The World of Odysseus MOBI × The World Kindle -

The World of Odysseus[Epub] ➞ The World of Odysseus By Moses I. Finley – Varanus.us Moses Finley was born in New York, but went to England in after being questioned by the HUAC and then investigated by the McCarran Subcommittee for his alleged Communist affiliations Finley became Moses Finley was born in New York, but went to England inafter being questioned by the HUAC and then investigated by the McCarran Subcommittee for his alleged Communist affiliations Finley became a British subject and, in , became Sir Moses FinleyFinley s examinations of the ancient world were shaped in part by his engagement with the ideas of the Frankfurt School, the sociological work of The World Kindle - Emile Durkheim, and the gift exchange theory of Marcel MaussThis is one of Finley s best known texts, published by The Folio Society in an attractive edition, elegantly set in type, and with numerous color platesThe introduction is by the eminent classicist Simon Hornblower, a Fellow of All Souls, and an erstwhile student of Finley s at Cambridge.

    10 thoughts on “The World of Odysseus MOBI × The World Kindle -


  1. says:

    Revisiting the Odyssey, after not having touched Homer for a few years, I also tumbled upon this book thanks to Steve s review I have therefore welcomed this read as an approach to Homer s epic world.Because that is precisely what Finley says, that Homer s was an Epic World Steve has already given the background to Finley and his times and circumstances The fact that this book is published by NYRB is already a sign that it holds a special place to that of any other scholarly works on Homer Revisiting the Odyssey, after not having touched Homer for a few years, I also tumbled upon this book thanks to Steve s review I have therefore welcomed this read as an approach to Homer s epic world.Because that is precisely what Finley says, that Homer s was an Epic World Steve has already given the background to Finley and his times and circumstances The fact that this book is published by NYRB is already a sign that it holds a special place to that of any other scholarly works on Homer I imagine that it has earned its slot with this publishing house by both Finley s political leanings and what was a strikingly original proposition at the time of publication, 1954 Finley adamantly defended that Homer s two poems are not history They are fiction Schliemann s pretentions were just so, and the eventual full understanding of the Linear B Tablets completely changed our view of ancient times in the Aegean territories.In my warming up to the Odyssey it has helped me to read in Finley that Homer s time probably was around 750 BC period that he was not writing about the lost Mycenaean period 13 12C BC and that neither was he writing about his own times Finley proposes the setting of the poems to the period before Homer 10 9C BC , the so called Dark Ages of the Greek classical world.And as dark times were dark, the most Finley dares to draw from the epics is a series of observations on the social institutions and social values that are represented Finley s analysis therefore is not literary, and as mentioned, neither is he providing an archaeological report even if he uses archaeological knowledge His view is that of an anthropologist.Many of Finley s observations are fascinating I particularly liked his attention paid to the way oral traditions function and how Bards construct their poems He mentions how in the 1930s an illiterate Serbian Bard had been asked to produce a rhymed poem that he completely composed it anew as he went along, taking several days to narrate the full story From this he draws some rules that can be applied to Homer s composition.The BardBut I also found, as I often do with anthropologists, that some of Finley s findings are just too obvious For example, he develops amply the important practice of gift giving, and deduces that reciprocity, in one way or other, was expected really And in this I agree with Yann s opinion of this book Once Finley has discarded the poems as documents, and chosen not to analyze them from a literary point of view, what can he then say that any attentive reader and observer of human nature, in general, would not have also noticed Gift givingThis edition comes with two important Appendixes, both provided by Finley almost twenty years after his main essay They provide interesting reading In the first he revisits his main theories, and in the latter he censures directly Schliemann s claims These have now been completely discarded and I recommend the amusing The Fall of Troy Reading The Oxford History of the Classical World, in his essay on Homer, Oliver Taplin comments on Finley s book He says Finley s case is that Homer is consistent and anthropologically plausible in such matters as Agamemnon s constitutional position, the inheritance customs on Ithaca, the status of wives and monogamy, the legal and social treatment of murderers, to give four examples I would maintain that in all four cases the poems are in fact inconsistent, treating the issue differently in different contexts. and from there proceeds to expand a biton the specifics of those four cases


  2. says:

