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The World of Odysseus (New York Review Books Classics) [Paperback]

Moses I. Finley , M. I. Finley , Bernard Knox
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Aug 2002 New York Review Books Classics
The World of Odysseus is a concise and penetrating account of the society that gave birth to the Iliad and the Odyssey--a book that provides a vivid picture of the Greek Dark Ages, its men and women, works and days, morals and values. Long celebrated as a pathbreaking achievement in the social history of the ancient world, M.I. Finley's brilliant study remains, as classicist Bernard Knox notes in his introduction to this new edition, "as indispensable to the professional as it is accessible to the general reader"--a fundamental companion for students of Homer and Homeric Greece.

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The World of Odysseus (New York Review Books Classics) + Greek Tragedy (Classical World Series) + The Cambridge History of Classical Literature: Volume 1, Greek Literature, Part 2, Greek Drama: Greek Literature v. 1
Price For All Three: 45.40

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Product details

  • Paperback: 232 pages
  • Publisher: New York Review of Books (Aug 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590170172
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590170175
  • Product Dimensions: 20.3 x 12.8 x 1.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 183,354 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The World of Homer 30 May 2014
By Charles Vasey TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a very interesting attempt by a distinguished historian to imagine the era of Homer by looking at how he, in turn, imagined the Heroic Age to have been: much as the Arthurian legend tells us more about the Middle Ages or Victorian England than Romano-British cavalry armies. As such it is little to do with the world of wily Odysseus but rather that of Homer's listeners or readers, so if you were hoping for a chat about Linear B and the Trojan War you will be sadly disillusioned. However, as a discussion of the ethos of warrior societies, of how legends grow and how heroes like to be seen (as against how they are) I doubt this account can be bettered
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Recommended 6 Mar 2004
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Entertaining account of the social milieu of the Homeric poems. After reading the poems themselves, the perfect gentle introduction to the oft-impenetrable world of moden scholarship. Helps restore and explain the "otherness" of the Homeric world, the features that strike us as odd and even funny are well explained.
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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A true work of scholarly investigation 22 Nov 2001
Format:Paperback
This book is a seminal work in the discussion of the historical world that is depicted by the Homeric epics, providing not only an informative text, but also exstensive footnotes and bibliographies.
I found M. I. Finley's work to be an essential starting point for my research on this subject, and this distinguished scholars experiance opens up many lines of enquiry for the modern student.
Well worth reading.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Unreliable Evidence 12 Sep 2013
Format:Paperback
I read an earlier edition (with Finley as sole author) many years ago, and knowing nothing whatever of the background from other sources found it a convincing debunking of any claims of Homer to historical accuracy, beyond a distorted folk memory of the Greek dark ages. Since then I have come across other evidence that puts the book in a rather different light.

The emotional tone of his book is hostile towards any suggestion that the Homeric poems have any reliable link with real bronze age events, putting their inspiration firmly in the dark ages that followed the collapse of the Mycenaean (and other) civilizations around 1100 BCE. But in making his case, Finley is, to put it charitably, selective with the evidence that he presents. He claims for example that the Mycenaean centres were no larger than perhaps a few hundred people in each, making the Homeric figure of 60,000 Greeks on the expedition to Troy pure fantasy.

But Chadwick's work on the Linear B tablets makes very clear (and Finley must have known this) that the centres must have been much larger than this. Chadwick estimated the population of Pylos alone as "at least 50,000", a figure based on a detailed analysis of the extensive archives found at the burned palace at Epano Englianos. These archives allow details of the industrial and agriculturural activity of Pylos to be reconstructed, though with obvious gaps. As I recall there were no fewer than 400 bronze-smiths listed: this in population Finley would have us believe numbered at most 1000 or so! It seems probable that the other centres (Mycenae, Tiryns etc) were of similar size, though since we don't have the benefit of the accidental incineration of so many Linear B tables as at Pylos (or at least, they haven't been found yet) we cannot know with certainty.
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