Daily Life in the Time of Homer

By Emile Mireaux; Iris Sells | Go to book overview

CHAPTER III
THE LIFE OF A NOBLEMAN1.

THE kind of life led by the Homeric heroes, if not exactly primitive, was relatively very simple. The absence of comfort as we know it, and in particular the poor lighting arrangements, meant that they were singularly at the mercy of the seasons and of the natural variations of daylight.

Life in the great house was very busy at the height of the season, apart from the hottest days, when Sirius, Orion's dog -- the dog star -- made his reappearance at dawn. This occurred during the latter part of our July. It was the period, according to Hesiod, when goats waxed fat, when wine had its richest flavour, and women grew soft and languorous; but when the men were good for nothing. The dog star got into their heads and knees, and the heat burned up their skins. But apart from a few weeks of this, when they could do little but rest in the cooler shade, life was spent in the open air from early spring until December, and was filled with activities of all sorts: inspection of the farm, journeys, hunting and other excursions.

This only came to an end when the harvest was at last brought in, and then people crept back into their houses. The north wind swept the countryside, blowing down from the mountains of Thrace; rushing down the valleys and roaring through the forests. Beneath these storms men walked like bending reeds. The nights became long and tedious; and they were the scene of heavy feasting. The stored up foodstuffs were now heavily drawn upon; for, as Hesiod remarks, one must eat more in winter to combat the

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1
'La Vie du Seigneur.' In this chapter we are concerned primarily with the head of the clan, or 'king' as he was still called; and also, in some measure, with the gennetes or clansmen who were his near or distant relatives (Translator)

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