Mythical background to Greek history
Proximity to what we know now as Italy, leads to interactions. Which
eventually influences the roman history.
The land and the People
Rugged land. Most lived in isolation of mountain valleys. Accounts the
difference between Athens and Sparta (for example)
Also people of the sea. This accounts for the dominance and
prominence of the Greek navy. Rule by the sea
Eratosthenes created the map of Greece and the land around. 194. BC
Greek history begins near the end of the last ice age , some time
around 10000 BC
Neo-lithium < 3000 BC. Lived a "new Stone Age" living in small groups
Around 3000 BC something happened that changed the Greek world
At the same time much more advanced civilizations existed. These
cultures had an advantage over the Greeks. It was how to combine
copper and tin to produce bronze. Produce sturdy weapons and such.
By proximity of trade routes the Greeks discovered the creation of
Minoans 3000 to 1800-1100 BC
Bronze Age Minoans flourished. No literature, language is
Artistic, creative, mercantile people. Palace had no fortifications lived in
peace on the island and the strength of navy. Dominant supreme
Arthur Evans: King Minos
Believed he excavated king Minos' palace.
King Minos was the legendary leader of Crete
His father was Zeus. According to myth, Zeus abducted, raped Europa.
According to the Greeks Zeus did this a lot.
Alexander the greats mother made the claim that Zeus has visited her
and impregnated her. He claimed divinity because of this. His divinity
was accepted because of the idea that this was something that Zeus
normally did. Birth of another divine child, Jesus.
Alexander the Great established the sovereignty of our culture today.
Zeus to Crete with Europa.
o Acknowledged the technology from the east. Symbolically
represents learning from the east.
Greek alphabet is adapted from the east as well.
Minos, Pasiphae, and Poseidon
Child born is Minos and wants to be king of Crete. And asks Poseidon to
help him become king and Poseidon agrees and demands the sacrifice
of his most prized bull. Attempts to cheat the god and give him a lesser
bull. Watches his wife fall in love with the bull.
His wife consults a man named Daedalus, who builds a cow for her so
she can preform beastiality with the bull
Thus, the birth of the Minotaur, grows up and develops a taste for
human flesh and lives in a maze beneath the palace.
The myth of the Minotaur where stories created by slaves that were
taken from the mainland to Crete. The palace seems like a maze.
Mainland overthrew the island and took power. The myth of Theseus
who goes to Crete and kills the Minotaur.
Mycenaeans: invasion 2000-1600 BC
Many masses of people migrate to the mainland of Greece.
They are the mythical people of the Trojan war.
Begins with Zeus turning into a swan, and seduces Leda. Helen is
important to the Trojan war. Greeks where terrified of the power of the
sexual power of woman.
The leader of the Greek war. On the way to the war he sacrificed his
daughter, Clytemnestra was angry about this and she waited for him
after the ten years, and killed him.
The tension between the Minoan and Mycenaeans.
Archaic Period 776-490 BC Date of the first Olympiad. 490 the date of the Persian invasion. Lecture 2
The Bronze Age
Bronze Age Greece
o Minoans and Mycenaeans
The greeks did not invent this.
o important because the Greeks insult the romans for taking things
First evidence in Crete, palace was ahead of it's time, art etc.
Mainland 1600-1000 BC, intrusion of new people who bring new culture
to the Greek one (Mycenaean one)
Dark Age 1000-800 BC
o destruction, canabalism, etc.