    The Blinding of PolyphemusJust before he ran afoul of the Communist witch hunt in 1954, was fired from Rutgers and ended up a knighted Master of a college at Cambridge University, Moses I Finley 1912 1986 published this little gem Since he wrote this for a non academic audience it was first published by Viking Press , he does not argue, cite or support at length he just describes the world of Odysseus in the light of archaeological, philological and other data known up to 1954, relying h The Blinding of PolyphemusJust before he ran afoul of the Communist witch hunt in 1954, was fired from Rutgers and ended up a knighted Master of a college at Cambridge University, Moses I Finley 1912 1986 published this little gem Since he wrote this for a non academic audience it was first published by Viking Press , he does not argue, cite or support at length he just describes the world of Odysseus in the light of archaeological, philological and other data known up to 1954, relying heavily on a close reading of the Odyssey.I emphasize that Finley discusses the Odyssey not as a literary text so much as a historical text, and not as a history of some Trojan War this notion, and the notion that Schliemann s Troy was the Troy of the Iliad, he deflates quickly but as a social history of a particular moment on the peninsula we now call Greece The first historical task is to determine the time.Finley locates the actual time as opposed to the represented time of Odysseus world not where I had naively accepted it to be the received notion from such sources as Herodotus set the Homeric poems in Mycenaean times 12th 14th century BCE According to Finley, the Odyssey was written in the 7th century BCE, a little less than a century after the Iliad was written, and the world it describes is not really the relatively distant past as the text pretends, but is primarily that of the 9th and 10th centuries BCE with anachronistic admixtures from both before and after that time.After explaining the craft of the bards from whose oral tradition the Homeric poets selected and sewed together various pieces, Finley briefly points out the elements of the Homeric text s which stem from the standard tools of this craft But he also points out that it is the art of the selection and the sewing together of the disparate pieces which set the Iliad and the Odyssey apart from the other epic poems of the time And here I mean not the work of Hesiod, but of five other lengthy epics written down around the same time which survived for at least fivecenturies they were in Alexandria s fabled library but later disappeared except for remnants in anthologies or quotations appearing in other books.Finley attributes the survival of the Iliad and the Odyssey precisely to their quality He reminds us that as the reed paper and skins on which the texts were written decayed with time, it was necessary for someone to care enough about the texts to re write them by hand In hoards of Greek manuscripts found preserved in the Egyptian desert a large percentage of the incomplete due to imperfect preservation texts were copies of the Iliad and the Odyssey. Many centuries after Homer s time, if one collected ancient Greek texts one was sure to want a copy of those two but rarely the other five.What about the texts we actually have According to Finley, the oldest complete texts of the Odyssey we possess date to the 10th century CE In what relation do they stand to the 7th century BCE text As mentioned, many fragments of Homer have been found in Egyptian hoards, and the corresponding passages in the monastery texts coincide remarkably well with these old fragments, some of which date back to the 3rd century BCE OK, that leaves a gap of some 400 years It appears that internal philological evidence strongly suggests that the text in our possession was established in Athens between 560 and 527 BCE But Finley assures us that because all Greeks knew Homer s stories well, this Athenian text could not have differed markedly from the original s and still survived So we have some reason to believe that the text that has come down to us closely corresponds to Homer s, and therefore is reporting on customs, social structures, values, religious beliefs, etc as would a man of the 7th century BCE who is trying to present a somewhat earlier world with convincing detail but incomplete knowledge, with the knowledge of tradition He must, therefore, fill the many gaps with details from his own world.So on this basis Finley reads from the Odyssey these customs, etc and gives us a surprisingly detailed and complete view of the warrior society which was pre Archaic Greece Interesting indeed are the many differences and similarities with the earlier Mycenaean age and the later Classical age.For example, in this time of Odysseus the basic social and economic unit is the oikosthis consists of a father, his wife, all of their sons and their spouses and children, if any, all of their unmarried daughters, their slaves and free retainers The sons did not establish independent households until their father s death The oikos acted as a unit with the father acting as basileus the same term used for kings All of the goods of the oikos were kept and distributed centrally The larger social structures were informal and loose The local oikoi collaborated when necessary in an agora which meant meeting meeting place then, not marketplace as it did later there were no marketplaces in Odysseus time and merchants were despised led by the noblemen, a strictly hereditary class The king was the first among equals in this local class kings there were aplenty in Greek speaking lands at this time and was often enough replaced by force That the king s son would become king at his father s death was by no means assured Justice was either obtained by the offended oikos through its own action or not at all.This loose social structure and the near total lack of value set in the notion of community, as opposed to honor, renown, and respect of the individual, contrasts mightily both with the Mycenaean palace states and the later classical polis and is just one example of many unique aspects of Dark Age Greece that Finley finds through a close reading of the Homeric texts I know that I will have to re read the Homeric poems with this new perspective, for when I first read them long ago I read them as great stories, well told, and not as expressions of the values of a society which was, let s face it, quite alien to the globalized mass mediatized mercantile society we now live in, where the highest values are wealth, celebrity, comfort and safety One of the few supporting points Finley does mention is that prior to the mysterious Catastrophe that wiped out much of eastern Mediterranean culture during the 12th century BCE, warfare in the region was carried out by vast arrays of chariots with infantry used only as screens In the Iliad the chariots are used only to transport the heroes to the battlefield, where they dismounted and fought on foot A complete anachronism if the battle is set in Asia Minor before 1200 BCE Unwritten traditions change over time under various social pressures, which is probably the mechanism behind Finley s observation that the actual time of the Homeric poems is only a century or two preceding their inscription onto paper Of course, this is the motive behind the actions of the 108 suitors of Odysseus wife, Penelope although Finley is uncertain why the agora did not simply choose a replacement for Odysseus, the intent of each of the suitors is to assure he will be chosen the next King of Ithaca by having the advantage of wedding the former Queen Rating


