Category: ILIAD: Book II

One Brave Soul’s Courageous Attempt to Transcribe some of the Proemium of the Iliad into Mycenaean Linear B (Click to ENLARGE):

Proemium of the Iliad in Linear B

Now I must admit that when I ran across this wonderful exercise some brave soul recently undertook to try to translate at least some of the Proemium of the first book of Homer’s Iliad into Mycenaean Linear B, I was delightfully rewarded by the person’s true grasp of the manifold difficulties (some of them well-nigh insurmountable, or so it would appear) in any such hazard-fraught attempt!  But as I have so often said before on our blog, someone has got to do it first. And my congratulations to this person! I would be delighted if you would identify yourself to us all.

Eventually, we will be attempting the same zany exercise, not only with the Proemium (Introduction) to Book I of the Iliad, but for certain portions of the famous Catalogue of Ships in Book II, which will more easily lend themselves to translation from Homeric Greek to Linear B text, since the Homeric Greek in the Catalogue of Ships in Book II of the Iliad is the most archaic Greek in the entire Iliad.  And the reasons why we shall insist on translating certain key passages in the Catalogue of Ships will become abundantly clear when we eventually get around to said translations.  But don’t hold your breath. That will not happen until sometime in 2015, since I must first translate the entire Catalogue of Ships (viz. Lines 489-784 of Book II of the Iliad) this year, before we can even begin to think about taking that next bold step.

In the meantime, I invite you to enjoy our friend’s translation as we do.


End of our Translation of the Introduction to Book II of the Iliad: lines 109-130 Click to ENLARGE: 

Iliad 2 109-130 Greek1800

As I promised in my last post, I would draw to a definite conclusion my translation of the Introduction to Book II of the Iliad, arbitrarily cutting the whole thing off at line 130, since after this point Agamemnon, after his usual fashion, flies off into a fit (even worse than this one!), lamenting in self-pity that Almighty Zeus would have dared pull such a stunt on him, and not allow to the Archeans to sack Troy, but to have to turn around and sail back home with their tails between their legs, something no man as arrogant and pig-headed as Agamemnon would ever accept. When we next return to our translation of The Catalogue of Ships, starting with line 484, everything is hunkey-dorey again, since Agamemnon has finally (finally!... was there ever any question he would not!) got his way, and he is mustering all the companies of ships of all his kings in fealty from every country state in Greece, and is hell-bent & determined to get his way, and sack the city of Troy.... which everyone knows that is precisely what he will do, even poor old blow-hard Zeus, who can do nothing about it anymore.

I shall focus specifically on the extreme importance of translating the Catalogue of Ships (lines 484-789), which is considered to be written in the most archaic Greek of all the Iliad over and above all of the rest of the Iliad, even the rest of Book II,. But enough of that for now. 


Homer: Iliad: Book II: The Catalogue of Ships (continued)  – Introduction: Lines 76-108 (Click to ENLARGE):

Iliad 2 76-108 in Greek

With this post, we continue our translation of the Introduction to Book II of Homer’s Iliad, which contains the famous Catalogue of Ships (lines 484-779). You can find the Introductory texts to Book II of the Iliad in sequence by clicking on the Heading, “Iliad: Book II” at the top of our home page, right under the title, Linear B, Knossos & Mycenae. I have so far translated lines 1-108 of the Introduction, and I shall soon post lines 109-130, which will bring my translation of the Introduction to Book II of the Iliad to an end.

I have translated the Introduction specifically to provide the setting for the translation of the entire Catalogue of Ships (lines 484-779). which is much more germane to our purposes, given that the a good deal of the grammar and vocabulary of Catalogue of Ships (lines 484-779) can be seen to have been either directly or indirectly derived from the much earlier Mycenaean Greek grammar and vocabulary in Linear B, and from that of Arcado-Cypriot Linear C, the closest cousin of the East Greek dialects to Mycenaean Greek. I shall shortly post (what I consider to be) the remainder of the Introduction to Book II of the Iliad, that is, lines 109-130, after which I will jump straightaway to the Catalogue of ships, starting at line 484 of Book II, and proceeding all the way to the end of the Catalogue of Ships (line 779). I expect this translation to take up the rest of 2014 and the better part of 2015.




