The World of Odysseus

The World of Odysseus

M. I. Finley

Language: English

Pages: 192

ISBN: B000J35D14

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

The World of Odysseus is a concise and penetrating account of the society that gave birth to the Iliad and the Odyssey--a book that provides a vivid picture of the Greek Dark Ages, its men and women, works and days, morals and values. Long celebrated as a pathbreaking achievement in the social history of the ancient world, M.I. Finley's brilliant study remains "as indispensable to the professional as it is accessible to the general reader"--a fundamental companion for students of Homer and Homeric Greece.
Preface by Mark van Doren













nor any meadowland." 16 The Greek word customarily rendered by “treasure” is keimelion, literally something that can be laid away. In the poems treasure was of bronze, iron, or gold, less often of silver or fine cloth, and usually it was shaped into goblets, tripods, or caldrons. Such objects had some utilitarian worth and they could provide aesthetic satisfaction too, but neither function was of real moment compared to their value as symbolic wealth or prestige wealth. The twin uses of treasure

change continued to vary throughout Greek history. • After Homer, both Achaca and Argos survived as local place names, districts in southern Grcccc. 8 The World of Odysseus One element, however, was remarkably stable all the time. The language with which the migrants entered Greece is classi­ fied as a member of the numerous Indo-European family, which includes the ancient languages of India (Sanskrit) and Persia, Armenian, the Slavic tongues, several Baltic languages (Lithu­ anian, for

guestfriendship with the Spartans, but Homer knew of no such tie between Argives and Lycians or Taphians and Ithacans— only between individuals, Diomedes and Glaucus, “Mentes” and Telemachus. “Guest-friend,” it is understood, is the conven­ tional, admittedly clumsy, English rendition of the Greek xenos in one of its senses. The same Greek word meant “stranger,” “foreigner,” and sometimes “host,” a confusion symbolic of the ambivalence which characterized all dealings with the stranger in that

relations, but with the powerful lords the personal merged into 108 The World of Odysseus the political, and then guest-friendship was the Homeric ver­ sion, or forerunner, of political and military alliances. Not that every guest-friend automatically and invariably responded to a call to arms; that would have been a pattern of uniformity unattaincd, and unattainable, in the fluid and unstable political situation of the world of Odysseus. In this respect a guest-friend was like a king; his

the Greeks feared a little and did not like at all, from the days of Odysseus to the twilight of the gods. Neither Athena nor the poet went further in explaining Morals and Values 141 Penelope’s behavior. The responsibility for Helen, however, was explicitly Aphrodite’s. Early in the Iliad, Paris engaged Menclaus in single combat and was within an inch of losing his life when “Aphrodite snatched him up most easily, being a god, and covered him with a heavy mist and set him down in his fragrant,

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