The World Of Odysseus Essay

3005 words - 12 pages

The World of Odysseus was written by Sir Moses I. Finley, and it is an in depth analysis of the Iliad and the Odyssey. The period in history that helped to produce these two phenomenal works is veiled with uncertainty due to the fact that an actual written history doesn't exist. Homer put his history of the period together from the traditional custom of oral poetic story telling that originated from the late Dark Age and early Archaic Period. The first three chapters of Finley's text provide the reader with an understanding of the Greek world so the information presented in the fourth and fifth chapters is easier to understand.

The first chapter introduces the world of the Greeks, their exposure to writing, the importance of Homer, and the possibility that the two epics were written by two people. The text distinguishes that Homer actually was an actual historical figure, contrary to the belief of some scholars. Finley discusses where the Greeks came from and how they did not come in one massive, conquering movement. Actually, the Greeks and the other inhabitants did not realize what was happening at all when the migration was taking place. Language is another topic of discussion for Finley as he writes about the Greek language and its Indo-European family. The dialectical nature of the Greeks is also discussed because of the necessity for one to understand how the different polis around Greece were not unified. Yet, they established a universal alphabet that was initially adopted from the Phoenicians. Finley discusses the importance of myth through the progression of all great civilizations and how Homer and the Greeks were no different. For the Greek peoples myths were a ceremonial aspect in their culture, but their world could in no way have produced a unified, national mythology. The mythological tradition, although intriguing, makes the process of finding truth in the written accounts of Homer difficult for historians. Finley ends his first chapter by noting that he believes that Greek history commenced with the world of Odysseus and like all history had an extensive story behind it.

In the second chapter Finley explains why he believes the world of Odysseus was not the Mycenaean Age or the world in which Homer lived, but the intervening period-- the Dark Age. Finley also describes the adjustments the Iliad and Odyssey received from the archaic period of ancient Greece on. Finley's second chapter deals with Greek heroes and the bards that told of them throughout Greece's age of heroes. Bards were illiterate, so for them to pass on traditional stories about Greek heroic figures, they had to commit entire poems like the Iliad and the Odyssey to memory. This chapter begins with discussion of the story of the different ages of man was developed and how it began with four phases, but later, when Hesiod worked with the tale, it gained another phase. The Greeks applied metal names to the different ages in order to create a...

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