The Trojan War. The Dark Ages.
Heinrich Schliemann and his discoveries.
For a long time, the events described in the Iliad were considered fiction - until the appearance on the historical arena of such a person as Heinrich Schliemann (1822-1890)2. In 1870, he went to the northwest of Asia Minor, where he conducted excavations at the site of the Hissarlyk mound. None of the archaeologists believed in the success of the new enterprise, but Schliemann, since he was not a scientist and did not read special scientific literature, found a settlement, which he identified with ancient Troy.1 Then in 1876 he excavated the mine tombs in Mycenae (Circle A) and almost opened the Knossos Palace on Crete 2 - he had the flair of a professional archaeologist.
Schliemann's whole life was pursued by two traditions: one constantly praised him, and the other, mainly coming from scientists, was associated with fierce criticism of him, since Schliemann's excavations, even for that time, were conducted at an extremely low level: he sought to get as many gold items as possible, without caring about the necessary for further research documentation (excavation plan, determination of the exact location of the finds, etc.). All the valuables found by Schliemann and his Greek wife were secretly taken abroad from Turkey, causing ongoing disputes about who they should belong to. The scientific value of these studies was obtained thanks to other researchers who processed the material obtained by Schliemann, which, however, does not diminish his overall merit to antiquity. Now most of these treasures, taken out of Germany after the Second World War, are kept in the Moscow Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts.
"The Homeric question."The "Iliad" and "Odyssey" are connected with the so-called "Homeric question" - the problem of authorship and the time of creation of the two poems.
The time of creation is quite difficult to determine, but it is already known that in the VII century BC poems were performed in Athens by itinerant rhapsody singers ("song stitchers"), and in the VI century, under the tyrant Pisistratus, they were recorded; from now on a certain order of their performance was established. This entry became the basis of a later edition of the poem. The appearance of the written text testified to the drying up of the oral tradition, thanks to which the poems lived, and its slow death, in connection with which there was a need for recording.
According to current historical data, the Trojan War dates back to 1240-1230 BC. During this period, several campaigns could have been made, which in the late memory of the Greeks merged into one. The roots of the poems obviously go back to the history of Greece of the II millennium BC: the Iliad mainly depicts Achaean society, and the Odyssey depicts the life of the Greeks during the "dark ages".
The question of authorship has not yet been definitively resolved. For a long time in European literature, Homer was considered the only author of poems. However, the German scientist F. Wolf at the very end of the XVIII century formulated the "Homeric question" for the first time, putting forward the idea of the folk origin of the poems, which Homer later reworked. Numerous scientific discussions began with Wolf, which have not yet been completed. In the XIX century, several versions of the origin of the Iliad and the Odyssey were developed. For example, the "theory of small songs" divided the Homeric epic into separate unrelated songs, only later united by one poet. The "Theory of Grain" recognized Homer as the author of a small work, which was refined and expanded by others. There were versions of absolute singleness of the author of both poems or collective creativity. None of these theories is generally accepted.
In any case, the poems are a fusion of folk and individual creativity, they undoubtedly contain plots rooted in folk poetics: funeral lamentations, wedding songs associated, for example, with the return of a husband to his wife, myths, legends, travel novelistics, as well as a certain historical layer, thanks to which it is restored part of Greek history.
Greek tribes and their dialects.
On the border of the II-I millennia BC, the migration of the Dorians takes place. Further settlement of the Greeks can be determined by the placement of the main Greek tribes with their own language dialects: Dorians, Ionians, Achaeans and Aeolians. They are localized quite clearly. The Dorians, the northwestern tribes, settled mainly in the Peloponnese: coming from the north, they settled in the south of the peninsula - these are the founders of the future Sparta, who conquered the local population and most of Crete.
According to legend, the Ionians were the first to move to Balkan Greece, but after the invasion of the Dorians, some of them mastered other lands - the center of the Aegean archipelago and islands to the west of Asia Minor: Samos, Chios and a number of others. There were twelve legendary cities of Asia Minor, of which the largest were Miletus, Ephesus, Colophon (the territory of modern Turkey). This region - Ionia - was the leading region of Hellas until the VI century, it was here that major changes in culture, economy and politics took place, which had an impact on continental Greece. For example, a well-known school of natural philosophers arose here. Ionic was a link between the East and the Greek world, being an outpost of the latter.
