Talk:Historicity of the Iliad

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"Historicity the Iliad" makes little sense on its own. 11:46, 27 December 2005 (UTC)

doh. it was a typo I spread via copy-paste. dab () 13:56, 27 December 2005 (UTC)


"The more we know about Bronze Age history, the clearer it becomes that it is not a yes-or-no question but one of educated assessment of how much historical knowledge is present in Homer. The story of the Iliad is not an account of the war, but a tale of the psychology, the wrath, vengeance and death of individual heroes that assumes common knowledge of the Trojan War to create a backdrop. No scholars assume that the individual events in the tale (many of which centrally involve divine intervention) are historical fact; on the other hand, no scholars claim that the scenery is entirely devoid of memories of Mycenaean times: it is rather a subjective question of whether the factual content is rather more or rather less than one would have expected."

Did a grad-school psych student write this? It makes little sense, and violates NPOV. 12:56, 22 October 2007 (UTC)


Maybe I missed the section whereby we are informed with information concerning the discovery of the first and I suppose,the only ancient written copy of the ORAL tale? We are told that the ORAL version supposedly was the only source for a couple of hundred years, yet no one can tell us whom or who first is credited with placing this "15,000 Line" missive onto parchment, etc.! It would be a very time consuming effort if the literate author(s) actually had to listen to the ORAL version, and write down the words! Someone, somewhere, and at sometime, had to have done it? So, if we know the answer, then why is it not mentioned in the article? Does anyone really know any clue to the first recorded written version of this EPIC TOME? In just what century do we place it? (talk) 15:38, 2 December 2010 (UTC)Ronald L. Hughes

Answering my own question; See; (talk) 15:54, 2 December 2010 (UTC)Ronald L. Hughes

The scholarly editing work of establishing a fixed, recognized text of the Homeric poems got under way in Alexandria in the third century BC, that's fairly well known among people who do classical philology for a living (a company I don't count myself within, but I know some about the field anyway...). That included seeking out manuscripts and people who were recognized as good tradition bearers in singing/reciting the text aloud, commenting on rare words, on details of the story and the mythology and so on. There did emerge a fairly tight stream of established text tradition, which would lead up to the medieval codices of Homer, much like the tradition of the Masoretic text of the Hebrew Bible where the earliest full copies are also from around 1000 AD, though the masoretic text has fewer variants than the Iliad and the Odyssey.
But there were written books already in the fifth and sixth centuries, and the Homeric poems must have been among the earliest long literary texts in Greece to see some consigning to papyrus or other written media. Did Homer himself know how to write? Did he dictate to a scribe at some point? Those issues have been debated for two hundred years. It's not even sure he had a definite idea of the "need" to stamp a single, authoritative version of his poems as "The Iliad and The Odyssey" - but most scholars these days are in favour of a single literary genius, or 'bard', as the man who transformed a pre-existing tradition of epic poetry - leading way back into the dark ages - into essentially what's been known since. (talk) 13:45, 11 December 2013 (UTC)


What the heck does "planification" mean? It's not in the dictionary. Something like "steam rollering"?

—The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 14:54, 16 February 2007 (UTC).

Aeneas survives?[edit]

The Homeric tradition that every inhabitant was killed or enslaved finds no confirmation in the archeological record.

Is this really the tradition? I thought in the original epic cycle Aeneas survives the war and rebuilds in Anatolia. I also seem to remember Antenor surviving. john k 02:17, 10 June 2006 (UTC)

In Book 20 of the Iliad Poseidon saves Aeneas from death at the hands of Achilles for the specific reason that Aeneas is fated to live beyond the Trojan War and his descendants will rule over Troy. --Akhilleus (talk) 05:54, 10 June 2006 (UTC)

Exactly. So we should probably tone down the supposed "Homeric tradition" that every inhabitant was killed or enslaved. john k 10:31, 10 June 2006 (UTC)

I deleted the paragraph that contained that statement, since it didn't seem like there was anything worth saving in it. --Akhilleus (talk) 22:13, 10 June 2006 (UTC)


I see that Athens appears on the map of Homeric Bronze Age Greece, but I thought that Athens was no where mentioned by Homer. --Michael C. Price talk 22:21, 4 July 2006 (UTC)

Athens is mentioned in Book 2 of the Iliad, in the Catalogue of Ships. --Akhilleus (talk) 23:33, 4 July 2006 (UTC)
And Menestheus, the leader of the Athenians, is mentioned several times. john k 00:04, 5 July 2006 (UTC)
OK, thanks, my mistake. --Michael C. Price talk 03:04, 5 July 2006 (UTC)