  3. says:

    In a measure, these virtues, these values and capacities, were shared by many men of the period, for otherwise there could have been no distinct age of heroes between the bronze and the iron Particularly in the Odyssey the word hero is a class term for the whole aristocracy, and at times it even seems to embrace all the free men.Finley provides dazzling yet largely plain spoken erudition The expat is also largely certain Strange behavior, that, for a historian, even a Marxist one Finley did In a measure, these virtues, these values and capacities, were shared by many men of the period, for otherwise there could have been no distinct age of heroes between the bronze and the iron Particularly in the Odyssey the word hero is a class term for the whole aristocracy, and at times it even seems to embrace all the free men.Finley provides dazzling yet largely plain spoken erudition The expat is also largely certain Strange behavior, that, for a historian, even a Marxist one Finley didn t pen the book on a tendency or a cantankerous But or If The world view of the Iliad and The Odyssey ae explored and situated largely in contrast with the evidence of archeology The concept of Oikos or the fortified family unit and the practice of gift giving serve as templates for exploring both narratives There is a lament at the absence of the common born Oh and there s a rancor with the anachronistic.I was fascinated throughout


  4. says:

    Ah, for the golden age of academic writing Is it beautiful No But it is clear, concise and argumentative No pointing out a problem stuff here Finley just gives you the answers as he sees them You ll be in no doubt as to what he thinks at any stage in your reading For instance, the historian of ideas and values has noSatanic seducer to guard against than the man on the Clapham omnibus Love it But this isn t popular history by any means, for good and bad There are no catchy ane Ah, for the golden age of academic writing Is it beautiful No But it is clear, concise and argumentative No pointing out a problem stuff here Finley just gives you the answers as he sees them You ll be in no doubt as to what he thinks at any stage in your reading For instance, the historian of ideas and values has noSatanic seducer to guard against than the man on the Clapham omnibus Love it But this isn t popular history by any means, for good and bad There are no catchy anecdotes, no sex and murder stories It s just a solid suggestion of what a world looked like, in this case, the Dark Ages in the eastern Mediterranean, after the Mycenaeans and before the time the Homeric poems were coming together Basically, not very attractive As a side note, I should say that I was biased in favor of liking this book after I found out some of Finley s life story According to wikipedia He taught at Columbia University and City College of New York, where he was influenced by members of the Frankfurt School who were working in exile in America In 1952, during the Red Scare, Finley was fired from his teaching job at Rutgers University in 1954, he was summoned by the United States Senate Internal Security Subcommittee and asked whether he had ever been a member of the Communist Party USA He invoked the Fifth Amendment and refused to answer He was fired at the end of the year and could never work in the U.S again A political martyr who ended up becoming a British citizen and getting knighted, after hanging out with the Frankfurters in New York That s my kind of man


  5. says:

    A thorough look into the sociological implications of The Iliad and The Odyssey Finley discounts the possibility of a real Trojan War on the same grand scale as told by Homer, but he finds value in what the famous orator has to tell us about the Greek hero society of that period I admire Finley s direct approach to the controversial topics, but the material is a little dry A good book, but best suited for passionate fans of Homer.


  6. says:

    Appendix II, with its apoplectic rant against Schliemann s Troy and the false leads provided by the archaeological record in general, is alone worth the price of the book.


