Classical Studies 1000 Lecture Notes - Lecture 7: Narrative Poetry, Grave Goods, Lion Gate

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Classics – Classes 7 to 9 16:24
Heinrich Schliemann:
Heinrich Schliemann (1822-1890); not a professional archaeologist, no formal training,
just had a love of the Homeric epics as a child
When he lived, the general view was the Homeric was completely mythical/fantasy –
Schliemann, however, really believed that these poems and people were in some sense
Became a very wealthy businessman and when he retired he used his fortune to explore
his archaeological passion – all he wanted to do was find the places mentioned in the
Homeric poems
Wanted to find Mycenae and Troy – remarkably, he found them
Would occasionally buy antiquities off the black market and pass them off as being found
on one of his sites
The relationship of myth to reality is tricky – but there is almost always a connection
There is a connection between the world of the Iliad to the world of Bronze Age Greece
A major center of power during the Later Helladic period
Known from Homer as the home of Agamemnon, leader of the Achaean forces at Troy
Excavations of tombs by Schliemann brought to light many extraordinary finds
Not 100% certain that this was a center of rule or that the Mycenaeans were at all
unified – most of ancient Greece lacked political unity
Definitely a family of wealth and power, proved by the extravagant finds at the site –
possibly royal because of the “Lion Gate” (lion represented loyalty)
Acropolis of Mycenae – fortified, proving that they were in an era of defending
It was bad luck to bury someone in the city – had communal burial grounds outside of
everyday areas
Most famous grave goods from Mycenae are the gold funeral masks – most famous one
(slide 68) was found by Schliemann and he thought he had found the mask of the great
king Agamemnon (debate as to whether or not he had a fake made [so detailed
compared to others] because he wasn’t above the black market)
‘Nestor’s Cup’ (slide 72) –CEG 454 (ca 725-720 BC); writing on this cup – writing talks
about Nestor’s cup (first bit is illegible): “[???] Nestor’s well made cup; whoever drinks
of this cup will immediately be seized by desire from fair-garlanded Aphrodite”
Some believe that the illegible part says “To hell with” and that this is a playful
Cup was found in a graveyard and in an area where only women were buried – it
has been argued that this cup belonged to a prostitute (oldest profession in
Greece) because often wine was had before having sex
Playful joke OR was this cup a love charm?
Lots of bulls found in Mycenae
Also, Linear B was found
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