This information has come from: The Cambridge Companion to Homer edited by Robert Fowler.The Chapter is called "Homer's Society" and it is written by Robin Osborne. Published by Cambridge University Press, 2004.

I have retyped the chapter, and added explanations or left out text. Stuff in brackets ( ) is my extra information and the stuff in square brackets [ ] is my clarifications of what words mean.

Introduction -
What sort of a world did Homer live in? What sort of a world does Homer create? [in his epic]. If we allow[say] that "Homer" in these questions stands not for the text in the form we have it but for the whole [oral epic tradition] that created that text (then it is difficult to answer. This chapter endeavours [tries] to explain what we know about the societies in which the epic tradition was shaped, to describe the social and political arrangements implied or alluded to in the Iliad and the Odyssey, and to examine the relationship between the worlds in which "Homer" lived and the worlds which "Homer" created.

(think about how Homer was reciting his epic poem of the Odyssey in 800 BC and he was writing about 1250 BC. He is going to be making a story that reflects what he and the rest of his society "know" about 1250 BC and also reflecting Greek society from 800BC just because that is his frame of reference/world view).

Greek society in the Late Bronze Age and Early Iron Age

The epic tradition which lies behind the Iliad and Odyssey was already flourishing [doing really well as entertainment and an art form] in the late Bronze Age. Some of the evidence for that proposition is linguistic, some of it archaeological: words and objects (e.g. a board's tusk helmet 10.261-5) appear in the poem whose presence cannot easily be explained by their survival or people remembering them into the time that the Iliad and Odyssey as we have them were put together. Any reading of the Iliad or Odyssey needs to be informed [you gotta realise that] ...the epic tradition had been formed and shaped through successive very different social arrangements and material cultures.

What we know best in the late Bronze Age are the palace societies. The citadels of Mycenae and Tiryns in the north-east Peloponnese have been extensively excavated; the palaces of Pylos, in the sourth-west Peloponnese, and Knossos, in Crete, have yielded [shown up] extensive records written on clay tablets, as well as rich architectural remains.

Although ...details will [continue] to be debated, the broad outlines of palace societies seem clear. From the end of the early Bronze Age onwards (i.e. end of the third millenium BC), population throughout the Aegean [sea area] world shows tendencies to cluster in nucleated settlements; these settlements grow in size and sophistication during the first half of the second millennium. With street plans exhibiting [showing] some regularity, houses with two storeys and many rooms, and some grouping of major facilities around squares, these towns suggest a high degree of community organisation. Contemporary [at the same time as] with this growth of towns is the emergence of the first of the palaces, at Knossos. But the major development of places on the mainland [of Greece] begins towards the middle of the second millennium and reaches its height around 1300BC [around 50 years before the Trojan War is meant to have taken place].

Architecturally the mainland palaces are distinguished by units comprising [made up of] a large hall, its roof supported by columns, approached from a court, often via [through] an anteroom [some kind of 'before' room], flanked by corridors leading to further small rooms. Construction of the main floor employs [uses] timber framing, with an additional mud-brick storey above. The main rooms often show signs of painted fresco decorations; other rooms can be identified as places of storage or craft actvitity.
The evidence of the clay tablets, which survive only when accidental fire has baked them, increases our confidence that the palaces were administrative centres concerned to collect and record the production and movement of a wide range of agricultural and other goods. The hierarchy of administrators visible in the tablets reveal the existence at the top of the hierarchy of a 'leader of the people' or lawagetas and a wanax;. The lawagetas has military responsibilities, the wanax has religious responsibilities and the respective shares of land that they have suggest that it is the wanax who has the paramount position.