Table 3B: Syllables ending with Consonants in (early) Alphabetical Greek, which Linear B Syllabograms Cannot Account for: Click to ENLARGE:

Table3B syllables ending with consonants in Greek unaccounted for in Linear B

NOTE! This is the most important post I have ever posted on our Blog to date. So if you are really serious about learning Mycenaean Grammar, you cannot afford not to read it and digest it thoroughly. 

With this table (Table 3B), we have finally come to the end of our (occasionally exasperating) adventure in cross-correlating orthographic or spelling “conventions” in Linear B with those of (early) alphabetical Greek, by which I mean preferentially the spelling conventions in The Catalogue of Ships of Book II of the Iliad; failing that, the orthography of Book II of the Iliad; failing that, the orthographic conventions of the Iliad; failing that, of the Odyssey; failing that, of the Arcado-Cypriot dialect, the most ancient Greek dialect (ca. 1100-400 BCE) second only to the Mycenaean (ca. 1500-1200 BCE); and finally, failing that, of early Ionic Greek. The cross-correlation of Linear B spelling conventions with those of early Greek should and indeed, to my mind, must strictly follow the order of precedence I have set out here, for various reasons, not the least of which are:

1. The orthographic conventions of (The Catalogue of Ships in) Book II of the Iliad mirror those of Mycenaean Linear B so closely that at times the correlation is almost uncanny, as for instance, in the ancient Greek genitive singular, which is “oyo” in Linear B and “oio” in Book II of the Iliad – in other words, identical. Other examples of such intimate orthographic correspondences include, but are not limited to, the ancient masculine nouns, whose nominative ending is “eu” in Linear B and “eus” in Book II of the Iliad, leading us to more than reasonably speculate that the Mycenaean Linear B declension of all such nouns must have been all but identical in Mycenaean and early alphabetical Greek (See the entries in Table 3B tagged [7]. Or yet again, we notice that entries [6], namely, the masculine singular nominal and adjectival ending “os”, already prevalent in early alphabetical Greek is represented in Linear B, but with this important distinction: the final S in the alphabetical Greek is missing in the Linear B equivalents, for the obvious reason that Linear B syllabograms cannot end with consonants. And what is true of the masculine is also true of the neuter. The Linear B  ending “o” must correspond to the Greek ending “on”. Getting messy, eh?

2.1 IN PRINCIPLE: Restated in general terms and in principle, the nominative singular any and all (early) alphabetical adjectives & nouns, regardless of gender, (almost) always ends with a consonant, whereas naturally in Linear B, this consonant is always missing: See Table 3B [4-7 inclusive]. It is crucial that you master this principle, if you are to truly grasp the several (mostly apparent) distinctions that obtain between nominal and adjectival declensions in Mycenaean Linear B versus early alphabetical Greek.

2.2 IN PRINCIPLE: As we shall soon discover, this principle is universal, and applies to all adjectival and nominal declensions in both the singular and plural in both Mycenaean Linear B and early alphabetical Greek. Failure to fully grasp this principle in its essence will lead to all sorts of misunderstandings and (often egregious) misinterpretations in all nominal and adjectival declensions, regardless of gender and number, in so far as these can be logically and practically reconstructed, either in whole or in part – and, as it unfortunately turns out, almost always in part.

3 NOTE that this scenario, whereby we shall endeavour to the best of our ability, and under severe constraints, to regressively-progressively reconstruct nominal and adjectival declensions for nouns in at least most their cases (rarely all of them) is very much at odds with the conjugations of verbs, both thematic and athematic, with which I have encountered striking success in the reconstruction of the active voice of all of these tenses: present, future, imperfect, aorist and perfect.

STEP 1: The Reconstruction of Mycenaean grammar in Linear B: Conjugations of Verbs:

As a prelude to our gainful attempts to reconstruction adjectival and nominal declensions, I shall first post the complete table of our successful reconstruction of both thematic and athematic verbs in the active voice of all of these tenses: present, future, imperfect, aorist and perfect. The conjugations of participles in Mycenaean Linear B are relatively straight-forward, because we have many examples of these (for good reasons, as we shall eventualy see). We will, however, run into some difficulties with middle and passive verbs,

Step 2: The Reconstruction of Mycenaean grammar in Linear B: Nominal-Adjectival Declensions:

before we move onto the second step in the reconstruction of Mycenaean grammar, nominal-adjectival declensions. I shall thoroughly explain why I have (a) deliberately omitted the other active tenses & (b) why the reconstruction of verbs has proven to be a much greater success than I can ever reasonably expect from my future attempts at reconstructing nominal-adjectival declensions.

