CS 1000 – Week 4
Lecture 1 30 September 2013
Homer’s Iliad (Continued)
• ‘Wrath’is the main theme.
• Achilles withdraws from the war and stays in his tent for most of the book
because he is upset thatAgamemnon took Briseis, his war prize. It is important
to remember that this society runs in a different way from our own.
• Along with the oral nature of early Greek society, there is an interesting
externalization of values.
o This is called a shame culture. It works with the assumption that we are
part of a guilt culture with a difference in how honors and values are
sustained in a society.
o Guilt culture: these things are internalized (ex. If you think you are a good
person, that it is enough and you believe you really are).
o Shame culture: these things are externalized and what everyone else thinks
of you is important (ex. If everyone says you are a good person, you are
good and if everyone says you are bad then you are bad).
• In early Greek culture, there is a movement away from shame (that is seen in
Homer) towards a guilt culture (which is what is seen more in Plato).
• Most societies today have elements of both of these types of cultures.
• Probable that in the Homeric world, the importance of these externalized values is
far greater Therefore, whenAchilles’girl is taken from him, his honor is taken
away because this girl is a measure of his worth and honor.
o What people think of you is implicit in these war gifts so when
Agamemnon takes them away,Agamemnon harms his honor.
o Because of this, Achilles really sees no reason to fight.
• Kleos (‘glory’) is the central idea in Homer’s Iliad all of the warriors know that
they will die and they must embrace their mortality so, since they will die, the
only thing that is important to make their lives meaningful is by gaining extreme
glory and fame. (This fame will make each hero immortal).
o Therefore, when Agamemnon takes awayAchilles’girl (i.e. his honor), he
is taking away his possibility to be immortal through his kleos and glory.
• The pursuit to make one’s life meaningful and remembered is a central theme not
just in Homer’s Iliad but in much of Greek literature and society.
o Death in the Greek world is a combination of issues of memory. Grave
markers are placed so that the deceased is always remembered.
o In mythology, the dead man goes to the underworld and drinks from the
‘spring of forgetfulness’ shows the fear the Greeks have of the loss of
o They want to hold on to the memory of the dead so that the deceased
never really dies. 2
• Homer’s Iliad takes the impulse that people have to kill one another and tries to
give this some meaning about what it means to be human.
o Achilles starts out as a killing machine and by the end he embraces and
accepts his own imminent death.
• This poem has the same characteristics of epic as the Iliad but it is also very
different in themes and character.
o The ancients saw that these were both by ‘Homer’but really it is the
product of the same oral tradition.
• The ancients believed this was the lesser of the two poems .
• The first word also announces the theme: Andra (‘man’).
• Plot: Odysseus is a character in the Iliad and fought at Troy, this poem picks up
his story after he has tried to go home after the Tojan war has been. Odysseus and
almost all of other homecomings of the Greeks are problematic. (ex.Agamemnon
goes straight home and is killed by his wife).
o Odysseus takes 10 years to get home after a storm blows him off course
and outside ordinary human reality.
o During this time, his house and family are under severe threat because the
king (Odysseus) is absent so there is a group of young men (called
‘suitors’) trying to win the hand of Penelope (Odysseus’wife).
o The suitors are eating all of his food and consuming his household.
o He has a young son who is coming of age (called Telemachos).
o When the poem starts, Odysseus is stuck on an island with an immortal
goddess who wants to stay with him but he laments his lost home and
wife. (she wants to make him immortal but he doesn’t want this, a theme
which is very different from the Iliad).
Odysseus is not one of the people in Greek myth who tries to cheat
death, (there are many who try but they all come to a bad end).
Odysseus knows who and what he is and he knows that he is a
human so he must die.
He can be immortal but he must stay on an island alone with this
woman. He knows that humans need to exist together in a
• WhenAristotle says “Man is a political animal”, he means
that the natural setting of the human animal is the ‘polis’ or
‘city-state’which is the basic Greek type of community in
theArchaic in Classical community. This means that the
natural way for a human to live is with others and that
humans make sense in relation to others and not by
Odysseus is a king and patriarch and presides over a community
and he only makes sense when he takes on this role in Ithaca (his
This poem is interested not in exploring humans in conflict (like
the Iliad) but in human (and non-human) communities.
o Odysseus makes many adventures outside of the human world (ex. Lotus
eaters, Polyphemus the Cyclops, the Sirens)
o All of the types of strange people that are presented are ways to show us
what we are not.
• The poem itself uses many types of folktales when it talks about Odysseus’
wanderings (many of which are influenced from the Near Eastern tradition).
The Early Epic Tradition
• The Homeric poems are the greatest but not the only examples in the tradition of
such poem. Only a small portion survives.
• Epic Cycle: there were a whole cycle concerning the Trojan War and the return of
• Homeric Hymns: these are an interesting series of poems and each celebrates a
particular deity by telling stories about them.