More general insight into rulership within the palaces is afforded [got] by the evidence of burials and of iconography [things represented by pictures or sculpture]. The iconagraphy of frescoes, both at Minoan Crete and at Mycenae and Pylos, reinforces the impression that religious rituals played a central role in palace societies and that religious authority was crucial. Ritual scenes area also frequently found on seals, although outnumbered there by scenes of animals. Most late Bronze Age tomb types - chamber tombs, shaft graves and the 'beehive' or tholos tombs - are used for group burial. This fact, along witthe the richness of the tombs, in particular at Mycenae where the grave goods include the gold masks that causes Schliemann [ famous archaeologist] to claim that he had looked upon the face of Agamemnon, indicate that kinship [family ties] was important in claims to authority. The care taken at Mycenae to preserve and indeed pick out the earlier Grave Circle "A" [ for Agamemnon] when citadel walls were built suggests that claims to particular ancestors were an important part of asserting status among the elite. Painted clay coffins called larnakes show groups of women involved in ritual lamentation, and standard ritual seems to have involved placing the body in the tomb, surrounding it with grave goods, and then engaging in a ceremony involving drinking and/or pouring libations. Cremation is attested [has been proved or spoken about] but is a minority rite limited to certain particular places. The wealth of the richest burials suggests that the elite also competed in access to exotic goods and materials, and the extent to which vessel [places bowls cups] forms, in metal and in pottery, are dominated by shapes associated with drinking suggests that much of social life and social competition focused upon feasting, and more particularly drinking, and that not just among the elite.

Competition within the elite is also apparent from the very elaborate treatment that weapons receive: from Dendra in the north-east Peloponnese elaborate body armour, greaves [shin pads] and a boar's tusk helmet survive, evidence of sophisticated craftsmanship, and spears and swords and daggers are found in highly decorated versions, above all the "lion Hunt Dagger" from Mycenae. But it is in competition between elites that such arms are employed [used]. That compeitition is apparent from the fortification of citadel [lookout/castle]sites above all at Mycenae itself, and from scenes of warfare in frescoes and on pottery. A miniature frieze from Akrotiri on Thera shows warriors with body-length shields. Chariots are also known, their design apparently specially adapted for Greek conditions, and the Mycenaean road system may have been developed primarily for their use.

Around 1200 BC Mycenaean palace society collapsed. For reasons which are still the subject of much speculation, the whole edifice, with its complex administration, high degree of specialisation, and extensive contacts both east and west in the Mediterranean, crumbled. The 12th century post-palatial [Greek] period saw changes in settlement pattern and population distribution as people moved to coastal sites and then out of the southern Greek mainland altogether, to Ionia, Cyprus and elsewhere. Not only were specialisms such as scribal [writing] literacy, figurative drawing and metallurgical skills lost, but the common culture was replaced by highly localised variation, seen above all in the vast range of local burial customs to be found in the 11th and 10th centuries.

The contrast with the late Bronze Age has caused the period from 1100 to 800BC to be dubbed the "Dark Age". Our knowledge of the period is increasing, and it s now clear that in some areas of Greece, and in particular in central Greece, there was quite a flourishing population, but the cultural contrasts remain.

Archaeologists remain divided over whether the evidence is best account for by supposing an invasion of "Dorians" from the north or supposing internal developments. Continuities are few, but they include some religious continuity: Linear B tablets mention the names of Olympian gods, including Dionysus, and continuity of cult activity is clear at the important site of Kalapodi (classical Hyampolis) in Phocis. They also include the epic tradition [!!!!].

What we know most about during the 11th to the 9th centuries BC is burial customs. Group burial ceased to be the predominant custom during the 12th century and outside Crete those dead that received archaeologically visible burial generally continue to be disposed of individually. Inhumantion (burial) and cremation are both attested to (have evidence for), sometimes as contemporary alternatives (different choices available during the same time period) within a single community, more normally as alternatives at different times. The method of inhumation (cist graves, pit graves, inhumation in pots) and cremation (on a pyre or within the tomb) vary from time to time, place to place, and with the status of the deceased (dead person.)