One theory that contributes to the destruction of Crete, is the volcanic
eruption on the island of Thera, whole island basically exploded, mass
tidal waves, ash blocking out the sun
o but there is no one single cause for the destruction of a culture
Some people suggested that that volcanic eruption and the decline of
Crete culture sparked the idea of Atlantis
In the myths of the greeks we see the decline of the Minoan culture
(death of the minotaur)
To suppress female supremacy
o They inscribed on the clay tablets symbols (Linear A)
has yet to be deciphered
o This was replaced by Linear B (by mycenaeans)
was deciphered (shows the supremacy of this culture)
The important thing that this does tell us that Mycenaean culture took
over the Minoan one
Mycenaeans Series of mainland palaces
Cyclopean Walls: Tiryns
o Built on fortified hill sides; military built
Architecture was not meant to delight; it was built by warriors
o real military purpose
o menacing type of architecture
Evidence of great wealth
Great gold work; hoarding of treasures
o swords, daggers, weaponry
Different kind of artistic sensibility
Tomb of Clytemnestra
o Different kinds of burials
o Massive tombs
o Wealth was more important; strict hierarchy
Wanax < name given to the Mycenaean King
o Ancient warrior king
Some will suggest the King had some sort of proximity to the divine
Centrally as a king he was a warlord
The Wanax rules and has the right to do so because he is a warlord
With a revolution in battle (shared experience) leads to greek
Political participation, often follows participation in battle
Figure eight shields and chariot warfare
Best literally evidence of Mycenaean war comes from Homer
o his accounts are often different than the images from the
Mycenaean time period
Hittites, Ahhiyawa, Archaea
Reference to the Mycenaeans
o Letter from Hittites to Ahhiyawa (might be a corruption of
The Hittites were very advanced military people, who respected the
o Highly mobile chariot warfare
Hittite reference to Troy
1200, period of collapse
Entire Mediterranean entered a period of collapse
Resources are consumed in a less effective way
o populations collapse in city centers
Hittites also collapse
o Probably due to a number of problems
Egyptians nearly collapse as well
o refer to mysterious "sea people"
Huge amounts of people where on the move, trying to reestablish
In a 1000 the world leaves the Bronze Age and enters the Dark Age
o the world becomes illiterate
o Great cities are abandoned
o Period of migration
o Period of massive cultural decline on every single part
Except for the only advances made in weapons in
technology Lecture 3
1. Establish the cultural and mythical context of later periods of Greek
2. Identify the role of the Iliad in shaping the Greek character
3. use mythological 'history' to bridge the Greek and Roman world
matters very little if the incidents in the Iliad actually occurred
o they were important to the Greek fundamentally
The linking story in the Iliad to the Romans is the Trojan war
He did not invent or create the stories within the Iliad
o The stories where already 400 years old after he wrote them
Greeks gained the ability to write and the first thing that happened was
that these stories were written
Who was he?
Where did he live?
Method of recording these poems
What are they about?
o they are about how males in that particular society should behave
AD 1100, Byzantium
Fragments of papyri
Homers story dates to the 1200 destruction of a city (Troy)
Wedding of Peleus and Thetis
End of the Bronze Age
o The war emerged from a wedding
o Thetis (divine goddess)
o All the gods and goddess were invited except for Eris
She was the goddess of strife
The greeks believe that strife was a woman o She showed up to the wedding uninvited
o Brings a golden apple and throws it into the wedding party
one word on it "the most beautiful"
o Three hands grab for the apple, belong to Athena, Aphrodite,
o Appeal to Zeus, but he doesn't want anything to do with this
o He gives the decision making to a mortal man Paris (exiled prince
He cannot decide which is the most beautiful
Hera promises to make him political master of all of Asia
Athena promises to give him strategic power in war
Aphrodite says she will give him the love of the most
beautiful woman in the world
o Paris is a young man and chooses option three
Helen, child of Zeus and Leda
o she is promised to Paris
o Problem she is married, to the king of Sparta
Paris travels to Sparta and while he is the guest
o he abducts and runs away with Helen
o obligation of guest hospitality
was essential for holding together loosely held city states
o Offended menaliuses pride
his honor had been wounded
o this demanded retaliation Lecture 4
Hellen launched 1000 ships
Winds are not favourable. Agamemnon prays to sea, is to told to
sacrifice Iphiginia, his daughter
o Winds pick up as he kills his daughter
o Has to choose the success of mission over death of daughter,
Greeks approve this
Story that portrays tough decisions of leaderships
Agamemnon gather Odysseus though O is reluctant
o tries to act mad to avoid campaign
Acts crazy by sewing his own farm with salt
Iliad begins with conflict between achilles and Agamemnon
o Although Agamemnon is the leader of coalition, the Greeks retain