The World of Odysseus

The World of Odysseus

M. I. Finley

Language: English

Pages: 192

ISBN: B000J35D14

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

The World of Odysseus is a concise and penetrating account of the society that gave birth to the Iliad and the Odyssey--a book that provides a vivid picture of the Greek Dark Ages, its men and women, works and days, morals and values. Long celebrated as a pathbreaking achievement in the social history of the ancient world, M.I. Finley's brilliant study remains "as indispensable to the professional as it is accessible to the general reader"--a fundamental companion for students of Homer and Homeric Greece.
Preface by Mark van Doren













If it is to be placcd in time, as everything we know about heroic poetry says it must, the most likely centuries seem to be the tenth and ninth. By then the long years of wan­ dering and infiltration were over, the mixture of race and culture had been completed, the catastrophe that brought down My­ cenaean civilization and made itself felt all over the eastern Mediterranean had been forgotten. The history of the Greeks as such had begun. Essentially the picture of the background offered by the

invariably err on the side of exaggeration. One of the smallest contingents in the catalogue of ships was led by Odysseus, a mere twelve (Agamemnon had one hundred and provided sixty others for the inland Arcadians). He is announced as king of the Cephallenians, who inhabit three 46 Wealth and Labor 47 adjacent islands in the Ionian Sea, Cephallenia, Ithaca, and Zacynthus, together with two sites apparently on the nearby mainland. But it is with Ithaca specifically that he is always directly

stones, the pottery, and the metal objects unearthed by archaeologists. In­ tricate analysis of the remains and of place names has demon­ strated that people speaking the Greek language, but ignorant of the art of writing, first appeared on the scene about 2000 B.C. Where they came from originally no one knows. In Plato’s day, some fifteen hundred years later, they were to be found scat­ tered over a tremendous territory from Trebizond near the eastern end of tho Black Sea to the Mediterranean

none of the Danaans will rebuke me, for it will be straight. Antilochus, come here, fosterling of Zeus. According to proper procedure ( themis), stand before your horses and chariot, take in your hand the thin whip with which you drove before, and, with your hand on the horses, swear by ( Poseidon) the earth-mover and earth-shakcr that you did not deliberately interfere with my chariot by a trick.’ ” But Nestor’s son, “who had been wise” until his eagerness to win impelled him to 116 The World

the renowned earth-shaker answered her: ‘Oh no, for strong as he is, he has spoken insolendy if he will master me by force, against my will, I who am his equal in honor.’ ” 47 Poseidon gave in, of course, but in the colloquy the parallel between gods and heroes was per­ fectly drawn. Like any hero, Poseidon was concerned solely with honor and prowess. He bowed to the authority of Zeus, but only because the elder brother was prepotent. Earlier, when Hera first proposed that together they could

Download sample