Cist graves are:
http://www.macedonian-heritage.gr/HellenicMacedonia/en/EC.1.1.6.3a.html
These were relatively small graves in the shape of rectangular parallelepipeds whose sides were faced with slabs. Cist graves were used from prehistory to the end of antiquity. In the Archaic period, in northern Greece these tombs became large-sized subterranean constructions destined for the burial of members of high-ranking families in each district. Some of these had also painted decoration on their walls.

In geometry, a parallelepiped is a three-dimensional figure formed by six parallelograms. (The term rhomboid is also sometimes used with this meaning.) ...
external image images?q=tbn:ANd9GcTqS9culiU2Y19N7eiTUFWRKqbN2lntutHa53tFddsQhLf_hY28

The quantity and nature of grave goods similarly varies; 9th century BC graves are generally richer than 11th or 10th century BC graves, but while in Argos graves continue to get richer in the 8th century BC, elsewhere the 8th century BC sees grave goods decreasing [in content and richness]. Similarly, ...weapons are most common in 10th century and 9th century graves, but at Argos they are rare in those centuries and become common in the 8th century. Some changes [to grave goods] may be by-products of technological change. In particular bronze is gradually replaced by iron, which does not survive well, as the working metal; this cannot but have had an impact on the real and symbolic value of both metals. Nevertheless, changes in burial goods allow us to say something about the nature of the community, and not just about its technologies.

Two sorts of inference [suggestions/conjecture] can be made from grave goods. The very presence of certain sorts of goods indicates something about the communities' concerns [values] and connections. Weapons [being present in the graves] suggest that value was put upon prowess [good ability] in war, spits associated with the cooking of sacrificed animals and prominent in burials in the late 8th century at Argos, may point towards the prestige to gained from contributing to the communal feasting that marked religious festivals. [in other words, if you contributed to sacrifices for the community then you would be noted for it and get buried with a spit in your grave goods]. Similarly, imported goods in graves indicate both the extent to which a community was part of the wider exchange networks that seem to have opened up [trade], in particular in the 9th century BC, and the possibility of marking status by depositing exotic goods ...which not everyone had access [to].

Women's graves can be distinguished from men's graves not by the quantity of grave goods - there are some very rich women's raves - but by their type; and in Athens also the manner of burying. From the fact that in the Ceramicus cemetery at Athens both vases and more particular metals goods are less evenly distributed in the 10th and 9th centuries BC than in the 8th century BC. [Archaeologists have inferred that although the ancient Greek society was becoming more hierarchical in shape there was a greater ability for all women to have access to metal goods] Throughout the period and in all regions children are treated in a quite different way from adults.

Support for the view that at least some Greek communities in the Dark Age were extremely hierarchical has come from the dramatic discovery at Lefkandi, between Chalcis and Eretria on Euboea, of a massive building, employing [using] dressed stone as well as mud brick, dating to around 1000 BC and housing elaborate burials of a man and a woman, with gold jewellery, exotic items and associated horse burials. Built on the edge of the cemetery area, this building testifies to the ability of someone within that community to command enormous labour resources, as well as the incomparable wealth represented by the grave goods. Much remains unclear about this building including whether the burials came before or after the building, but it offers material evidence for elaborate funerary ritual and makes clear how important the treatment of the dead was in the social construction of the community [and this was already before Homer recited his epic].

By contrast, those who stress the continuing egalitarianism [equality] of the period point to the best known of all settlements, that at Zagora on Andros. Here in the 8th century co-ordinated single-roomed houses were built [in a regular manner]. Even when these houses were enlarged after a generation by the construction of additional rooms, this was done in a remarkably uniform way. AT least as excavated, this is a settlement ... without [the presence of] exceptional dwellings and the cemetery has not been discovered.


The 8th century BC has sometimes been terms a 'renaissance'. Various marked cultural changes occur: sanctuaries, both new and old, receive massively increased quantities of dedications [to the gods or pottery votive offerings].

