W e have now to consider what we can say of poetry during the early development between say 1100 and 900 B.C., when the migrations were occurring with all the misery and cruelty so brilliantly portrayed by Gilbert Murray in the Rise 0f the Greek Epic,1 when the aristocrats were becoming self-conscious, when a League of Ionian cities was forming round the altar on Mykale, but before the League was complete, before the political change had fully developed, before enough prosperity had returned or enough self-confidence to honour the Mycenaean heroes with hero cults and games and to name kings after Hektor, Agamemnon, or Aeneas. Memory of stories connected with the gods probably survived where cult places were continuously tended. The second kind of Mycenaean poetry, the songs sung in honour of dead kings at their anniversaries, may have survived at Athens, where Homer knows of the cult of Erechtheus. Whether Iolkos will prove to be another such centre, where above all Argonaut poetry would be preserved, is still uncertain. The kind of Mycenaean poetry that could travel was the third kind, the poetry improvised for special occasions by warrior singers and court singers. The Ionian migration was a mixed migration and each element would bring its own poetry about its own heroes, but this kind of Mycenaean poetry was international in the sense that it had to be intelligible to visitors from other centres and it had to include the deeds of heroes in other centres. Because the new cities were mixed, the great international undertakings of the Mycenaeans are likely to have been particularly popular with audiences. But in these Ionian settlements one strain was dominant, the Pylian-Attic. The majority of the settlements started from Attica; the new inspiration



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From Mycenae to Homer


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