IX. End as of 9/9/95
To notes as of 9/9/95
1. We think that much the same thing happened with Homer's text but in fits and starts.
a) Athens, for example, only has a few legends from the Heroic Age of Mycenean civilization. They did everything they could with Theseus and by having people such as the Sons of Heracles coming to Athens, not to mention Heracles themselves.
b) One of the explanations for the catalogue of ships (2.480-760) is that the various local communities--or the bards who wanted a friendly reception at this or that community--put themselves into the story.
c) Just take a look at Athens' entry in 2.544-556. Sounds like the roll call at a political convention, doesn't it?
2. Peisistratus and others had funded readings of Homer to make themselves look good--starting in the very later 4th Century B.C. the rulers of Ptolemaic Egypt and Pergamon sought to make themselves look good by funding textual criticism of Homer.
a) The Great Library at Alexandria (which got its start as a defense plant) was founded by Ptolemy I who funded some awfully brilliant people to move there and try to establish what Homer actually wrote.
b) I should note that in so doing the idea of Classical Studies was born, and a good chunk of what's going on in Academe today.
c) They did a pretty good job of weeding out the interpolations and not too bad a job at doing something we're quite sure Homer didn't--chopping each epic into 24 books.
d) There was a reason for that--explain papyrus rolls (scapi) and the 30 foot working maximum, sheets and umbilici, etc.
e) The job was more finished than any other achievement of Classical scholarship, but you'll not be surprised to hear that there are still substantial numbers of people working on it now.
X. All right--that's how we got the books--Now what about what's IN THEM?
A. But first--WHY were those Alexandrian and Pergamene scholars working so hard to establish that text?
1. Western civilization now has what used to be and what a great many people still think was a recorded standard of morality--the Bible
2. Homer offered a readable, intelligent guide to individual conduct, survival, and relationship to the supenatural and other untrollable events. Do I have to paint you a picture?
B. AND having said that, why should you care?
1. Because the moral code that shaped these books and the civilzation that valued them so highly isn't the same one that you're reacting to now.
2. The Christian moral code that supplanted the one expressed here had something dramatically different to offer, as Jesus Himself put it, "You have heard it said that you should love friend and hate your enemy...Isn't that what the pagans do?
3. When Achilles lets the Greek army get butchered while he "sulks in his tent," and Odysseus slaughters suitors begging for mercy, they're responding to that moral code.
4. It's a function of changing values.
a) The quintessential Greek value was arete which we very badly translate at "virtue," although if we knew our Latin that wouldn't be so bad (that which characterizes a proper man).
(1) By Plato's time, arete could be the special property that made water satisfying to thirst
(2) Aristotle would talk of arete being the mean between two vices
(3) But in Homer's time, when they were trying to rebuilt a civilization, arete was true to its etymoligcal origin and meant, primarily, skill in warfare--out of which people stopped being driven cattle and started to become men and women again.
5. Other values also differ, others have remained absolutely constant
a) Christianity values humility (Grant), vs. the ancients time, kudos, kleos and gloria (Alexander).
b) Christians lived their lives with an eye to the hereafter, to Homer the hereafter was this big cave full of bats and meeping, mindless ghosts and little else-- Od. 11, Achilles about preferring to be a sharecropper to being lord of the dead, 11.575-80, and the only happiness anybody had at all down there was knowing that people were still talking about you up here=immortality.
c) We're not talking about aliens, here, note--but very human people with some values that have remained universal.
(1) Consider the picture of Hector, the great Trojan warrior, chewing out his brother for starting this stupid war (6.325-330), longing for Andromache, who loves him (Il. 6.370ff.) fighting because he does not want his wife and little son dragged off to be slaves (6.445) and because he does not want to let his comrades down (6.440-445). The U.S. Army spent thousands finding out that that is the best so called "Combat Motivator. (Devils in Baggy Pants, Hillbilly. and the Iliad).
(2) When Hector dies Helen remembers that he was always kind to her (24.762-775). Is there anything more gut-wrenching than Hector, doomed, taking off his war helmet because it frightens his doomed little son (6.465-475), and praying over Astyanax as he embraces him?
d) The Iliad ends, in fact, when Achilles watches Priam weeping over his own dead son, and realizes that his old father will soon be doing the same for him. (Il. 24.507-540). Even the gods are helpless to prevent the miseries we inherit with our first breath.
XI. End as of 9/11/95
XII. What I Saw in Your Papers
A. A rather foolhardy belief that you could talk about what you wish, rather than what the question asks for.
B. I knew a professor who delighted in asking questions that seemed to have one answer, and then would slaughter you if you gave it. Quite often we never were quite sure what the bastard had wanted.
C. Here and in any essay exam--put that question sheet in front of you.
1. Organize your thoughts (the word processors even have features to help you do that, such as outline and overwrite.
2. Make sure that every paragraph is complete in and of itself, and that EVERY paragraph responds directly to your effort to answer the question.