Sanctuaries were sacred placed in the ancient world that could be in natural surroundings, like the interior of caves or tops of hills, or in man-made shrines, whether urban or not. In //Greek Sanctuaries: New Approaches//, authors Nanno Marinatos and Robin Hagg cite philologist A. Motte to say that sanctuaries were an intermediate, liminal zone between the realm of the divine and that of the human. A sanctuary could be stationed at the border of the polis and could serve as a place of asylum. While runaway slaves could seek asylum in sanctuaries, so could out-of-favor politicians. In the story of the Trojan War, the Locrian Ajax (as opposed to the other, better known Ajax) violated the sanctuary where the prophetess Cassandra had taken asylum by dragging her away from the statue of Athena or raping her there, for which reason the Greeks had wanted to stone him to death. Protection was under the authority of the god honored by the sanctuary, since this deity was believed to live within

The first substantial [big] temple buildings are constructed, and in certain areas offerings [to the gods]begin to be [put] at old tombs. Figure scenes [pictures] involving both humans and animals start to reappear on painted pottery. Writing [using] a new alphabet [from] the Phoenicians spread ...rapidly round the Greek world, with communities developing their own local letter forms. Settlement numbers increase substantially. From the middle of the 8th century onwards Greek communities set themselves up outside the traditional Greek homeland, and in particular in Italy and Sicily. These developments all imply [infer, point to] social complexity and a whole range of new choices and possibilities for individuals.

It is notable that many of these developments involved new means of communication. It is not simply writing ...that is important here, though it opened up momentous [huge] possibilities for communication [over] a distance, but communicative powers of iconography [The word iconography comes from the Greek εἰκών ("image") and γράφειν ("to write"). A secondary meaning (based on a non-standard translation of the Greek and Russian equivalent terms) is the production of religious images, called icons.]

The sanctuary as an arena [place to showcase] for communication between the living - [as well as] ...the dead, and tombs [were] a place of communication with the (often distant0 past. That the tomb as a place of communication should become attractive itself implies that human relations now needed to be conducted differently, and on a new scale. [Maybe because of the links that were being made to the wider world or because more people within the existing society were starting to play an active role within their society].

These developments in communication [impacted] on the epic tradition. [Remember Homer was an oral epic performer]....from the first half of the 7th century there can be no doubt that episodes of epic, some of which relate closely to the Iliad and the Odyssey [appear in the artists' work]. Epic allusions [references/influences] are ...in early writing, most notably on the 8th century Rhodian cup found at Pithecusae in the bay of Naples which proclaims itself to be 'the cup of Nestor'. ...There can be no doubt that the interest in the past that [a rise in tomb building shows] is parallel to the interests of the Homeric poems... in the late 8th century ...artefacts known to achaeology ...suggest that epic poetry was [known about and performed].
How far does Homeric epic ...reflect back this material world?

Politics and society in the Homeric poems


Homeric epic is highly political. The Iliad explores relations between [important] chiefs in the context of ...intercity warfare. The Odyssey examines issues of political succession in an extreme situation of political vacuum and uncertainty. The desirability of self-government, and the importance to individuals of status and power within the community. But the formal structures and institutions of the communities [in the Odyssey] are never more than lightly sketched [Homer doesn't give us much detail about how they live].

The fullest [most detailed] description of a political community in action is that of Ithaca in the Odyssey. Business is transacted at meetings of an assembly of the people [book 24]. ...Elders among the people appear to have priority in speaking, and affairs are regulated by a herald who puts a sceptre into the hands of the person which will [speak]. Debates occur and men are listened to who have something at stake in those debates or who have specialised knowledge (e.g. Halitherses, the interpreter of portents [omens].) The people gathered are not so much expected to reach a collective decision as to hear reports of what individuals have decided and to be guided in their own actions by the information [given to them when they assemble].

