Everywhere you look, experts will gleefully tell you that Helen was not from Troy. Helen was from Sparta, they’ll insist. Because she was married to Menelaus. Paris of Troy stole her from Menelaus — and Menelaus was the King of Sparta.
What’s wrong with that picture?
Sparta was founded circa 900 BCE.
The Trojan War happened circa 1250 BCE.
But everywhere you look, alleged experts and translators keep referring ad nauseam to “Helen of Sparta”.
No Sparta in Bronze Age Greece.
That’s because Homer was writing in the Iron Age (c. 750 BC), using popular memes dating back to Bronze Age (c. 1250 BC).
No small feat because, by all appearances, she was the one who single-handedly hacked the earlier Phoenicians alphabet in order to more accurately represent the sounds of Ancient Greek. A language that she first had to learn because homer – we may be startled to discover (as I was) – is, to this day, Greek for hostage. AKA Prisoner of War. Other examples of which include, but are certainly not limited to, Briseis and Chryseis [pronounced kreesees, or crisis?].
In short, the Homeric Question is not so much whether a Trojan War ever really happened so much as it is, “Was Homer a pre-Herodotian [hero-DOUGH-tea-an] historian, writing down an oral tradition, or was she a narrative artist, telling a contemporary tale, a tale of something happening in 750 BC? A tale that the authorities of the day might have put a lost of energy into censoring.
If you treat yourself to the abfab lectures of Eric H. Cline on the subject, the plot begins to thicken in some even more interesting ways.
Ready for the next big WTF?
The peninsula being called “Greece” by just about everyone, to this day, refers to itself as Hellas. The people of Hellas are known as Hellenes. Did Homer personify the Hellenes as Helen and did she then id entify her story with Helen’s? Are Helen and Homer one and the same?
Thank you, Common Knowledge.
It’s The Cyprus Connection, where the Hellenes [blue] and the Phoenicians [red] are mostly likely to have butted Homeric heads. Is Cyprus the Real Troy of 750 BC? Even today, the Hellenes and the Anatolian Peninsula’s current overlords are fighting the same Good Fight, over 2,770 years later.
To be fair, there’s also a little kissing going on along the coasts of Spain, Sardinia and Sicily. But I’m going to stick with the Cyprus story because here’s the wiki [aka common knowledge] on that:
- During the late Bronze Age, the island [of Cyprus] experienced two waves of Greek settlement.
- The first wave consisted of Mycenaean Greek traders who started visiting Cyprus around 1400 BC.
- A major wave of Greek settlement is believed to have taken place following the Bronze Age collapse of Mycenaean Greece from 1100 to 1050 BC, with the island’s predominantly Greek character dating from this period.
- Cyprus occupies an important role in Greek mythology being the birthplace of Aphrodite .
- Literary evidence suggests an early Phoenician presence at Kition which was under Tyrian rule at the beginning of the 10th century BC.
Mind you, we don’t even know what the Phoenicians called themselves. We have just the name that other people gave to them — and to phonetics. They are a people who have been obliterated from History at least twice. But. If we are willing to believe that The Iliad’s Greeks are still today’s Greeks, then it’s fair to conclude also that the Phoenicians are today’s Lebanese.
For those of us who are a little rusty when it comes to Red Metals:
Reading the Tea Leaves of Ancient History can be a bit of a trick, like Parkour, but, like Parkour, there’s something weirdly compelling about it.
Ploy: a cunning plan or action designed to turn a situation to one’s own advantage.
1250-900 is 350. That’s like 1671 (2021-350). Except without writing — just an early prototype FB and Twitter. Word of Mouth. WOM. The stuff that history does, when it is repeating itself, for 3.5 centuries.