• Hesiod: he was thought to have been a counterpart to Homer; his poems are often
described as didactic (i.e. teaching).
o We have two substantial poems called Theogony and Works and Days and
fragments of others (ex. Catalogue of Women).
o Theogony: tells the story of the generations of the gods from the
beginning and the establishment of Zeus as the supreme god.
o Works and Days: about farming and how to maintain your farm; in the
context of telling us how to care for a farm, he gives us the story of
Pandora who opens her jar and all of the evils of humans comes out.
o Catalogue of Women: this poem is mostly lost; it is a list of mortal women
in myth who had children by gods (ex. Zeus fathered 118 heroes with
• All of these give us more information on the oral tradition and the beginnings of
• Slides: vase painters were inspired by these poems.
o Vase 1: Odysseus passing the Sirens who sing until men die. Odysseus
stuffed his men’s’ears with beeswax while he tied himself to the mast of
the ship so that he can hear the song.
In the Odyssey the Sirens are described as alluring young women
but here they look like chickens with the head of a woman.
This shows an interaction with these poems in art.
o Vase 2: Odysseus is trapped in the cave of the Cyclops Polyphemus who
has pushed a huge boulder in the front of the cave door; Odysseus and his 4
men put out the eye of Polyphemus and then attach themselves to the
bottom of sheep and go out with them when Polyphemus lets his sheep out
o Vase 3: Odysseus and his men come upon Circe (a witch) who gives them
a drink and his men turn into pigs. Odysseus comes to rescue them by the
instructions of a god and eventually rescues them.
o Slide 4 – Roman wall painting: showing the Trojan horse on the right
being brought in.
From the DarkAges to theArchaic Period
• Homer’s poems are said to have been written around the end of the 7 century
• The fall of Mycenaean civilization in 1200 BCE as things begin to falter.
(remember that when this happened to the Minoans, the Mycenaeans stepped in
and took over).
• The Mycenaean palaces are attacked and in some cases destroyed and many were
abandoned. there is no evidence of rebuilding or resettlement which suggests
that this organized world was faltering in a large way and there is a breakdown of
• By 1100 BCE, the palace communities like Mycenae were gone.
• Around the same time, the great Near Eastern empires were having problems. (ex.
Hittites and Egyptians)
• 1250-1200 BCE: it is around this time that Troy falls.
• It is unclear why this occurred.
• It is easier to describe what happened than account for it.
• Various theories:
o (1) Marauding ‘sea peoples’(as they are called in Egyptian texts).
o (2) Dorian ‘invasion’: around this time, there was another significant
influx of Greek speakers who entered from the north and settled along the
western coast. They have a distinct dialect called ‘Doric’and when they
came into Greece they may have destabilized the Mycenaeans.
But at this time, things were already unraveling.
o (3) A“massive ‘systems collapse’” which suggests that there was a large
bureaucracy and they grew but could not maintain their system so there
was a great loss of power from the great centers and more power with little
o (4) Natural disasters, plague (?) 5
Lecture 2 2 October 2013
‘Dark Age’(ca. 1150-700 BCE)
• This is a conventional way of talking of this period but a lot has been found
concerning this time and it really isn’t a ‘dark age’.
• This is a period of decline and slow reorganization and recovery. the Mycenaean
world had unraveled and there were profound changes which begin to take place.
• This period is called a ‘DarkAge’because there is less archaeological evidence,
(mostly graves) and there is no great monumental architecture.
o This name, however, is not entirely correct because some places were
better off than others and some recovered faster.
• During the Mycenaean period there seemed to be a centralized authority but in the
Dark Age this does not exist. now there are fragments of the Mycenaean world
continuing and there is more consistency than the archaeological record has
• This is not a return to primitivism but a decline, reorganization, social changes
and recovery and at the end of this period, there is a very prosperous society.
• By the end of this period, the Greek world is a different place.
How Can the Dark Age be Characterized?
• The elaborate architecture of the palaces and the bureaucracy of Mycenaean
Civilization were gone.
• Literacy disappears – writing disappears but Greek did not, the only difference is
that nothing was written down.
o Lack of Linear B shows the disappearance of an administrative class.
• But life does continue:
o (1) Agriculture
o (2) Livestock
o (3) Spinning and weaving (some argue that these things were made with
less skill and quality)
o (4) Pottery
o (5) Smelting and working iron (after 1050 BCE) 6
By 950 BCE weapons in graves were typically made of iron, not
bronze. This is a significant technological advance.
• Beginning of colonization ofAsia Minor (modern Turkey).
o The colonization suggests that times are good (i.e. the population is so
large that the areas for people to live need to be expanded; this shows
health and prosperity).
o Presence on the coast ofAsia Minor is important and later it allows
contact with Near Eastern people.
There is a Greek presence that opened the door to a later
• Consolidation of settlements such as Corinth andAthens.
o The Greek world will be dominated byAthens; it is the cultural and
intellectual center of the Greek world, though drama, philosophy,
o It is interesting thatAthens wasn’t important in the BronzeAge but
becomes important after the recovery of the ‘DarkAge.’(the area is
referenced in Linear B though).
• Large-scale bureaucracy replaced by local power structure in the ‘DarkAge’.
o Example: ‘Chieftains’, clan-groups, ‘warrior class’.
o This is important because the most striking feature of ancient Greece is
that none of the areas are unified and each city-state is totally independent
from others this is a reflection of the period of the ‘DarkAge’.
o There was a considerable variety.
• Given the size of areas in the ‘DarkAge’it is likely that there are leaders of