Greece before Homer: Ancient Chronology and Mythology

Greece before Homer: Ancient Chronology and Mythology

Greece before Homer: Ancient Chronology and Mythology

Greece before Homer: Ancient Chronology and Mythology

Excerpt

In writing this introduction to the archaeological and literary records of prehistoric Greece, I have had in mind readers who may not be prepared for critical consideration of these matters as presented in books which quote ancient authors in their original languages and refer to international academic publications. I have therefore omitted footnotes and have cited the Greek authorities in translation.

The purpose of the book is to explore the processes by which prehistoric narratives were adopted in historical Greek literature and elaborated with realistic details of genealogy and chronology. The archaeological documents are authentic records of the times that they represent, but they do not explain themselves. The literary statements are explicit, but unauthentic in the sense that they were not contemporary with the events that they describe. Such testimonies cannot legitimately be used to explain archaeological discoveries unless they are themselves supported by external evidence.

I have transcribed Greek words with no more change than English c and y for k and u, except in names which are familiar in English or Latin forms, as Plutarch and Aeschylus. This apparent inconsistency has the advantage of distinguishing between literary works which we possess, and those that exist in fragments or not at all. Thus Apollodorus is the author of the well-known mythological Library, Apollodoros of the lost Chronography.

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