[quote author=Bert de Haan link=board=6;threadid=561;start=0#5052 date=1062029375]<br />I am wondering if the Iliad is historically acurate or if there was a lot of "poetic license used.<br />[/quote]<br />Are the Homeric poems true ? The answer is the same as for Beowulf
: such poems are not supposed to be true. How could it be ? However, I often noticed that people want Homer to be true. Even scholars begin sometimes by saying that Homer has no historical value but later they do as if it was the case. I knew pupils who were sad to learn that Homer didn’t compose an historical work.<br /><br />Now, are there things in Homer that we recognize as real ?<br /><br />- Unlike Snow White’s castel, the poems allow to localize the theatre of the Trojan war, south of the Dardannelles. Excavations have revealed a site inhabitated 2900-ca 950 BC, with remains of seven different settlements («towns»). The site was abandoned for 250 years, then inhabitated again 700 BC – 500 AD. We can be sure that this last town was called Ilion, which was the name of Troy’s citadel.<br /><br />- Some scattered material details refer to the Mycenian Age (ca 1500-1200 BC): bronze armament, war chariot, the famous helmet covered with boar tusks, of which an example was found in excavations in Greece.<br /><br />- The word [face=SPIonic]a)/nac[/face]
« Lord » was also used by the Mycenians (wa-na-ka).<br /><br />- Mycenae, Agamemnon’s city, and Pylos, Nestor’s one, are mentioned by Homer although these Mycenian sites had disappeared in Classical times.<br /><br />However, the simplified social organization, the lack of writing, allusions to iron etc remind to Dark Ages (ca 1100-800).<br /><br />Now, there are sometimes confusions in Homer showing that the Mycenian tradition had already faded away among the poets:<br />- the ending [face=SPIonic]–fi[/face]
(in Mycenian Greek an instrumental plural), is used in Homeric Greek to denote genitive or dative, singular or plural.<br />- the fighting methods: the use of the war chariot is juxtaposed in Iliad to the use of foot soldiers in close order, but effective fights are between single warriors (or small groups fighting for a corpse). One cannot figure out how it could have worked.<br /><br />But Iliad and Odyssey are still marvelous poems even if we don't know the events on which they are based, if any.<br /><br />
This %@*&^* Agamemnon who supposedly is on an honourable mision but kidnaps the daughter of a priest doing it.
<br /><br />Iliad and Odyssey frequently show that all these kings are plunderers. Alexandros kidnaps Helen as he is returning from a plundering expedition on the coast of Lebanon. While besieging Troy, the Greek plunder the surrounding cities, killing men and enslaving women. C'était la vie. See the words of Briséis, Achilles' captive, who laments after Patroclus' death (Iliad, XIX, 287ss, translated by Samuel Butler):<br /><br /> “Patroclus, dearest to my hapless heart, alive I left thee when I went from the hut, and now I find thee dead, thou leader of hosts,  as I return thereto: thus for me doth evil ever follow hard on evil. My husband, unto whom my father and queenly mother gave me, I beheld mangled with the sharp bronze before our city, and my three brethren whom mine own mother bare, brethren beloved, all these met their day of doom.  But thou, when swift Achilles slew my husband, and laid waste the city of godlike Mynes, wouldst not even suffer me to weep, but saidest that thou wouldst make me the wedded wife of Achilles, and that he would bear me in his ships to Phthia, and make me a marriage-feast among the Myrmidons.  Wherefore I wail for thee in thy death and know no ceasing, for thou wast ever kind.”<br /><br />Poor, poor, poor Briséis : "Achilles killed your husband, but, don't worry : he will surely marry you
!"<br /><br />In the Odyssey (IX, 39s), Ulysses tells the beginning of his... odyssey (translated by Samuel Butler):<br /><br /> "When I had set sail thence the wind took me first to Ismaros, which is the city of the Kikones. There I sacked the town and put the people to the sword. We took their wives and also much booty, which we divided equitably amongst us, so that none might have reason to complain."<br /><br />How ingenuous !