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Homer and the Mycenaeans

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The Excavations at Mycenae

The Trojan War

The Mycenaeans

The Mycenaean Image Gallery

Ancient Greece

The Iliad

Both gods knotted the rope of strife and leveling war, strangling both sides at once by stretching the mighty cable, never broken, never slipped, that snapped the knees of thousands. -- The Iliad


Achilles and Penthesileia in a much later pottery depiction of the Trojan War

More Information
on the relationship between the Mycenaean civilization and the Trojan War

 In Search of the Trojan War
by Michael Wood

cover

The 400 years in Greek history after the fall of the Mycenaeans is often called the "Dark Ages." It was indeed an illiterate time which was backward when compared with the great bronze age civilizations, the Mycenaeans and Minoans.

However, this was the time of Homer and the evolution of the great epic poems, The Iliad and The Odyssey. It was also the formative time of the later classical Greek civilization. The later Greeks believed that the poems were written by one man, Homer. Historians today are divided on whether there was one or many authors, but it is clear that the poem, through its many tellings, was modified over the years.

The Iliad and Odyssey came out of centuries of oral poetry, in which bards composed and recited complex and long passages. They and their audiences believed that they were reciting history, tales which actually happened. None of it was written down, for there was no written language. This meant that there was not as much flexibility for Homer as there was for later epic poets such as Vergil, who composed the great Roman epic, the Aeneid.

Because the poetry was orally transmitted, the subject matter was limited - Greece's heroic past, and the language was stylized. When writing eventually came back to Greece, the poems were written down for the first time. Most of the oral poetry never made it into written language, but these two poems were special to the Greeks.

There were many heroic themes of the oral epics, but the most popular was the story of the Trojan War, the Greek victory, and the return home of the heroes.

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