I am not aware that the Epic of Gilgamesh is "striking similar" to the Iliad. I have put a citation needed tag on this statement. --Michael C. Price talk 13:06, 12 July 2006 (UTC)

ask and ye shall receive. It might be good to actually describe some of the similarities between NE myth/Gilgamesh and the Iliad at some point, but the proper article for that is probably Iliad, not Historicity of the Iliad. --Akhilleus (talk) 17:22, 12 July 2006 (UTC)
Thanks! I'd be interested to hear more, and I'm sure others would as well. May I suggest Troy#The_Iliad_as_essentially_legendary? --Michael C. Price talk 17:48, 12 July 2006 (UTC)
I too would like to hear even a few attributes of the EoG that are similar to the Iliad. Are these quite general similarities (men are heroes? whereas in earlier depictions on amphoras, women could sometimes have both regions. Is that the similarity? Some of the deeds of heroes in both stories were attributed to goddesses at an earlier date...see Glory of Hera, Philip Slater, - Oxford Press, I believe. --LeValley 03:42, 15 March 2010 (UTC)
The friendship and brothers-in-arms vibe of Achilles and Patroclus has been compared to the bond between Gilgamesh and Enkidu, but on the whole the Iliad doesn't show much similarity to EoG. Mesopothamian and Near Eastern mythology is considerably rawer and, well, more open towards the messy, grotesque and dislocating than Greek myths overall. Rather than seeing it as the Greeks being polished, thinking and precociously smooth vs the uncontrolled and brute Mesopotamians, it could be viewed as the Greek myths having dropped much of their primary functions as myths, their religious or oral everyday charter functions, by the time they actually show up as literary references, there having been a kind of ongoing demythologization that would have begun long before Homer. G. S. Kirk made that point in discussing Greek myths and their functions in The Nature of Greek Myths [1975) and it's a useful one: Greek myths were organized over time into a system, more literary than connected to religious practices and aims, and surreal, illogical or abhorrent elements were pushed out, cropped or relegated to a very limited number of monstrous creatures. To really know the Greek myths as myths in full flight, we'd have to go back to the Mycaenean age to see what those stories (and many that were lost several centuries BC) looked like back then. There's every indication that they would have looked fairly different, even though many of the heroes, villains, gods and basic settings were formally the same. (talk) 14:06, 11 December 2013 (UTC)

Our essays[edit]

The article needs a Notes section and referenced statements with some pithy quotes, to help get away from our essays on the subject and move towards reports on the published development of argument on this topic. --Wetman 08:26, 19 February 2007 (UTC)

What? not anyone? --Wetman (talk) 11:40, 10 December 2007 (UTC)

Anachronism of round shields?[edit]

Minor observation, which I realise borders on OR, but might be worth pursuing. Under the Artefactual evidence section, we have:

". . . there are parts of Homer's story that appear not to match a Bronze Age war . . . . Ajax's tower shield makes sense in the context of the shields depicted in Bronze Age artwork, which are very tall and either rectangular or shaped somewhat like a curved hourglass. However, most of the other shields are described as circular, which is an anachronism, as far as modern scholars can tell."

However, on the Phaistos Disc, which apparently predates the Trojan War by something like 3 centuries, one of the commonest symbols (No. 12) is invariably interpreted as a round shield. Either this interpretation is wrong, or the Disc is badly misdated (or fake), or round shields were extant in the Eastern Mediterranean area in the Bronze Age, somewhat before if not actually contemporary with the (presumed) date of the War.

Note that although the Disc was found on Crete in a Minoan palace (under apparently datable debris), it's considered possible that it may have originated elsewhere, such as Anatolia, due to the non-Minoan style of some of the symbols depicting human figures. Minoan art, I understand, itself usually depicts hourglass/figure-of-eight shields.

Further, the Shield article states:

"During the 14th-13th century BC, the Sards or Shardana, working as mercenaries for the Egyptian pharaoh Ramses II, utilized either large or small round shields against the Hittites,"

and their own article Sherden begins:

"The Sherden (also known as Serden or Shardana) sea pirates are one of several groups of "Sea Peoples" who appear in fragmentary historical records (Egyptian inscriptions) for the Mediterranean region in the second millennium B.C.; little is known about them. On reliefs they are shown carrying a round shield and a long thrusting Naue II type sword."