The delicate balance between conventional rules, individual authority and community participation found in the [example of the Odyssey's] Ithacan assembly is ...a mark of civilised society..It is a mark of civilised society to have laws and councils and we find similar assemblies and councils in the army at Troy and indeed among the gods [chatting about stuff].
In all cases status whether ascribed by birth or achieved, ... [has]... influence, but it creates only a presumption of authority [for the speaker with status] that has to be confirmed by the quality of the advice.

High birth, wealth, prowess in battle, are all factors that are put into the balance, but ability to give good advice on a particular occasion may outweigh them all. ....the epic world is a world of charismatic power.

How a world of this sort can run itself day-to-day is revealed on the shield made for Achilles by Hephaestus. Here, in the Iliad, we are shown both a city at war and a city at peace, and in the latter there are both weddings and banquets and also an act of litigation [making laws]. The dispute [still in the Iliad] concerns an act of homicide and the refusal of the relative of the deceased to accept compensation. The community is divided and in uproar, but both sides agree that the case should be decided by a third party. The elders are gathered and a large reward is offered to the one among them who pronounces justice 'most straightly'.

The ...provisional [maybe they'll keep maybe they wont] nature of authority is a fundamental feature of both [the Iliad and the Odyssey]. It lies behind both the dispute between Achilles and Agamemnon in the Iliad, and also the implicit [implied] approval bestowed upon Odysseus's ability to extricate [get himself out of] himself from potentially threatening situations by tricks and deceit. Odysseus' ability to adapt himself to the needs of the moment contrasts strongly with the intransigence [Refusing to moderate a position, especially an extreme position; uncompromising.]
of Achilles, and one major theme that the two epics explore is the moral limitations of both [stances].

Material goods are important markers of status within epic society. Negotiations of position by material exchange [features a lot]...The items exchanged are chiefly of metal (gold, silver, iron) or cloth....but also animals .Menelaus offers Telemachus horses and a chariot as well as a fine cup and in the end gives him a silver mixing bowl, while Helen gives him a garment to be stored up for his future wife. ...the silver bowl had been a gift to Menelaus from the king of the Sidonians... Other objects identified by origin include a silver wool-basket and silver bathtubs from Egypt [Book 4] and a silver-studded dagger from Thrace. Where something (or someone, in the case of slaves) came from, and who previously owned it, matters: value is created in multiple ways. IMPORTANT FOR GUEST FRIENDSHIP AND THE SOCIAL CONVENTION OF EXCHANGING GIFTS!!!

...it is a mark of the oddity of the Cyclopes that they have no ships [Book 9] but those whom we meet sailing the sea to sell goods are non-Greeks who deal in luxury, or at least semi-luxury, goods and some of them clearly do not expect to visit the same place more than once. Eumaeus remembers the Phoenicians who kidnapped him for the pretty things, and in particular the gold necklace strung with amber, that they brought. Eumaeus' kidnap is masterminded by his Sidonian nurse, noted for her craft skills, who had herself been kidnapped by TAphians who deal in bronze and iron...NOT GOOD GREEKS WHO LIVE BY XENIA!!

Wives as well as slaves are regularly acquired from foreign parts. Persons of status do not marry locally: Menelaus' son by a slave woman is indeed married to a local wife, but his daughter by Helen, Hermione, is married to Neoptolemus from Thessaly. Wives usually migrate to live with their husbands (as Penelope to Ithaca)....More frequently the bride's father receives rather than gives gifts, ....eg Laertes for Odysseus' sister Ctimene. Scholars disagree as to whether any historical society can have known both dowry and bride-price, particularly since some anthropological [study of people] work suggests that they are to be associated with quite different economic and social organisation. There is some reason to think that in the poems bride-price is a "marked signifier": in almost all cased the situation in which it is given is peculiar or 'foreign'. SO NOT A GREEK THING TO DO.

