Monday, September 5, 2022

Homer's "Illiad" as it was misspelled - a Quoran asked on accuracy

On Homer's Trojan War · Homer's Heritage · Homer's "Illiad" as it was misspelled - a Quoran asked on accuracy

How accurate is The Illiad by Homer compared to other sources?

Hans-Georg Lundahl
none/ apprx Masters in Latin (language) & Greek (language), Lund University
We don’t have all that many other sources from closer times, unless you accept the claims of Dares the Phrygian[1] and Dictys the Cretan[2] to be contemporaries. Homer was of course about 350 years after the events.

Many scholars reject these, but even if we accept “Dite and Dare” (Dictys and Darius) they do not seem to contradict Homer. Obviously, if these are frauds, they don’t contradict him because they depend heavily on him.

Now, I have heard of the - looked it up - Tawagalawa letter[3]. This letter seems to involve a war between Greeks and Trojans being actually avoided. However, the Tawagalawa letter was from c. 1250 BC. And Troy was taken 1179 BC - seventy years later.

Those who state that the Tawagalawa letter and the Homeric material are about the same timeframe and therefore contradict and therefore the Tawagalawa letter should be preferred, are probably relying on the fact that it mentions a certain Piyama-Radu[4] often identified with Priam in Homer’s work.

There are two solutions to this.

  1. The Tawagalawa letter could feature Priam in his prime of youth (he is of course a warlord in it) and the Trojan war only occurred when he had become old so his sons had to do the fighting (it is also possible there is some slight misdating of the Tawagalawa letter so the difference in age is less than 60 years for beginning of the Trojan War and 70 years for his and its end, taking of Troy, slaying of himself - but warlords of 20 years have occurred (King David) and people living to 90 have also occurred;
  2. The Priam of the Tawagalawa letter and the Priam of Homer’s Iliad could be two different men, like father and son, bearing the same regnal name.

It so happens, unlike Hittites, Achaeans and Luwians were not great redactors of narrative texts. And the Hittite corpus of texts is after all fairly limited.

But even more, the Iliad seems to be in a world where the Hittites were no more. The abandonment of Hattusha and of Hittite Imperial ambitions is normally set to 1200 BC, and this is between 1250 (Tawagalawa letter) and 1189 (start of Trojan War, as dated by Eratosthenes.


[1] Dares Phrygius - Wikipedia
[2] Dictys Cretensis - Wikipedia
[3] Tawagalawa letter - Wikipedia
[4] Piyama-Radu - Wikipedia

Hans-Georg Lundahl
Looking at the article on Piyama-Radu, it seems he was grandson of Uhha-Ziti and son of Piyama-Kurunta - if there were more Piyama’s after him, it is not unlikely that Homer’s Priamos nearly generically refers to any Piyama or rather to the Piyama part of his name (both examples have an R in the other part of the name), so, if there was any Piyama after Piyama-Radu, that could very well be the one of Homer too, in support of solution 2.

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