CLA160: Lecture 1
Reading #3: Hesiod’s Works and Days
- Works & Days shows us the hardships of the Dark Age = pessimism.
- Theogony shows us the difficulties but introduces the Gods and shows hope.
- The Iliad lays out the ideals and the values. What is it to be a God/Man & their
- It is the first monumental illustration, the “Greek Bible” so to speak.
- The Iliad is used by philosophers & can even be used as arguments in court.
Illustrations of the Trojan War were everywhere.
- Later the Greeks adapted the Iliad to their present moment. Ex: The Trojan
women (shows the savagery of the war in Greece).
- Homer was the Classic for the Greeks & Romans just as the Greek & Roman
societies are classics for us.
Historical context of the Iliad…
- The story looks a lot like the Mycenaean Period.
- It was probably composed in the late 700s BCE.
- The Puzzle: It seems to have been written in a Period with no written poetry and
only the most basic use of Linear B.
- Some people argue that there might’ve been thousands of smaller poems that
were put together later when writing was reintroduced. The problem with that
theory is that the poem is beautifully put together and interwoven.
- In the 1930s, Poets Lord and Perry observed Serbo-Croatian bards singing for
hours and hours. It turns out they were producing lyrics on the spot. They were
small traditional stories with repetitions.
- The Perry-Lord theory of orality: The Iliad and the Odyssey were composed
orally by an illiterate bard drawing on traditional material handed down over generations. It explains some of the features of the Iliad: the formal features, the
focus, the length and the repetitions. There are set scenes that the poet can
repeat, sacrifice or battle scenes for example, a sort of repertoire. It can help the
bards’ memories, the continuity as well as the composition of the poem.
From a literary point of view…
- War between Greek kingdoms and kingdoms of Troy, 750-720 BCE.
- Specific objects seem to refer to the Mycena