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Forum Lockedopinions of Strauss' Trojan War book

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Nick Canuck View Drop Down
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    Posted: 06-Apr-2009 at 02:42
Hi people,
I just finished reading a very interesting book, Barry Strauss' "The Trojan War: A New History." (Copyright 2007, Arrow Books, ISBN 9780099474333).
 
While I thoroughly enjoyed it, and learned a great deal from it, my instinct is to be a bit skeptical. Strauss' basic approach is that the Trojan War is an historical event, largely as described in Homer.
 
I think  that his frequent descriptions and appraisals of the individuals in the story - Paris, Achilles, Menelaus, Agamemnon, Odysseus, Diomedes, Hector, Helen, etc. were meant to be more metaphorical or illustrative of ideas of Bronze Age kingship than real, but perhaps I am mistaken; perhaps he believes they were mostly real people who took part in a siege of Troy. The way he writes can certainly leave one thinking that. But I can't help but believe no responsible scholar would claim such a thing.
 
Strauss illustrates ideas, events, and concepts by referring to contemporary events and records from surrounding Bronze Age civilizations -  and this I found fascinating and useful. But the constant referrals to individuals and their actions as an historical 'given' left me wondering if he was serious.
 
My personal take on Homer's story is that it is a dim and wildly embroidered memory of a (or several) late Bronze Age Mycenaean expedition(s) against Troy - but any further specifics are almost certainly impossible to fathom. Obviously archaeology has shown that some aspects of the Illiad are in fact true - boar tusks helmets are a particularly striking example - but still, the rest is unknowable. Therefore my concerned and skeptical approach to Strauss' book.
 
I'd be fascinated to know what others think of his book, and/or the topic of the historicity of Troy in general. I was rather surprised to find very few references to Troy on this forum.
 
Best,
Nick
 
 
"The most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed" - Steve Biko
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Sun Tzu Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06-Apr-2009 at 03:56
I haven't read the book, but I find Trojan History fascinating especially the Aeneid even it more of a legend of Rome's founders. I'm sure there were people like Achilles maybe not as heroic but made heroic to inspire others( Alexander always kept a copy of the Illiad under his pillow when he slept). I read the Illiad and found it very heroic and somewhat myhthical but it was enjoyable nonetheless.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Vorian Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06-Apr-2009 at 15:28
Iliad is a perfect source for the customs of Geometric Greece not mycenaic...this is as far as its historical value goes, as well as depicting a true event.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote lawagetas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27-May-2009 at 14:43
Originally posted by Vorian Vorian wrote:

Iliad is a perfect source for the customs of Geometric Greece not mycenaic...this is as far as its historical value goes, as well as depicting a true event.
 
The Iliad descriptions are fully compatible with the late Mycenaean civilization and with the Anataolian customs of the late bronze age.
Of course similar customs continued also during the Geometric period.
For a complete analys about the possible historical reality  behind the Trojan war mith:
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