher and a warrior - both hold to, and live their lives by, a set of
values, even unto death.
d) I'll deal with this in a separate post.
Whoa there, Bald Eagle - Homer is writing about an army in the field (Iliad) and a fleet returning homeThere is a truly astonishing lack of idols. Hecatombs and offerings were done at the beach or in the open. In
contrast, later Greeks and Romans emphasized lavish temples/banks and huge sensual idols and carved images.
(Odyssey) so the lack of temples is understandable in those contexts. Back home in Greece they had temples and idols though sacrificies were conducted outside. (Elf n Safety - you don't want to be in a confined space with a nervous bull and a large open fire inside is also not a good idea).
This order was destroyed by catastrophe - it is a constant theme throughout the Iliad. One of the ways this is...But this order of local society is destroyed by conquering empires, such as the Babylonians, Greeks, Romans and also Papal Rome.
done is with the personal combats. Homer will give the home, source of its prosperity and lineage of, usually, the
loser. The point being, IMO, to show that this prosperity has been built up over generations but is about to be over
in the blink of an eye (both for the individual and the nation/society concerned). The old world is about to pass
away. Empires were one consequence of the new world - lands were depopulated and/or physically altered (for better or for worse) thus peoples moved and mixed and created a new dynamic.
I would change 'Papal Rome' to Christianity as Protestants have done more than their fair share of damage in Europe, the Americas, Africa and Asia.
I'm not a fan of Peter Mungo Jupp (I always think of Blazing Saddles whenever I see his name). Homer's knowledge ofPeter Mungo Jupp said recently, "His description of “the catalogue of ships” shows an in depth knowledge of the towns and navies of the Greek Mycenaean civilization. His grasp of human frailties matched Shakespeare’s."
geography extends well beyond Greece - consider the home locations of the Trojan allies and the various places named in the Odyssey. The catalogue of ships is just that; there is no great knowledge of anything naval or maritime.
Homer was a master psychologist. The psychological aspect of the Iliad begins with book 1 and the confrontation
between Agamemnon and Achilles. They represent two personality types - one, Agamemnon, is Everyman, the other is the Seeker. Both are kings, warriors, brave, intelligent etc but Agamemnon is a materialist, he wants to enjoy the perks while putting in the minumum effort. To Agamemnon the material possessions are the goal while to Achilles they are a consequence. At the end of the encounter Achilles throws to the ground Agamemnon's sceptre and says words to the effect that 'we have all got one of these'. What he means is that every person is a king/ruler of his or herself, or at least has the potential to be. It's a question of who is guiding the chariot: you or the horse? Intellect or passions (as the Greeks called them). Mind or body.