Homer’s Iliad is one of the most famous works of Bronze Age Greece. Its date and composition, however, is one of the academically controversial. Recently, a group of researchers at the University of Reading applied the same techniques to researching genetic evolution (using the rate of genetic mutation) to the evolution of language. Using this method, they determined that the Iliad was written approximately 762 BCE +/- 50 years; a date consistent with historical theories.
“Languages behave just extraordinarily like genes.It is directly analogous. We tried to document the regularities in linguistic evolution and study Homer’s vocabulary as a way of seeing if language evolves the way we think it does. If so, then we should be able to find a date for Homer.” — Mark Pagel, Ph.D.
Mary Beard’s article investigates not only the ill-fated history of the two brothers (who would ultimately end up dead after their incomplete attempt to overthrown the standing regime) as well as the interesting, art-historical timeline of how the men are displayed. They have long been heralded (with much fancy and historical reinvention) as political heroes – democratic leaders, martyrs, and idealistic political savants. Their physical image has been manipulated over the centuries as much as their historical one. To read more about this tale, see the article by Mary Bard: “A Don’s Life: A closer look at the tyrant slayers“).
Theoi.com is a great, free online resource for Greek mythology in literature and art. Theoi (the plural of the Greek Theos, meaning God) categorizes all Greek deities, stories, art galleries, and classical texts. If you have a passing interest or doing research, it’s a great resource!
With the debt crisis and pending austerity measures in Greece, one of the great losers in this could be the Antiquities of Ancient Greece. Already plagued with deficiencies in conservation, preservation, guarding (as highlighted in the recent armed theft at Olympia), Greek antiquities face further cuts. Greek authorities are reaching out to private investors and philanthropists, but without much success.
To read more about the campaign to preserve Greek Antiquities, see the article at MSNBC.