And that is still only scratching the surface!

Step 3: The Reconstruction of Mycenaean grammar in Linear B: Prepositions and the Cases they “Govern”:

Wait until we have to deal with prepositions (originally always adverbs) and the cases they “govern”, a misnomer if I ever heard one.



Mycenaean Linear B: Level 3 Review – All New Vocabulary using the Homophone AI

A Homophone in Mycenaean Linear B consists of not just a consonant + 1 vowel, but of either:

a consonant + 2 vowels OR a consonant + 3 vowels

The simplest homophones in Linear B are what we call diphthongs in English. Diphthongs in English consist of 2 vowels pronounced as one sound.

For instance,

AI which is pronounced like “ai” in aisle.
EI which  is pronounced like “ei” in freight & weight
OI which is pronounced like “oy” in boy & as in the words: boil, coil, soil, toil

Of these, only the homophone AI exists in Linear B. In other words, there is no possible way to express the diphthongs “ei” and “oi” in English.

Here we have a small vocabulary of 7 Mycenaean Greek words beginning with the homophone AI – Click to ENLARGE:

Linear B Homophone AI

We shall eventually post a small cross-section of Linear B words later on this year, beginning with A as they will (tentatively) appear in the English-Mycenaean/Mycenaean-English Linear B Lexicon of some 5,000 to 7,500 words we intend to publish sometime in 2017 or 2018, either attested (A) on the tablets or derived (D), in order of precedence, highest to lowest, from (a) The Catalogue of Ships in Book II of the Iliad (b) Book II of the Iliad (d) The Iliad (e) early East Greek dialects such as Arcado-Cypriot (above all others!), early Ionic and Aeolic Greek & finally, and only as a last resort, from (e) Attic Greek. This way, our readers, students and researchers of Linear B will be able to get  a good idea of what our English-Mycenaean/Mycenaean-English Linear B Lexicon will probably look like when it is eventually published around 2018.


The Extreme Significance of the Syllabograms JO and SI in Mycenaean Greek (Click to ENLARGE):

Ventris grids JO = YO & SI

This table is pretty much self-explanatory. About the only thing I wish to call to your attention is this: the syllabogram SI is not only highly flexible in its usages (5), but in its adaptability to expressing several alternative combinations of word endings: sij si ci. 

Much more on this later. I will soon explain how the Mycenaeans managed to adapt the Linear A morphed to Linear B syllabary to express the phonetic values of ancient Greek, which they actually did quite well, considering the serious restraints the Linear B script imposed on them.


Honouring Michael Ventris: Conjugations of All Tenses in the Active Voice of Athematic MI Verbs in Mycenaean Greek

                                                   Honouring Michael Ventris

Michael Ventris at work in his study
In honour of Michael Ventris for his astounding achievement in his brilliant decipherment of the Mycenaean Linear B script and syllabary, I am taking the first major step on a long journey to recover as much of the corpus of Mycenaean Greek grammar & vocabulary as I possibly can squeeze out of the evidence from extant Linear B tablets and from Book II of Homer's Iliad, above all, from the Catalogue of Ships, in which the most archaic Greek Homer had recourse to abounds. Needless to say, I do all this in honour of the memory of Michael Ventris, one of the greatest geniuses of the twentieth century, a man whose stellar intelligence and prodigious powers of concentration I cannot help but admire in the extreme.  In fact, I wouldn't go far wrong in asserting that I practically idolize the man (... might as well tell the truth).

Conjugations of All Tenses in the Active Voice of Athematic MI Verbs in Mycenaean Greek (Click to ENLARGE):

Active Voice Conjugations all Tenses Athematic Mi verbs
As far as I know, this is the first time that anyone has ever attempted to reconstruct the entire verbal system of all tenses in the active voice of Athematic MI verbs in Mycenaean Greek. Much more is to follow. I shall have reconstructed the middle and passive voices of both Thematic and Athematic verbs by the summer of this year (2014).

