Wednesday, March 27, 2013

TFBT: Traveling Heroes by Robin Lane Fox

I skipped the first two hundred pages of this book and then reluctantly sat it down seventy-five pages later.  The first two hundred pages of Fox’s book consist of a thorough, dense, complete history of the ancient world from the sinking of Atlantis to the conquests of Alexander the Great.  (Yeah, Atlantis happen.  Those less romanticly inclined refer to the event as the “eruption of Thera”.)  I  praise Fox for an excellent account of the Ancient Greeks and the lands they visited and colonized.  (The retelling obsessively returns to the long island of Euboaea, Northeast of Athens.)   

Since my area of research is Greek mythology and since I felt comfortable with my knowledge of the history, geography and cultures involved, I started reading at Chapter 12.  
There’s lots of good stuff here.  Fox defines myth rather nicely; “…’myth’, our word for tales about named individuals, distncit from ‘folk tales’. And takes an contemproary approach to his study of Homer, “There are lots of  ‘tales with in a tale’, shorter tales of travel which Homer causes his heroes to tell, particularly in the Odyssey.  They lie off the main lines of the plot which he inherited…” 

Fox follows the legends of Heracles,Io, Daedalus, Perseus and Bellephron around the Mediteranean and best summarizes the approach to these studies with; “…the travels of Mopsus the hero are not evidence for a ‘migrant charismatic’ who was bringing widom fro the Near East to the Greek world.  Theuy ar evidence…for the flexibiilyt of of Greeks and their myths as they explained a newly found Asian kindom, responded to civi rivilaries and forged bonds of kinship between un related peoples” 

Classicists are obssesed wit the songs of Homer.  Many of the tales that and his almost comtemporary poet Hesiod tell, are oddly familiar to tales of gods in the Near East.  Here’s Fox’s take on that; “…Hittite and Canaanite stories date back at least to 1200 BC…If Greeks ever picked up these tales…They had to learn them  from conversations….By a remarkable accident of survival, we have evidence for the formal telling of one group of stories in a specific place.  It survives in fragmentary Hittite texts which date back  the late theirteenth century BC …they are list of cult-offereings in honor of Mount Hazzi…Among the honours were the ‘singing of the song of kingship’…’”  Which Fox goes on to equate with Zeus’ overthrow of Cronus and the Middle Eastern tales of the storm god overthrowing the elder gods.   

Sadly at this point I closed the book.  I just started an on-line course at Harvard from edX; The Ancient Greek Hero and must spend my reading time on my studies.  But, I hope you will find time   for “Traveling Heroes” 




No comments:

Post a Comment