This Monday will mark the end of the Greek geography videos and the beginning of the discussion of Greek history. I felt it was wise before entering into the main discussion, however, to warn people little what was going to be taking place. Some of you may already be aware of the nuances of ancient Greek history. However, I will proceed as though those who are listening and watching have never, ever had any exposure to the ancient Greek world beyond a high school level. I have no intention of placing any form of a timetable on the discussions that will take place.
If it turns out that we spend days even weeks on a single topic. I will not have any problem with this. The point of these videos after all, are to inform the average person of the importance and the complexity of ancient Greek history. This demands that I take no consideration for time in regards to moving on from topic to topic. I would much rather have people understand the subject matter in as detailed fashion as possible rather than have only a cursory understanding of such an important subject.
I will probably not spend as much time on the Homeric age as one might expect as the sources are limited in the information is only so useful as we will discover when it comes to the Homeric epics. Most of our information actually comes from archaeology. Without primary literary sources such a discussion can only have a very limited scope. However, I do think it is important to describe the precursor to ancient Greek society so that we might help to understand why it evolved in a way that it evolved.
Although we tend to think of the Homeric epics as being something from a bygone age they are in fact a product of the archaic period of Greek history. It was in this time that the most preeminent works of the archaic age were composed. Most people are of course familiar with two of these works, those being the Iliad and the Odyssey written by the ubiquitous traveling bard Homer. But the third and fourth works are less well known to the general public.
The other two works were composed by a Boeotian known as Hesiod and are little known outside of classical circles. While some of Hesiod’s works exist in only fragments, two of these works do come to us in extant form. Theogony is considered Hesiod’s earliest work and is found to have many connections With Mesopotamian myth. However, Works and Days is a common sense book dedicated to agrarian sensibilities and proper dealings between family members and friends. The Sword of Heracles is often attributed to Hesiod, but many scholars consider this work to be of a later date, and by a different author. Regardless, the Iliad, the Odyssey, Works and days and, Theogony, are considered to be the premier works at this time.
This is of course a brief overview of what we will be discussing in the archaic. More than anything I want the reader to be aware of the fact that these works were composed; at least in the case of the Iliad and the Odyssey, and of course Theogony, at a much later date than the events they portray. The archaic poet was reaching back to it time now long past. A more noble and heroic age that needed to be replicated in the modern era. Particularly in the case of the Iliad. It was believed that the Greek male was meant to emulate the actions of the heroes such as Achilles and Hector especially on the field of battle.
It cannot be understated . The effect of these works on the society as a whole in archaic Greek culture. The moral lessons portrayed in the Iliad, the Odyssey, Theogony, and Works and Days, were considered a blueprint for living among the Greeks. This was especially important as the Greeks did not derive morality from their God’s.
These works, were the most well known of their time. But they were certainly not the only works of their time. Numerous poets and other authors existed throughout the Greek world, unfortunately some of their work only comes to us in fragmentary parts and in other cases has been lost altogether. In the case of the lyric poet Sappho a modest amount of her work does remain as is the case for Pindar. But these are unfortunately the exception.
So it is my hope that people will know what to expect in the coming videos. I have also taken this opportunity to test out my new voice recognition software, and this is how this particular blog entry has been written. I felt like this was a good way to practice with this new software before I intended to use it for any other particularly trying purpose. If there are any strange sentences or omissions or perhaps some punctuation that is off, that is entirely my fault. But I have to be able to test the software out some ways so I thought that my blog was probably the best possible solution. I also know that at least here I will learn to refine how this particular apparatus works, and therefore get better at using it in the future. However, I do apologize for those few of you who do read this blog in advance. You have become the unwitting guinea pigs in my little experiment when it comes to voice recognition software. I hope that you will be patient with me as I learn this new tool.
Once again I cannot stress that the following videos of what will be going into will take a considerable amount of time. But what better way to spend time discussing some of the most important aspects of our shared history, rather than discussing frivolous and often pointless aspects of the Internet and its community. There will be something for everyone in these discussions. Classical history encompasses all matters human, from politics and economics to religion, history, psychology, art warfare geography and, of course, philosophy that most “Greek” of inventions in the eyes of Western thought. So the Trojans buried Hector breaker of horses.
I hope everyone will enjoy what is coming.