With this table of all tenses in the active voice of Athematic MI verbs, using the verb "didomi" (I give, to give) as our paradigm, we have succeeded in the regressive reconstruction of these tenses in the active voice from their (approximate) Homeric forms, as used in the Iliad. By regressively extrapolating as many of the “original” Mycenaean forms as we possibly can from their Homeric descendents, we have been able to  move forward to the progressive reconstruction of each of the tenses of the active voice of Athematic verbs, as illustrated in this table.

This constitutes the first major step in our long journey to reconstruct as much of Mycenaean Greek grammar as far as we possibly can, for all parts of speech: verbs and adverbs, nouns & adjectives, as well as prepositions and the cases they govern. I have already progressively reconstructed most of the tenses of Thematic verbs in Mycenaean Greek, and will post the complete table shortly.  This will finalize our reconstruction of the active voice of the Mycenaean Greek verbal system.

But why, I hear you asking, aren't you reconstituting the subjunctive and optative moods? The answer is simple: since Mycenaean Linear B Greek seems to have been almost exclusively used for economic, accounting and fiscal records (including manufacturing and agriculture) and for some religious observances, it would appear that the Mycenaeans did not resort to the subjunctive and optative moods in writing on Linear B tablets, though they certainly must have used them regularly in spoken Mycenaean Greek.  A few straggling forms pop up in the Mycenaean Linear B vocabulary, but by no means enough of them to warrant any plausible reconstruction of the  subjunctive and optative moods. As I have repeatedly pointed out, I cannot and will not make any effort to regressively-progressively reconstruct any parts of speech for which there is (almost) no evidence on the extant Linear B tablets. Such an endeavour is foolish and hazardous. The only Mycenaean grammatical constructs we  can safely and reasonably delineate are those for which adequate evidence either appears on extant tablets or which is attested in Homer's Iliad, and above all other considerations, in the Catalogue of Ships in Book II. This is precisely why I am translating the Catalogue of Ships in its entirety, as it is riddled with archaic remnants of Mycenaean Greek grammar, thus serving as the “perfect” (so to speak) point of reference or departure, if you like, for regressive extrapolation of the most ancient grammatical forms to be found in Homer's Iliad into their ancestral counterparts in Mycenaean Greek. I shall also have recourse to the "Idalion Tablet" in Cypro-Minoan Linear C as a secondary point of reference for the reconstruction of Mycenaean Greek grammar, since, as I have already demonstrated, these two very ancient Greek dialects are more closely intertwined than any other Greek dialects whatsoever, including the Attic and Ionic dialects.     

It is with all of this firmly in mind that I intend to reconstruct as much of the corpus of Mycenaean Greek grammar as is feasibly possible by the end of 2015, after which I will go on to publish my book, Mycenaean Linear B: Progressive Grammar and Vocabulary, sometime in 2016-2017. This volume will not only greatly enhance our knowledge of Mycenaean Greek grammar, but will significantly expand Mycenaean Greek vocabulary, both attested and derived, to at least 5,000 words.  Keep posted.  


Entire Loeb Classical Library (100s of books in ancient Greek) goes digital! Click Loeb Classical Library logo to read the news!


This is fantastic news for those of us who truly enjoy reading the Greek classics.


CRITICAL POST: The Present and Imperfect Tenses of Reduplicating – MI – Verbs in Linear B [Click to ENLARGE):

linear b mi verbs present and imperfect tense
NOTE: If you are a researcher in Linear B, it is highly advisable that you read and thoroughly digest this post in its entirety, as it constitutes a major milestone in the exegesis of my Theory of Regressive Linear B Grammar & Vocabulary.  Failure to read this post may result in an inability to further confirm or reject, either in whole or in part, the premises upon which my entire theory rests.
Athematic – MI –verbs are shared in large part by Greek and and Sanskrit, respectively the Occidental & Oriental agnates or close/near descendents of the same extremely ancient (proto-) Indo-European class.  All verbs of this athematic class invariably share the standard ending –  mi –  in the 1st. person sing. of the present tense.

