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Homeric World

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Classical Studies
Classical Studies 1000
Shauna Burke

1 The Homeric World BronzeAge Greece: • Crete: remains at Knossos, civilization Minoan 3600-1000 BC • Palaces: 1580-1120 • Tradition: Dorian invasion (thought to be responsible for collapse of Mycenaean civilization) • Mycenaean civilization: lasted 150 years after palace collapse, caused DarkAge Minoan: • Crete: highly developed mercantile society, expert potters/vase painters, trading (found vessels) • Minoan b/c of King Minos labyrinth • Minos: son of Zeus by Europa, to become leader prayed to Poseidon to send victim to sacrifice, bull, failed to sacrifice, Minos’wife fell in love w/ bull, gave birth to minotaur • Labyrinth: used to hide minotaur • bull-jumping: paintings of 3 women on bulls’backs, women were not excluded from society writing on clay tablets: linear A(not Greek), linear B (early Greek) • Mycenaean: • named after Mycenae • Iliad:Agamemnon- leader of Greek expedition, largest contingent of ships • monumental architecture: Treasury ofAtreus, Tomb of Clytemnestra, 1300 • tomb- shaped like beehive, filled w/ treasures • Lion Gate: royalty • more warrior based than Minoan, also sailors/traders • Linear B- highly organized administrative system • treasures: gold face mask, rython (silver vessel), • engraving/embossing- indicate commercial relations • collapse: 1050 Homer & History: • influence on society (present & future) ex. Iliad, Odyssey • guild Homeridae: recitation of poems, rhapsodes time periods in poems: Trojan War, fall of Troy • • excavations support Homer’s Trojan War poem • BronzeAge - > IronAge • golden cup of Nestor- found in graves bronze= main metal, some iron weapons • • record practices/customs that differ from time period ex. burying dead vs cremation • emanated from Ionia- preserve memory of mother culture transmitted by those who colonized Asia Minor after collapse • language- various dialects (Ionic,Aeolic,Arcadian) • formulae: short phrases/ longer passages; repeated within poem • purposely developed for poetic recitation, never spoken language Iliad: aristocratic values proved on battlefield • • charma- eagerness for battle, joy in the fight • 9th year of siege of Troy • quarrel w/Agamemnon - >Anger of Achilles: the tragic pattern • Apollo= angry b/c Agamemnon will not give back daughter of one of priests • Agamemnon agrees to give girl back, deprives Achilles of slave girl, Briseis • Achilles, angry, withdraws from fighting, thinks Agamemnon abuses power, hubris- arrogant behaviour that offends gods • Achilles asks mother to persuade Zeus to grant Trojan success, Zeus agrees • Greeks faced w/ threat,Agamemnon admits error, offers gifts,Achilles- insult to honor, remains angry • Achilles- not fighting for revenge/defense of loved ones, diminution of honour diminishes whole man, renders choice of life null/void • Achilles= admits a man cannot be angry forever, allows Patroclus to fight in his place • death of Patroclus:Achilles- recognizes danger of anger, ready for death • resolves to seek glory and death of Hector- unmerciful/cruel • drags Hector’s body around Patroclus funeral mound, killsAndromache’s family • Achilles’behaviour has become offensive to gods, out stop to it • Priam- restores Achilles to humanity, looks beyond own grief/anger, grief is of little use in face of the inevitability of human suffering • Achilles urges Priam to share a meal- symbolizes practical acceptance of continuing life, even passion of grief must yield to necessity - > Unity of design • does not obscure theme by telling tale of Troy from beginning, only particulars • beginning: quarrel, middle: consequences, end: resolution of anger interwoven whole Trojan story in matter of days • • pattern of behaviour, causes/effects represents probable sequence • imposed form/order on the undifferentiated matter and random chaos of life, enabling us to see through particular of universe • communicates moral truth about human world The Odyssey: • moral outline: ultimate triumph of right over wrong in poetic justice that is to be meted out in reversal of fortune at poem’s climax Odysseus: man of many ways, contrivance, many devices, suffering, enduring, versatility, • virtuosity, survives by reliance upon wits/virtue of intelligence • starts at end of journey- after being prisoner of Calypso on island, Ogygia for seven years • nine years after Trojan war, sons of aristocracy competing for Penelope (Odysseus’wife) • Telemachus attempts to get rid of suitors, travel to Pylos & Sparta to seek news of father • Penelope wants to remain loyal, but knows of planned ambush on Odysseus’return + Telemachus • Odysseus released by Hermes, builds a raft, almost drowns (Poseidon sets storm b/c he killed his son Polyphemus), shipwrecks on island Phaeacians • island= romantic setting, tells people of his past (Troy), declares he’s famous • companions kill oxen of Hyperion the sun god • Phaeacians honour him w/ gifts + magical ship for Ithaca • wakes up on shore, doesn’t recognize home • Athena appears, lies about identity, says he’s on run from homicide • Athena- feels natural affinity for Odysseus (sociable, civilized, quick understanding, self- possessed, controlled, prudent) • Odysseus, disguised as beggar, travels to Ithaca, only reveals identity for help • encounters Eurnaeus, believes Cretan tale, but not oath that Odysseus is to return encounter
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