  7. says:

    Finley s book must count among the very small set of superb introductions to anything Like the very few such superlative overviews introductions, Finley starts with square one, as in, this is the very first thing you need to understand this is the second thing and because you understand thing one and thing two, I can tell you about things three and four, which derive from thing one and thing two in the ways I shall describe, and so on until he delineates all the domains of the field Finley s book must count among the very small set of superb introductions to anything Like the very few such superlative overviews introductions, Finley starts with square one, as in, this is the very first thing you need to understand this is the second thing and because you understand thing one and thing two, I can tell you about things three and four, which derive from thing one and thing two in the ways I shall describe, and so on until he delineates all the domains of the field all the dimensions of the question at hand I only wish a similar book or article existed in the domain of signal processing which remains a black art unnecessarily, I think, beacuse there isn t such a book.Then there is the problem of level of detail Finley controls his discussions masterfully just enough detail to achieve his purpose, i.e to define each domain in the world of Odysseus, heoric culture, that is, rather than the whole of ancient society, economy and culture, so that one has it firmly in mind and nonot one jot or tittle.And this is just the sort of book that should go has gone through many editions to reflect accretions accumulation of knowledge and the author s assessment of them Obviously, any field of inquiry changes or should change unless it s not worth the bother Counted cross stitch springs to mind for some reason And so anyone who pretends to mastery of a field must absorb new detail and extract its meaning and significance for the questions at hand I read one of the later editions of Finley s book at least twenty years younger than the first, and it was clear that Finley had read most of the relevant literature that had appeared since and had grappled with it or so his bibliographical essay suggests, modifying his original delineations and conclusions Or so it appears.Such persons are rare indeed, and even fewer write with the clarity of purpose and directness simplicity of style as Finley possessed and employed I suppose a reader of Homer s poems could ignore this book, but I can t imagine why he she would A non sequitor follows It s interesting Many of Finley s comments apply with certain qualifications to the world of the American South during the late antebellum period, as primitive and archaic as it was at that time and remains in certain of its salient attributes By the way, I m descended directly from a shareholder in the Virginia Company of London, Henry Dawkes, whose name appears in the second charter, signed by James I in 1606, who came to Jamestown in 1609 1610 at the end of the starving time there and one of whose sons survived the Jamestown massacre of 1622 So I yield to no one on the point of Southern Anglo American heritage I m no bigot I just know those folks better than most Bertram Wyatt Brown s Southern Honor covers hundreds of pages with words devoted to the similarities So one need not be a student of ancient Greece Mediterranean world in order to understand and benefit from Finley s discussion of heroic culture and the world of Odysseus In fact, it illuminates other worlds


  8. says:

    Published almost half a century ago, M I Finley s The World of Odysseus is perhaps one of the most reliable books about what we can learn from Homer s Iliad and Odyssey As much as we love to find that great literature and history can be made to mesh, what we do not about Homer s world greatly exceeds what we do know For instance, we are not sure where Troy is located, whether there was a historical Trojan War, whether Achaians whether under Agamemnon or some other leader ever invaded Troy, Published almost half a century ago, M I Finley s The World of Odysseus is perhaps one of the most reliable books about what we can learn from Homer s Iliad and Odyssey As much as we love to find that great literature and history can be made to mesh, what we do not about Homer s world greatly exceeds what we do know For instance, we are not sure where Troy is located, whether there was a historical Trojan War, whether Achaians whether under Agamemnon or some other leader ever invaded Troy, when the putative Trojan War took place, where the locations in Odysseus s ten year wanderings are to be found on a map, whether Odysseus actually ruled from Ithaca, whether there was a single poet who wrote both Greek epics, where he they came from, whether he they were really blind or even male, and so on Finley derides the whole notion of Homer as war correspondent, namely, as a reliable guide to the who, what, why, when, and where of historical fact What Finley does provide is an inventory of what life in the time of Odysseus was liked based on internal evidence from the epics As such, it is eminently readable and eye opening, especially to one who, like myself, just finished re reading Homer s Odyssey


  9. says:

    A reread, I realized Though read many years ago, I still found this to be an interesting book and a fine companion to a reading of the Iliad Finley s subject is the revelation of the real Greece which existed behind Homer s 2 heroic poems His research and a lifetime of Homer studies allowed him to write material explaining Greek morals and values, the role of community and how kinship and even individual households fit into it, labor and wealth, leadership, and Homer s own relationship with a A reread, I realized Though read many years ago, I still found this to be an interesting book and a fine companion to a reading of the Iliad Finley s subject is the revelation of the real Greece which existed behind Homer s 2 heroic poems His research and a lifetime of Homer studies allowed him to write material explaining Greek morals and values, the role of community and how kinship and even individual households fit into it, labor and wealth, leadership, and Homer s own relationship with and mastery of the bardic tradition he practiced There are 3 appendices, the most useful being an appraisal of the famous excavations of Heinrich Schliemann at Hissarlik along the Aegean coast of Turkey which he declared were the remains of Troy This is a classical work of scholarship which provides complementary background to a reading of the Iliad and Odyssey I enjoyed reading it again


  10. says:

    Quite frankly, I don t know why anyone would see Homer as a good study of what was, but Finley s quasi rebuttal is packed full of data and insight.

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