Kingship in the Mycenaean World and its reflections in the Oral Tradition

Kingship in the Mycenaean World and its reflections in the Oral Tradition

Ione Mylonas Shear
Volume: 13
Copyright Date: 2004
Published by: INSTAP Academic Press
Pages: 120
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt3fgvs0
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  • Book Info
    Kingship in the Mycenaean World and its reflections in the Oral Tradition
    Book Description:

    During the last few decades, there has been great interest in the problems of defining the extent and nature of kingship in the Mycenaean world. Questions concerning the degree of economic and religious power held by the king have been given special emphasis. This book surveys the conclusions drawn by individual scholars studying the Linear B tablets, contrasts their theories with our knowledge of the Mycenaean kingdoms as derived from the archaeological record, and finally compares this evidence with possible reflections in the oral tradition, specifically in the Iliad and Odyssey . This approach leads to the suggestion that the king in the Mycenaean period had only limited power over the society and its economy. Although the king appears to have controlled a large segment of the economy, it is argued here that other individuals and family groups within the kingdom also had a certain degree of economic independence.

    eISBN: 978-1-62303-081-0
    Subjects: Archaeology, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Figures
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-4)

    During the last few decades, there has been great interest in the problems of defining the extent and nature of kingship in the Mycenaean world. Questions concerning the degree of economic and religious power held by the king have been given special emphasis. The arguments have clustered around three separate bodies of evidence, often with little or no reference to each other.

    The archaeological evidence was the first to be uncovered and it has been repeatedly discussed during the past century.¹ Questions concerning the type of government go back to the earliest days of excavations by Heinrich Schliemann at Mycenae...

  6. I The Archaeological Evidence
    (pp. 5-38)

    The first indication of a group of people who were richer and presumably more powerful than their contemporaries came from the two grave circles at Mycenae (Figs. 1, 2), and the evidence for the development of kingship in the Mycenaean period is most clearly illustrated on that site.²¹ Other grave circles have been found elsewhere on the Greek mainland, and these help to support the conclusions drawn from the two circles at Mycenae.²² These grave circles span the closing years of the Middle Helladic and the beginning of the Late Helladic periods, and it is at that time that evidence...

  7. II The Evidence of the Linear B Tablets
    (pp. 39-64)

    One of the most important conclusions to be drawn from the decipherment of the Linear B tablets is that they were written in an early form of the Greek language. This language is different from that used for the Linear A tablets from Crete. Although this has been known for over a half century, the archaeological, linguistic, and historical significance of this linguistic continuity has been frequently neglected. Scholars who had long maintained that the Minoans and Mycenaeans were the same people could no longer argue that the two cultures were identical. The significance of two different ethnic groups at...

  8. III The Ugarit Parallel
    (pp. 65-68)

    The city of Ugarit was located on a tell, Ras Shamra, in Syria slightly inland from the sea.523 At the beginning of the Middle Bronze Age, a new wave of people, speaking a western dialect of the Semitic language, burned the earlier city and took over the site. These people occupied the site until the end of the Late Bronze Age when the city was destroyed by the Sea Peoples. At the time of its final destruction, Ugarit had become a populous city covering an area of roughly six hundred meters by six hundred meters, surrounded by fortification walls. Near...

  9. IV The Evidence of the Oral Tradition
    (pp. 69-80)

    The oral tradition of ancient Greece as reflected in the vase paintings, the decorative sculpture on temples, and the literature of the historical period was rich in tales of heroic action that served as “mythological exempla” for later generations. The existence of some sort of oral tradition in the prehistoric period has been made clear by the recent work of philologists who have demonstrated that some of the verses in the Iliad and Odyssey go back to Mycenaean prototypes.⁵⁴⁰ This evidence is supported by the wall painting from Pylos that portrays a bard singing and holding a lyre541 and a...

  10. V The End of the Tradition
    (pp. 81-96)

    Scholars who do not accept an early date for the origin of the Iliad and Odyssey argue that even though the portrayal of kingship reflected in the oral tradition forms a coherent picture, it does not necessarily depict the Mycenaean period. In recent years, studies of kingship in the Greek world often start with the premise that the world of the Iliad and the Odyssey represents either the Dark Age or the eighth century.628 Consequently, the portrayal of kingship in these epics is also thought to illustrate one of these periods. This assumption fails to explain when, why, and how...

  11. VI Summary
    (pp. 97-104)

    A comparison of the archaeological remains, the evidence of the Linear B tablets, and references to kings in the Iliad and Odyssey reveals many similarities. The earliest traces of a ruling elite in the archaeological record come from the grave circles that began at the end of the Middle Helladic period. At Mycenae, this group originally consisted of a larger, more extended family that was buried together in Grave Circle B. The family group became more restricted in Grave Circle A, where the burials were fewer in number. With the construction of the tholoi at Mycenae, this group appears to...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 105-172)
  13. Bibliography (excluding ancient citations)
    (pp. 173-214)
  14. Index of Ancient Authors
    (pp. 215-216)
  15. Index of References to the Iliad
    (pp. 217-220)
  16. Index of References to the Odyssey
    (pp. 221-224)
  17. Index
    (pp. 225-234)
  18. Figures
    (pp. None)