By taking a wife and acquiring slaves a man builds up his household. In the Iliad we get only glimpses of the 'normal' oikos, but the Odyssey presents a series of households - Odysseus' own, Laertes's, Alcinous's in PHaeacia, Menelaus's at Sparta. Although all but Laertes inhabit extensive palaces, the scale of the household is in no case great. Laertes himself works in his orchard, Alcinous' daughter Nausicaa is not exempt from involvement in household laundry duties, and Helen and Penelope engage in textile manufacture. In Ithaca, at least, the economic base is agricultural: the households have specialists devoted to breeding pigs and goats, and Laertes appears to command a large agricultural workforce. No social unit larger than the oikos is available in the Odyssey to co-ordinate action.

The activities that unite communities in epic are warfare, sacrifices to the gods, burial of a great hero, and the feasting that generally follows both sacrifices and burials. That relations with the gods matter to men is crucial to the plot of the Iliad [and the Odyssey]
...
Warfare required co-ordinated action, whether at the level of families (as in the final battle on Ithaca) at the level of cities, or at the level of the Greek alliance against Troy. But the description of warfare in epic concentrates on the exploits [doings] of the individual warrior, and the question of how Homeric battles are to be envisaged [looked at /imagined] has ...[been up for debate amongst scholars]. But if the overall organisation of warfare is not discussed [in the Odyssey] the individual warrior, his role and his armour are. Arming is a "stock scene" and although details vary ...the elements are consistent - greaves, [shin pads]cuirass [A cuirass is a piece of armour, formed of a single or multiple pieces of metal or other rigid material, which covers the front of the torso]
, sword, shield and crested helmet. Armour is sufficiently part of a warrior's identity that even minor figures such as Elpenor are cremated in it. Only major champions, however, travel about the battlefield in chariots. The primary offensive move is the throwing of spears. Hand to had fighting develops only occasionally, and the overall impression is of open formation conflict, with warriors massing together only to protect a fallen comrade or rescue his body.

Situating Homeric Society


For many aspects of the world portrayed in the Iliad and the Odyssey archaeology offers [no evidence]. The social obligations, so vaguely defined but so central to human relations in both poems, cannot be measured against the archaeological record. But there are also many aspects that do relate to the material record: archaeology gives us good evidence not only for settlements, sanctuaries and architecture, for burial, warfare and for the exchange of non-perishable goods, but also, if more speculatively [not sure if it's true or not] for social organisation and the distribution of wealth and power. Schliemann's [archaeologist] success in using the Iliad to locate major Bronze AGe sites at Troy, Mycenae and Tiryns and the possibility of identifying most, if not all, of the places mention in the "Catalogue of Ships [the Iliad] with sites with late Bronze AGe remains, led to the assumption that the Homeric epics would relate directly to other aspects of the late Bronze Age material record. That assumption was crucially questioned when the decipherment of Linear B revealed a palace organisation very different from that implied by the Homeric poems. In the d1950's M.I Finley argued that the Homeric world was a picture of the Greek Dark Ages. Anthony Snodgrass... denied that the world of the poems mapped onto any particular historical society. More recently a number of scholars have argued both that oral traditions must always relate primarily to the world of those that hear them and that the material world of the poems aligns with that of 8th century Greece. The descriptions given above the of the world created by archaeology and the world created in the poem are offered as the basis on which the reader can begin to assess the [debates]. In this final section I offer a balance sheet and ask what is at stake in this argument for the reading of the poems.

Much in the Iliad and Odyssey would certainly have been more or less familiar to an inhabitant of the Greek world of the late 8th century. Burning the dead and burying their bones in individual graves was familiar, if not universal, practice in contrast to the group inhumations [burials] of the late Bronze AGe. Members of the elite had long marked themselves out for their military contributions. Heavy bronze armour was certainly worn by some before the end of the 8th century, and 8th century painted pottery regularly shows warriors with two spears, suggesting that at least one was thrown.

