Ancient Greece: From the Mycenaean Palaces to the Age of Homer

By Sigrid Deger-Jalkotzy; Irene S. Lemos | Go to book overview

29

THE WORLD OF TELEMACHUS: WESTERN
GREECE 1200–700 BC

Birgitta Eder

In search of information on his father's fate, Telemachus travels from Ithaca to Nestor in Pylos and Menelaos in Laconia. It is to this world of western Greece, which offers the background to the so-called Telemachfa in books 4 and 5 of the Odyssey, that I wish to invite the reader to follow me on an archaeological trip.1A survey of both old and more recent archaeological discoveries may allow us to reach a better understanding of social hierarchies in western Greece in the period between the Mycenaean palaces and the age of Homer.


LH IIIC MESSENIA

In order to look for the successors of the last Mycenaean wanax in the archaeological record of western Greece, the place to begin is the only Mycenaean palace discovered so far in this area. At the palace of Pylos, Linear B tablets document the bureaucratic aspects of power and control in LBA Messenia. These Linear B texts also supply evidence for banquets (Killen 1994). The throne room of the palace was possibly the setting of such banquets and festivities connected with ritual drinking. Hundreds of kylikes found in the stores neighbouring the throne room may have formed something like the actual supply of drinking vessels. An illustration of such a ceremony decorates one wall in the throne room, showing the famous lyre player as well as a group of at least two pairs of seated men. (Saflund 1980; McCallum 1987: 68–141; Wright 1995: 301–3; Hägg 1996: 607; Shelmerdine 1999a: 20f.). One has to add, though, that the kylikes they are holding in their hands are mostly reconstructed. However, we shall see that ritual

I wish to thank the organisers for their invitation to participate in this splendid and stimulating
conference. I am very grateful to Saro Wallace for correcting the English of my manuscript.
Florian Ruppenstein generously supplied his ideas about Cypriot-style bottles from his unpub-
lished Ph.D. dissertation, and I am also very grateful to Reinhard Jung, who read and com-
mented on an earlier version of the manuscript. I take the opportunity to thank them both for
many enjoyable discussions of various aspects of the Greek LBA and EIA.

1 Telemachus, son of Odysseus, may also be taken to represent the next generation of scholars,
who try to find and define their own ways on the long and winding roads leading from Mycenae
to Homer. Cf. Shelmerdine 1996.

-549-

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