THE MANOR HOUSE
HOMERIC society was an aristocratic society. If our dates are correct, Homeric poetry saw the light and developed in the historical environment which took shape after the decline and fall of most of the traditional monarchies. These monarchies were the self-styled heirs of the heroic age and some of them, notably in Asia, claimed descent from the Achaean heroes, Agamemnon, Menelaus and Nestor; while others, as successors of the Dorian invasion, claimed to descend from Heracles. By the middle of the eighth century they had all foundered.
The aristocracy which seized power at this moment in most of the Greek cities was called the kingly class and consisted of the old families whose influence and wealth had been for long principally based on their possession of vast landed estates; in addition to their share of the public receipts as city magistrates and to the exploitation of certain prosperous sanctuaries. After taking over the reins of government from the ancient dynasties, the aristocracy continued to expand its activities, adding to the prestige of noble birth that of an aristocracy of wealth.
In the first place it derived its wealth from the success of its industrial undertakings. The older classes of artisans were left to pursue their traditional employments, the potters continuing to make their earthen vases, and the smelters the household utensils, tripods and copper and iron receptacles; and so also the ironforgers continued to produce agricultural tools and some of the swords; while the carpenters went on making furniture and wooden frames. The aristocracy, leaving these artisans to their several trades, set up the great industries for mass production, particularly of weapons of war but also of many smaller manufactured articles, products of the vast foundries that were built to