Mycenean contacts with Italy and the eastern Mediterranean were extensive, and no doubt resulted in travellers' tales worthy of Odysseus, but it was only from circa 1000 onwards that Phoenicians will have been encountered [so that is anachronistic (the wrong stuff at the time)] whether as visitors to Greek waters or in other parts of the Mediterranean. Exotic goods, above all vessels and jewellery in precious metals, were a much more important means of asserting and displaying social distinction within early Iron Age communities than earlier, and some good archaeological cases can be made for the pedigree of an object contributing to its value in 8th century Greece ( not the bronze age).

If religious cult activity was long the major factor in bringing a community together, the devotion of high levels of communal expenditure to cult and cult buildings not closely associated with a ruling groups is [also] peculiar [happening in] to the 8th century.

But much in the world of epic would have brought an 8th century audience up short. The palaces, the silver bath tubs, the chariots of war, the exotic armour, the treatment of iron as a precious metal, the existence of bride-price as well as dowry, the domination of the labour force by slaves: all of these will have served to distance the world described in the poems from that experienced by an 8th or early 7th century audience. And almost all of these find close correlates in the late Bronze Age archaeological record.

Anachronism [placing stuff in the wrong time] is a familiar literary technique, and should cause no surprise. Defamiliarisation ensures audience attention. [if its different to what they have going on at the mo' then they will listen 'cost of its novelty]The epic tradition inevitably provided a rich source of material whose status had been changed by the passage of time, but not always enough. Slaughtering animals at human funerals was familiar, slaughtering enemy prisoners was not. AS with the institution of bride-price...so with silver bath tubs, epic heroes inhabit a world that is distinct in both material [stuff] and actions. Chariots, tower shields, and the exchange of speeches and of armour in the midst of battle are all ways in which the field of war is made a field in which the individual is tested and status and value negotiated. In real-life battles survival and victory are what count. But readers of epic have far less investment in the result: for them war is good for revealing personal and social values. What the audience hears needs to be broadly credible [believable], but it does not need to mimic all the details.

If allusions [references to] objects and practices both familiar and unfamiliar to [Homer's] audience are the poet's means, what is the end? What ensures the success and survival of the poems is that the issues which they raise engage the audience. Much is at issue [there is a lot of stuff happening] in the Iliad and the Odyssey on moral and theological [religious] fronts, but the core issues are political. The diffusion of authority which Linear B tablets suggest for the late Bronze Age palaces makes it possible that poetic exploration of how authority was established, sustained and handed on would have been appropriate there. The basis of political authority was certainly an issue in the Greek world of the late 8th and early 7th centuries: the rapid changes seen in the archeological record indicate that old ways of asserting status and authority (e.g. by what one deposited in tombs) were challenged, and new ways (making dedications in sanctuaries and at old tombs) both devised and themselves countered [because] whole communities [were reshaping] their sacred landscape [how they did religious stuff] and increased the emphasis on temple and cult statue. Painted pottery shows artists developing figurative decoration first to suggest general storylines and then to suggest particular mythical stories. So the tradition of oral ...epic poetry was developed to produce not only the Iliad and the Odyssey but Theogony and Works and Days, poems which also display a strong interest in authority and succession [who's going to follow as leader] themes.

Bronze Age as well as early Iron Age archaeology can help us understand the resources out of which Homer's society is created. But the Homeric poems show an awareness of particular material circumstances not found before the alter 8th or early 7th centuries: writing narrative art in general and Gorgon shield devices in particular, settlement overseas and knowledge of a world that extends from Phoenicia, Egypt and the Black Sea to the east to Sicily in the west, temples and cult statues. They also show a concern with social and political circumstances peculiarly apposite [Strikingly appropriate and relevant] for 8th and 7th century Greeks as they began to assert community identities and devise [make makeup] in part in connection with settlement abroad, rules for communal living. Knowledge of the past requires the possibility of social memory, and that seems ensured by the demonstrable epic tradition. Knowledge of the future would be far harder to account for, and for that reason it makes sense to ascribe the creation of the Iliad and Odyssey, in the form in which they have come down to us, to somewhere around, or shortly after 700 BC.










.