Ancient Greek and Indic (Sanskrit) are similar in many respects, which may strike some as surprising since they cross the hypothetical “satem/centum” line, which the Occidental sub-class (all ancient Greek dialects & Latin & its dialects) treats the Proto IE gutturals as hard (Gr.e9kato/n Lat. centum = 100,) as against Sanscrit, chatam, and Old Persian, satem. But there are so many structural affinities, from parallel verb forms down to musical pitches, that some special connections must have existed between and prior to these two groups, which appear to have almost certainly sprung from the same Proto IE ancestral language. On the other hand, while Sanskrit is normally considered solidly IE, less than 40% of Greek vocabulary and grammar appears to derive directly from Proto IE roots, giving rise to the hypothesis that other extra-structural factors are surely involved in the evolution of ancient Greek. This phenomenon, peculiar to Greek alone, may also have significant implications for the eventual decipherment of Linear A. But this is mere speculation on my part.  Still... you never know. At any rate, I intend eventually to follow this avenue of approach, my small contribution to the eventual decipherment of at least a tiny substrate (superstrate?) of Linear A sometime in 2016.

Seminal Characteristics of Athematic MI Verbs:

Athematic MI verbs are characterized, for the most part, by their own unique set of endings, although the 2nd. and 3rd. plurals are virtually the same as those of the Thematic so-called “regular” verbs in ancient Greek. It would appear, then, that “regular” verbs retained the athematic 2nd. and 3rd. plurals of their ancestors, the athematic Mi verbs, while casting all other athematic endings aside.

Reduplication in the Present Tense:

The most striking phenomenon of MI verbs is reduplication in the present tense, which is restricted to perfect formations of “regular” thematic verbs in ancient Greek. This state of affairs raises two critical questions in my mind: [1] are so-called “regular” verbs in ancient Greek derived from the more ancient athematic  MI verbs, or did they simply borrow the athematic endings of the athematic 2nd. and 3rd. plurals the ancestral MI verbs? Later this year, I shall demonstrate the apparent yet quite possibly significant link between the SI endings of the present indicative and san endings of the perfect indicative in both classes of verbs, thematic and athematic. Another truly striking similarity between the more archaic and early “regular” forms in Homeric Greek is the sharing of the SI ending in the dative plural. I am highly inclined to stress the statistically probable significance of these endings, in both their verbal and nominal forms, shared by their more ancestral and and early “regular” forms in both Mycenaean and Homeric Greek.

This phenomenon will re-appear frequently in both the attested [A] and derivative [D] forms of the 3rd. person plural of all verbs, thematic or athematic regardless and in the SI ending of the dative plural, not only in Homeric, but also in Mycenaean Linear B, which attests to their extreme antiquity in ancient Greek. The fact that these forms were already fully developed in Mycenaean Greek strongly points to the likelihood that they arose from the earliest ancestral (proto-) Greek of Mycenaean and Homeric Greek alike (above all in the Catalogue of Ships in Book II of the Iliad). All of these grammatical constructs are already firmly rooted in Mycenaean and Homeric Greek, giving rise to my hypothesis that it is not only possible, but highly feasible to regressively reconstruct huge chunks of Mycenaean Greek grammar and vocabulary from their (quasi-direct) descendent, the Homeric Greek of (the Catalogue of Ships) of the second Book of the Iliad.

All of this raises another hypothetical question in my mind: did there exist ancestral forms of thematic verbs in ancient Greek which shared all or most of their endings, in all tenses, with their (apparently) more ancient MI counterparts, giving rise to the hypothesis that both athematic and thematic verbs were derived from even more ancient verbal constructs, in which all remotely ancient (proto-) Greek verbs were in fact athematic? That this is possible, and even probable, is reinforced by the uncontested fact that in Sanskrit both MI and O verbs alike share reduplication, meaning there is no marked distinction between “thematic” and “athematic” verbs in Sanskrit, in other words, they are of one and the same class. This phenomenon then reappears in a restricted number of Latin perfects, like tutudi from tundo "beat", old tetuli from thw stem tul- which supplements the forms of Latin. fero (Gr.fe/rw ). Since Latin developed in parallel with ancient Greek, but independently from the latter, this then raises the question yet again, how on earth can it be that such reduplication occurs in Latin but not in Greek, unless there is a possibility (however remote) that reduplication occurred in both thematic and athematic verbs of their proto-Greek and proto-Latin ancestors?

