Classics Midterm Notes.docx

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Lecture 1
Bronze Age Greece
Crete earliest centre of civilization later thought of as greek world
Greece invaded by greek-speaking Dorians from north
Dorian invasion responsible for collapse of Mycenean civ
Minoan
British archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans uncovered remains of great palace
Crete highly developed society large palaces sophisticated deisgn
Cretans expert potters/vase painters
Cretan vessels found in Aegean and Mediterranean
Minoan intricate design of great palace at Knossos brought to mind labyrinth of King
Minos mythical law giver of Crete
Greek Myth Minos (son of Zeus and Europa) compete with bros to rule Crete
Minos prayed to Poseidon, sent bull for him to sacrifice he failed
Poseidon caused Mino‟s wife Pasiphae to fall in love with bull created half bull half man
Minotaur
Labyrinth constructed by Daedalus to hide monster
Motif of bull prominent on frescoes on wall above entrance
vases in bull‟s head
Bull jumping bull charged jumpers, in succession, grab horns and somersault over head
landing on back
Cretan sophistication presence of writing on clay talets and other objects
Linear A script
Linear B
Mycenaean
centered upon royal palaces on Greek mainland
Heinrich Schliemann excavated Mycenae most powerful centre
Schliemann found Agamemnon‟s (leader of greek expedition Homer Illiad) grave
Treasury of Atreus and Tomb of Clytemnestra (shape of beehive called tholos) built around
1300
Early monumental architecture citadel walls at Mycenae
Great “dome” no interior buttress form is self-supporting
Mycenean culture more warrior based than Minoan
Destruction of Knossos Mycenaean civ most powerful and advanced lasted for 300
years til it collapsed at 1050
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Lecture 2: Homer: Iliad, Odyssey, Greek History
Homer and History
Influential poet, every Athenian schoolboy studied and knew his works by heart
A guild, the Homeridae claiming to be descendants of Homer devotes their lives to the
recitations of his poems (rhapsodes, did professional recitations of Homer)
Apart from his name, all aspects of Homer are controversial, the exact time of his written
epics are debatable
Heinrich Schliemann, prior to his Mycenae excavation excavated Hissarlik in northern
Turkey, believed to be the site of Troy
Recorded nine settlements, the seventh one destroyed in a great fire that seems to lend
support to the Trojan War and Homeric accounts
After the fall of Troy came the collapse of the mainland centres of Mycenaean civilization,
and the Bronze Age gave way to the Iron Age
Might mean that the Homeric poems were set in the Bronze Age culture
Golden cup of Nestor resembles an actual cup found in the graves at Mycenae, another
discovery, the boar‟s tusk helmet of Odysseus, found in Mycenaean tombs not in later
excavations
Weapons in Homer included a lot of iron, recording of customs that differ from the
Mycenaean times
Trial before a jury, depicted on Achilles shield, use of phalanx and hoplites (infantry soldiers)
did not come into play until the development of the city states suggesting a date as late as
700 BCE
Some say that Homer is drawing a parallel between the heroic past, humble present
Homeric poems are believed, mostly on linguistic grounds to have emanated from Ionia,
preserving the Mycenaean culture and later settling in the Asia minor
Archaic elements coexist with later elements, the Homer language is a fusion of Ionic
(predominant element, fusion of latter two), Aeolic and Arcadian (spoken in mainland
Greece during Mycenaean period)
“cloud gathering Zeus,” “ox-eyed Hera,” traditional epithets, oldest linguistic elements, their
presence is because of the formulaic composition of the poem
“winged words,” “rosy-fingered dawn,” examples of formulae
They are convenient units readily committed to memory to aid improvisation to a pre-literate
world where poet wholly dependent on memory
Traditional inheritance is constantly being added to, to meet contemporary needs, formulaic
technique in Homer is highly complex, Homer‟s language is specifically developed for poetic
recitations, never a spoken language, not from one genius
Scholarly opinion suggests that Homeric poems evolved from many centuries of
sophisticated techniques of formulaic diction, historians believed these epics have been
composed long after the culture they describe had passed away
The Iliad
Achilles, greater than any hero known to man was recruited for the Trojan expedition, he
was the son of Thetis the nymph an Peleus, king of Myrmidons, it is prophesized that Thetis
would bear a son greater than his father
Homeric heroes in Iliad exemplifies aristocratic virtues, dominantly honour, excellence and
greatness, to do better than the rest (better than his father)
Trojans equally responsive to heroic impulse, all about glory gain, honour, pride
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Aristocrats had to earn their distinguished social status through their fearless fighting on the