D. The burden of proof is on you, and no light one!
1. You refer to something in the text, you tell me EXACTLY where to find it-- Book and Line number.
2. You want to refer to something today, the burden gets no lighter!
a) You want to quote ANY book, and that includes the bible, directly or indirectly, you tell me where I can go to see where you got it.
b) DON'T quote me. You think I had the right idea about something, figure out (you've GOT a bibliography) where I got it. YOU are doing the work and getting the grade!
c) If you refer to something you think is common knowledge, nail it down: Fathers love their children--mention a proverbial case, Kramer vs. Kramer, ANYTHING. Nail it down.
3. ANYBODY, ANY time, will ask you to have the facts at hand. Have them in the papers when you have the time to look them up, acquire them, and write them down.
E. We are making a formal change in your syllabus--Check the Home Page
1. "Rough" draft has been formally (and should have always been, sorry) changed to "First" draft.
2. DON'T apologize to me for jobs left undone--the person you've clobbered is yourself because I can't go over and catch the mistakes you're likely to make when you actually get around to completing what is assigned.
F. READ your comments. Santa Claus is just concerned enough about your education (read: Not quite burned out, and doing these read- throughs to HELP you) to turn into Dracula if that's what takes to get your attention.
XIII. End as of 9/29/95
XIV. Sequels and Prequels: An old problem:
A. Homer extracted these two masterpieces out of an existing corpus of myths.
B. Others realized that this material could be mined profitably (they hoped to them) and exhausted every last bit of the Trojan war they could.
C. The ancients called the resulting collection of writings the <1E)PIOK\OC KU/KLOC>1, but you'll find people dumb enough to call it the "Homeric Cycle," which conjures up images of Homer pedaling up and down the hills of Asia Minor, or tooling down I-95 on his BSA. (Stole that joke from Richard Armour).
D. A fellow named Proclus in the 2nd A. D. did the summary of which we are now aware:
1. The prequels went WAY back:
a) The Theogonia was how it all started. Hesiod was NOT in this tradition, but somebody wanted to go all the way back.
b) Then there was the Titanomachia, maybe by Arctinus or Eumelus, gods vs. the titans
2. Then we get to the Trojan war proper, starting with the
a) The Cypria, which someone tried to pass off as by Homer, 11 books going back to Eris and the Apple to the kidnapping of Helen and quite possibly Chryseis.
b) Then comes the Iliad, 24 books and about four weeks from the quarrel to the funeral of Hector
3. Then came the later round of sequels to the Iliad, covering the ground in between that and the Odyssey that Homer left
a) Arctinus of Miletus may have written the 5 books of the Aethiopis around 776, studied by my old teacher, Kopff.
(1) First Hippolyta and the Amazons try to drive off the Greeks
(2) Thersites opens his mouth once too often
(3) Memnon, son of the Dawn leads a rescue expedition from Egypt and Ethipia, and gets killed by Achilles and
(4) Achilles gets killed by Paris
(5) Paris gets killed by Philoctetes
(6) Ajax and Odysseus quarrel over the armor, Athena drives Ajax insane and he kills himself (Play the Ajax by Sophocles)
b) Lesches of Lesbos seems to have written the Little Iliad, 4 books describing
(1) The Trojan horse story and
(2) The sack of Troy, murder of Priam by Neoptolemus
(3) Departure of the Greek Army
c) There was a separate poem by Arctinus, called the Sack of Ilion, that described the sack itself and probably contained some of the juicier books--two bits, sung by Nero "while Rome burned."
4. Then came the prequels to the Odyssey
a) The Nostoi, returns, may have been a 5 book collection by Agais or Troezen
b) Or just a number of shorter stories describing exactly what happened at the end to the rest of the Greek heroes: Diomedes, Idomeneus, Teucer, etc.
5. Then the Odyssey, 24 books
a) Then something called the Thesprotis, about what happened to Odysseus by one Musaeus followed by
b) Eugammon of Kyrene's 2 books of the Telegony, where Telegonus, Odysseus's son by Circe comes to Ithaca, accidentally kills him (sorry Homer), and MARRIES PENELOPE while Telemachus MARRIES CIRCE. Books we're glad are lost...
E. And in other media, there's the
1. Oresteia by Aeschylus, detailing the fate of Agamemnon, Aegisthus, Clytemnestra, and Orestes
2. Euripides did several: The Trojan Women, the Hecuba, and the Helen
F. And finally, Vergil, the Aeneid, not quite completed when he died in 19 B.C.
G. Dante himself took a swipe at Odysseus in passing, putting him in the Inferno and
H. Milton even pauses to note that all the Greek gods were Satan's demons deceiving men.
End as of 10/2/95
To Notes as of 11/1/95