If indeed that is the case, then it would appear that proto-Greek and proto-Latin shared this seminal characteristic with not only Sanskrit, but proto-Sanskrit, and hence, by inference, with the proto IE ancestor of all three of these languages. If this is that case, it necessarily follows that both the thematic O endings and athematic MI endings share one and the same singular ancestor, which must have been neither thematic nor athematic, but one and the very same root of both classes. So I have to wonder out loud whether thematic O and athematic MI verbs in Sanskrit, Mycenaean Greek and Homeric Greek alike all derive from a single class of verbs, embodying the characteristics of both of these classes of verbs. If that is even remotely a possibility, then we cannot afford to ignore it, since it allows us to regressivly reconstruct, to some degree at least, even some of the tenses of the Proto-IE ancestor of all of these languages. Wouldn't that be a revelation? Of course, all this is speculation on my part, but I love to indulge in speculative hypotheses, if there is even a remote chance that someday some of them may prove to be sound.

Only time and future refinements in the science of linguistics may lend some credence to the hypotheses I am making here. If anything, computational linguistics and the great leaps in the application of artificial intelligence to linguistic theory (-ies) are likely to give rise to even more speculative hypotheses, hypotheses which may yet prove to rest on a much more solid foundation in applied linguistics than we can hope to approach at present. We shall see.

In other words, the foundation of my theory of the Regressive Reconstruction of Mycenaean Linear B grammar and vocabulary rests firmly on the regressive extrapolation of all such forms from he Homeric Greek of (the Catalogue of Ships) of the second Book of the Iliad or from any of the following dialects, Cypriot Linear C (above all others), Aeolic, Arcadian and early Ionic Greek, all of which appear to have been (quasi-) direct descendents of Mycenaean Greek. Doric Greek does not properly enter into the equation.


On thing, however, is certain: the athematic – mi – verbs, in all tenses & moods, and in the all-pervasive participial constructions in ancient Homeric Greek must have been already firmly entrenched in Mycenaean Greek, from the simple observation of the facts, namely, that at least some these forms of all tenses, moods and participles are already almost all attested [A] on Mycenaean Linear B tablets. And even where some forms of all tenses, moods and participles in verbs are not to be found on any Linear B tablets, enough of them are attested for us to be able to reasonably reconstruct them in their entirety or at least in part from the attested forms.

And what applies to verbs, applies also to all other parts of speech in Mycenaean Linear B (nouns, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions and even formulaic phrases shared with Homeric Greek). These happily fortuitous antecedents in Linear B to their later counterparts in Homeric Greek recur quite frequently enough for me to be able to regressively reconstitute the Linear B forms from their subsequent Homeric forms. This, in a nutshell, is the entire premise of the Theory of Regressive Linear B as I intend to clearly demonstrate in the reconstruction of large chunks of ancestral Mycenaean Greek grammar and vocabulary, both attributed [A] and derivative [D] from its direct descent, Homeric Greek, and in particular the frequent occurrences of archaic Greek in Book II of the Iliad, in which in turn even more archaic forms frequently recur in the Catalogue of Ships (lines 484-789), the most reliable source for ancestral Mycenaean Greek grammar and vocabulary in the entire Iliad. Concomitantly, and once again happily, any of the following dialects, Cypriot Linear C (above all others), Aeolic, Arcadian and early Ionic Greek also well serve the purpose as direct and indirect descendents of Mycenaean Greek, from which it is feasible to regressively extrapolate grammatical and terminological constructs in Linear B.  Doric Greek, however, does not enter into the equation, since the Dorian invasion transpired after the fall of Mycenaean civilization.