This places bronze-age round shields even closer to Home(r) (sorry, couldn't resist!), and suggests that the claimed anachronism of the Iliad's round shields is insecure. (talk) 07:52, 3 May 2009 (UTC)


Future historians will doubt the existance of New York because of Spidey's accounts. At least they will have got Gotham and Metropolis right...--Draco ignoramus sophomoricus (talk) 17:42, 29 May 2010 (UTC)

Sir, please explain the point of this statement. (talk) 16:41, 8 January 2015 (UTC)

Late Bronze Age Collapse[edit]

Why no links to the Bronze Age collapse of which the fall of Troy seems to have been the most northern example? John D. Croft (talk) 19:22, 29 June 2010 (UTC)

No reliable sourcces? Which fall of Troy anyway, the city identified as Troy 'fell' a number of times. Dougweller (talk) 20:20, 29 June 2010 (UTC)

minor edit?[edit]

"With Plato's Atlantis the less comparable case is the extent to which myth has been manipulated or created, to illustrate philosophical generalizations."

That "With … is" construction doesn't flow. Perhaps:

"Plato's Atlantis is a less comparable case but likewise shows the extent to which myth has been manipulated or created to illustrate philosophical generalizations."

Although I find the "less comparable" here (or the reference to Arthur above it) a bit too editorial. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:09, 21 February 2012 (UTC)

Britain and Rome[edit]

Odd that there is mention of Britain's mythical roots in Troy, but not Rome's. Geoffry's account is clearly derivative of Virgil's, and Virgil's should be given more weight. Rwflammang (talk) 19:24, 1 January 2013 (UTC)

Knossos plus Hissarlik ?[edit]

Does anybody know of any support for any parts of the following speculation (basically my own pet theory for a decade or two, but poorly researched and with only a little evidence and a bit more abstract logic to back it up), and is that support from sources sufficiently reputable and relevant to deserve inclusion in the current article? Basically the idea is that the story originally resulted from the Greek conquest or takeover of the glorious Minoan capital of Knossos on the island of Crete around 1400BC (a takeover for which there is plenty of evidence, and which would presumably have required at least one naval expedition). Knossos is its Greek name, so it was quite likely known as something like Troy to the Minoans. After the growing Dark Age from around 1200BC onwards, caused by the transition from the Bronze Age to the Iron Age (which would have resulted in much violence as people lost their bronze-related income and had to resort to things like piracy to survive), the Greeks still orally remembered their glorious victory over Troy centuries before but no longer knew where Troy was. As the economy recovered after about 900BC, some Greeks found the abandoned site at Hissarlik, and decided to turn it into a profitable tourist trap by claiming it was Troy. As it happens, its actual name was probably Wilusa (according to the Hittite records), and, like many cities of the Eastern Mediterranean at the time, it had been sacked during the Dark Age, presumably by some piratical people similar to the Sea Peoples recorded by the Egyptians at the time, with its inhabitants taking refuge further inland at the site now known as Bunarbashi. As a result the Greeks got some useful info from the Bunarbashans, and 'Troy' got a second name, Wilios (from Wilusa), which later become Ilios, and later still Roman Ilium. And poems about the Trojan war began to reflect the geographical details around Hissarlik, and continued to change until about 300BC (even after the poems got written down as the Iliad around 750BC, allegedly on the orders of the Athenian dictator Peisistratos), to reflect the fact that the site was silting up and thus getting further from the coast. They also included other scraps of info from Bunarbashans and other locals. That's why there are now bits of the poem that agree with the geography of Hissarlik and the Hittite diplomatic records, while other bits are similar to details found in the Greek Linear B records on Crete, why the place was known as both Troy and Ilios, and why there is seemingly no famous Greek mythology about the glorious conquest of Knossos. This would mean that Hissarlik is the site of the poem (the Iliad), something in a sense known since inscriptions found around 1800 identified it as Roman Ilium, over half a century before Heinrich Schliemann largely destroyed the place in digs which he mistakenly claimed proved it was the site of the Trojan War, which it wasn't, or at least not the site of the Greek Trojan War (some details of the poem may reflect Bunarbashan and other local memories of one or more quite different Wilusan 'Trojan' wars). But of course under Wikipedia rules none of these speculations can appear in the article except where they are already mentioned in reliable and relevant references, and I know too little on the subject to know of any, but perhaps other editors might. Tlhslobus (talk) 11:38, 10 January 2013 (UTC)