battlefield, since we can‟t avoid aging and death in a matter of forms, but as well join the
fight and gain honour or have it for others to gain
Risk a glorious death as opposed to forgo glory for the sake of holding onto insignificant life,
choice made wholeheartedly (charma: eagerness for battle)
Hector: despite foreboding of his own death he gallops onto the battlefield as if confident to
win
Achilles: supreme because of virtue, superior physical prowess but also choosing to be at
Troy, his mother had told him to choose: long, undistinguished life or eternal fame if he
stayed at Troy. Greatest glory at greatest price, heroic choice aware of ultimate cost.
The Anger of Achilles: the Tragic Pattern
Heroic choice was taken for granted, anything else was only secondary consideration
First words of the poem: the anger of Achilles that brings ruin in its train
His aspirations threatened by a series of events, including his intensifying rivalry with
Agamemnon who insults his honour
9th year of the siege of Troy, Apollo is angry because Agamemnon will not give up his war
spoils, the young daughter of priest worshipping Apollo and Greek camp is infested with a
plague
Council called by Achilles gets Agamemnon to relent but he vows to make up for his loss by
taking Achilles‟ slave girl Briseis, Achilles is then dishonoured by this arrogant behaviour
that upsets the god (hubris) and asks his mother to convince Zeus to grant Trojan success
so the Greeks will realize his worth, Zeus agrees
Trojans advance from the city to the camp upon the plain and the Greeks petition for
Achilles to return, Agamemnon admits errors and offers gifts to compensate going beyond
what was required by good form alone (swallowing his pride)
Achilles is obdurate, unmoved because his honour is felt so deeply, never forgive
To some Achilles may be arrogant and self-centred, acting as if he were a law unto himself
but his behaviour originates in something exceptionally pure and noble
No other Homeric hero has the aspiration for glory in so intense a form, he‟s seeking glory
and glory and honour alone, he‟s not fighting for revenge or defence of others
With purity of this motive, he has absolute sense of his own worth and honour, any
diminution of his honour diminishes the person, renders his choice of life null, void
This honourable truth is all he sees, blind to all other truths, eventually leading to the
destruction of many others including himself
When doctors are treating other Greek leaders, Achilles alone can‟t be treated until he finally
relents to let his comrade in arms Patroclus to fight in his place but only to save the ships
and not fight on to Troy thus diminishing Achilles‟ honour
It‟s the first sign of Achilles realizing his error, “a man can not be angry forever,” but his
sense of pride is still overriding
Both magnanimity and irony that his final wish is to take Troy with Patroclus
The death of Patroclus pushes Achilles over the edge, whom he loves more than his own
life, he then realizes his own error and folly
The gods have done much for him, there is no pleasure for achievement, he‟s ready for
death, Thetis reveals his fate to him and he vows to welcome death, seeking only glory and
death of Hector (who killed Patroclus)
His once pure motive of glory is tainted with revenge, he‟s resolute for death, losing all the
chivalry he had in earlier duels against Paris and Aeneas, Glaucus, Diomedes
He first captures 12 young Trojans to sacrifice, he‟s deaf to the pleas, his arrogant challenge
to the river god contradicts his respect for the gods
Darkening moral tone of the poem, images of corpses exposed to dogs, carrion birds
Hector, in final combat asks for restoring body for burial (terms agreed on in earlier duels)
but Achilles refuses. Even in dying breath, Hector begs for mercy but Achilles refuses in
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Document Summary

Crete earliest centre of civilization later thought of as greek world. Greece invaded by greek-speaking dorians from north. Dorian invasion responsible for collapse of mycenean civ. British archaeologist sir arthur evans uncovered remains of great palace. Crete highly developed society large palaces sophisticated deisgn. Cretan vessels found in aegean and mediterranean. Minoan intricate design of great palace at knossos brought to mind labyrinth of king. Greek myth minos (son of zeus and europa) compete with bros to rule crete. Minos prayed to poseidon, sent bull for him to sacrifice he failed. Poseidon caused mino s wife pasiphae to fall in love with bull created half bull half man. Labyrinth constructed by daedalus to hide monster. Motif of bull prominent on frescoes on wall above entrance. Bull jumping bull charged jumpers, in succession, grab horns and somersault over head vases in bull s head landing on back. Cretan sophistication presence of writing on clay talets and other objects.

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