The Attic dialect (a variety of Ionian) was spoken by the locals of Central Greece, the Attics - Achaeans. They were pushed back by the Dorians who came here. Before the arrival of the Dorians, the Achaeans lived in the northeastern part of Thessaly and the Peloponnese.
The last, fourth dialect is Aeolian. Its bearers lived in the northwestern part of Asia Minor and on the island of Lesbos (Aeolid). The Aeolians also prevailed in Thessaly and Boeotia.
The Greek people, self-determined by the beginning of the I millennium BC, was formed for a long time from a mixture of many tribes. It was in this "ethnographic cauldron" that the Greek genius was born, since the absence of national or racial "purity" is a feature inherent in peoples who create great culture. There are almost unknown cases in history when an "ethnically pure" people left behind a legacy of world significance.
General characteristics of the period.
Hellas in the XI-IX centuries BC was a rather backward region. Despite a sharp setback in the development of Homeric society, no obvious traces of the conquest of the local population by aliens were found, and the disasters that befell the inhabitants of Greece could be the result of internal civil wars. Large cities are disappearing - some of them have not been revived later - and small, modest towns are emerging in their place. Everything becomes smaller: settlements, houses, cemeteries, production - cyclopean palaces with huge lands and monumental tombs disappear. There is a simplification of everyday life: rough ceramic vessels with the simplest geometric ornament are common on the farm, and gold items are no longer found in burials.
The beginning of the first millennium BC is the era of the widespread spread of iron, from this time the Iron Age begins. For the improvement of military affairs, iron had a revolutionary significance, since it was a more durable material than bronze.
Overseas trade is fading, major ties with distant regions are being suppressed. Trade is conducted only with the surrounding areas. For example, Attica trades with the Cycladic Islands, Thessaly, Aegina. The limitations of foreign policy life were also due to the widespread piracy. Not only ordinary sea robbers, but even merchant mariners sometimes could not resist the temptation to ruin seaside villages, so it was dangerous to embark on a long journey.
The Homeric Society.The basis of the society was made up of free community members: farmers and artisans who were members of the People's Assembly, which made decisions on the main issues of the life of the city-state. However, it was collected irregularly and over time began to lose its original meaning. It is possible that slavery appears in this era, the source of which is internecine wars that led to the capture of prisoners. Slavery was patriarchal in nature and did not generate a fierce confrontation between slaves and masters, which would arise in the Roman Empire - slaves were family members, participated in a common meal and home holidays. The slave was not regarded as a person alienated from the master. The highest stratum of society were the basileae - the first aristocrats, people of "blue blood", who formed the Council, with the decisions of which the People's Assembly was considered. The concept of nobility depended on the pedigree of the family name, not on wealth. This is what distinguished the Basilei from ordinary community members, since they otherwise led a simple life, just like the community members. This is a primitive and undeveloped form of tsarist power, not comparable to the ancient Eastern one. For example, the ambassadors who came to call Odysseus to march to Troy, find the king of the island of Ithaca plowing a field. Odysseus is not ashamed of the fact that he cultivated the land and made his own bed. The Basileos do not have such a condescending attitude and disregard for craft, for physical labor, which will arise among the later Greek aristocracy. "Iliad" and "Odyssey" reflect the period when for tribal leaders the responsibility to the tribal collective has already gone into the past, and the responsibility to the collective of citizens has not yet been formed, because there are no citizens yet. These are special ethical standards. Agamemnon, Odysseus personally may be wrong, people die because of them, but no one accuses them of anything. For example, Odysseus takes his companions to the island to the cyclops Polyphemus, who kills his comrades. The survivors do not condemn Odysseus, since no one sees the leader's guilt - he is outside the bounds of the judgments of his companions. There is still no clear idea of ethics, and a person's life is not put in strict dependence on his moral behavior. Achilles must die, whether he is cruel or kind, Troy will be destroyed, regardless of the piety or malice of its citizens - according to the Greeks, events are guided by fate, divine and human will, but do not depend on the moral values of people. Ethics as an awareness of the need to measure one's actions with certain moral norms of society will be formed later, but the Iliad and Odyssey are already the boundary beyond which the idea of the duties of people within a civic collective arises. Homeric time is a period of hidden accumulation of the spiritual forces of the Greeks, who were preparing for a new breakthrough in internal development.