Troy and Homer: Towards a Solution of an Old Mystery

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In this book Joachim Latacz turns the spotlight of modern research on the much-debated question of whether the wealthy city of Troy described by Homer in the Iliad was a poetic fiction or a memory of historical reality.

Earlier excavations at the hill of Hisarlik, in Turkey, on the Dardanelles, brought no answer, but in 1988 a new archaeological enterprise, under the direction of Manfred Korfmann, led to a radical shift in understanding. Latacz, one of Korfmann's closest collaborators, traces the course of these excavations, and the renewed investigation of the imperial Hittite archives they have inspired. As he demonstrates, it is now clear that the background against which the plot of the Iliad is acted out is the historical reality of the thirteenth century BC. The Troy story as a whole must have arisen in this period, and we can detect traces of it in Homer's great poem.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Latacz's treatment of his topic is stimulating, often insightful, thought-provoking, and controversial." —Near Eastern Archaeology

"Latacz not only presents new evidence for the connection between Homer and Troy, but reveals the subtle and rigorous logic ('balancing the probabilities') that, applied to new archaeological evidence, leads to these conclusions. Latacz plots like a crime novelist. Fans of Simon Winchester will love him."—Tom D'Evelyn, Providence Journal (Favorite Books of 2004)

"Joachim Latacz, the best Homeric scholar writing in German, brings the field up to date in Troy and Homer: Towards the Solution of an Old Mystery by synthesizing the latest views of the Hittite tablets and the recent excavations at Troy. The story is well told, with excellent maps and chronological tables and illustrations; the reader is kept on tenterhooks throughout."—Times Literary Supplement

"Troy and Homer, by Joachim Latacz, pushes a case that is as thrilling as its prose is measured."—Independent on Sunday

"Throughout Troy and Homer, potentially daunting intricacies of argument and evidence are mitigated by the translators' serviceable prose and the author's provision of many charts, maps, plans, and explicit section and subsection headings. These help make a meaty volume readily intelligible to a broad non-specialist readership, Latacz's stated target audience, but scholars and serious students, too, will appreciate this exciting and up-to-date overview of the current state of Troy research."—New England Classical Journal

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199263080
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 2/3/2005
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 362
  • Product dimensions: 8.60 (w) x 5.60 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Joachim Latacz is Professor Emeritus at the University of Basel and the author of Homer: His Art and His World.

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Table of Contents

I: Troy
The old sources: a lack of authenticity
The fundamental problem: was Hisarlik really once Troia/Ilios?
Staging posts in a search: what was Hisarlik called in the Bronze Age?
Conclusions: Troy and the empire of the Hittites
The opposing side: 'Achaians' and 'Danaans' - two more names rehabilitated
The result: Homer's backdrop is historical
II: Homer
The basic facts
Homer's Iliad and the tale of Troy
The tale of Troy independent of Homer's
When was the tale of Troy conceived?
How did the tale of Troy reach Homer?
The tale of Troy and history
The result: there probably was a war over Troy

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