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May 14, 2004


I will probably watch Troy this weekend. Here is a Slate piece on whether Helen is hot or not. I used to be a Mycenaean history buff, so I'm curious about what they got right, and where they decided to go with the faux-Classical standard that dominates sword-and-sandal epics. For example, look at this scene, though cavalry was not unknown, this was an age of chariots, and though the soldiers do not quite resemble hoplites, there seems a strong Roman overlay (thanks Gladiator!) on the bronze age look. I wonder if they are going to sacrifice Iphigenia? In any case, here is an excerpt of a book about the Mycenaeans in the context of Homer, and a site that has notes for a course on Aegean archaeology.

Update: Saw Troy. Worth the matinee price. Obviously didn't get many literary or historical details right, but captured the spirit of the Sea Peoples, etc. Cute chicks get more face time than in Lord of the Rings, and the music reminded me of Gladiator. If there was a strong selection pressure in favor of men who were easily convinced by their wives to not go to war, how come we aren't all cowards now??? (don't answer that! Remember what the women of Sparta told their sons, "Come back with your shield, or on it!")

Update II: Want to double check characters from the movie? Check out The Encyclopedia Mythica.

Addendum on historical quibbles below:

1) Achilles wears a faux-classical helmet and cuirass, no one else does. The Trojans seem to be more faithfull to a Mycenaean "look and feel" when it comes to armor.

2) Ideas of nationalism seem to be projected to Bronze Age Greece, straight out of the Classical Era.

3) A lot of riding on horses. This wasn't too common in this period. They do put a lot of the leaders on chariots, but it seems that they had a shortage of them.

4) OK, Sparta is not a port, but in any case, the "great hall" of the king seemed pulled straight ouf a 1960s Vikings movie. It was dark and dank looking, etc. I'm not saying that the Mycenaean palaces were as lush as those of Knossos, but it didn't have the right Mediterranean atmosphere.

5) Was it just me, or did the statues of the gods kind of look Etruscun or what?

6) Funeral pyres are attested to in Homer, but are quite likely ahistorical, the warlords of Bronze Age Greece were buried.

7) The women dressed faux-classical, not like Mycenaeans.

8) They seemed to sometimes move the swords as if they were light steel implements, not heavy bronze.

Posted by razib at 11:13 PM