Archaic Greek in Book II, The Iliad, “The Catalogue of Ships” Translation into English: Part II, Lines 35-75 (Click to ENLARGE):

Homer Iliad Book 2 Lines 35-75

My commentary on the derivation of the archaic Greek vocabulary and grammar in Book II of the Iliad from its much older Mycenean Linear B counterparts appears immediately after this post, and after every consecutive post of my running translation of Book II.  As we proceed through Book II of the Iliad, we shall come to realize, quickly enough, that in fact the grammar and vocabulary of Book II, and in particular of the Catalogue of Ships (Lines 484-779), is inextricably woven with its parent dialect, namely, Mycenaean Greek, and consequently with the grammar and vocabulary of Linear B itself, from which the archaic Greek of this book of th Iliad is ultimately derived.

One thing I would like to make perfectly clear. While the Greek of Book II of the Iliad is archaic in many places, there is no way on earth that I would translate any of the Iliad into archaic English! Far too many translations of the Iliad reek of archaic English, and to my mind at least, have no place whatsoever in the annals of twenty-first century translations of ancient Greek texts into English, or into any other modern language, for that matter.  The whole idea of the exercise is to make the ancient Homeric Greek as accessible and as readable as is humanly possible to today's allophone readers of the Iliad.  Otherwise, I see no point in translating the text at all. If we are to get any real enjoyment out of any translation of the Iliad, for heaven's sake, let it be easy (and perhaps even fun) to read!



Again, thanks to Rogue Classicism for reblogging.


Linear B, Knossos & Mycenae

The Extreme Significance of the Archaic Greek of the Catalogue of Ships in Book II of Iliad in the Reconstruction of Mycenaean Greek

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An Analysis of the Archaic Greek in the Iliad: Book II (Lines 1-34) [Click to ENLARGE]:

Analysis of the archaic Greek in the iliad-book-2-lines-1-34

This post takes the text of the first 34 lines of Book II of the Iliad, which appear in the previous post with my translation into English, and extrapolates from that text most of the archaic Greek grammar and vocabulary which appear in it. And there is quite a lot. For instance, the archaic Mycenaean genitive appears in line 18 (i9ppoda/moio Linear B IQODAMOYO), dative in line 3. (nhusi\n Linear B NEUSI) and accusative in line 19. (pannu/xion… …a1ndra Linear B PANUKIO… ….ADARA), to cite just 3 examples in the first 34 lines alone. Archaic forms of all parts of speech are found throughout Book II of the Iliad, but they occur far more frequently in the Catalogue of Ships (Lines 484-789) than anywhere else. The significance of this cannot be overestimated. The liberal use of archaic Greek grammar and vocabulary, above all in the Catalogue of Ships, provides extremely strong circumstantial evidence that Catalogue of Ships is of Mycenaean origin, and was recited by Mycenaean bards, not as myth but as historical fact. Apparently, the Trojan War did in fact occur around 1200 BCE. It is my belief that the Trojan War, although it culminated in victory for the Greeks, was in fact a Pyrrhic victory, because it completely exhausted the military and naval resources of Mycenae and its subject cities (Pylos, Tiryns, Orchomenos, Thebes & Athens),

Mycenaean Empire

resulting in the inevitable utter destruction of Mycenae and all its satellite cities, which were no longer able to defend themselves against the invasion of the barbaric Dorian hordes. It strikes me as singularly strange that this entirely plausible explanation for the destruction of Mycenaean civilization is almost never mentioned in historical literature of early ancient Greece.


The Extreme Significance of the Archaic Greek of the Catalogue of Ships in Book II of Iliad in the Reconstruction of Mycenaean Greek:

As an introduction to the application of the Greek of Book II of the Iliad, I shall be posting passages from it as the need arises to confirm the inextricable link between Book II of the Iliad, and first and foremost, of the Catalogue of Ships (lines 484-779), in which we find the most archaic Greek in the entire Iliad. We start, of course, with the parallel Greek-English text of the introduction to Book II, in my own modern twenty-first century English translation of Book II.  I remind you all, in passing, that the majority of translations of any part or all of the Iliad are either archaic or inaccurate,  hence, entirely misleading, serving no practical purpose in research into Homeric Greek or its ancestors, archaic Greek and its own parent, Mycenaean Greek.  I have attempted to make my translation as literal as possible, without being clumsy.  Here it is (To make this legible, you will need to Click to ENLARGE):


Book II of the Iliad, and in particular the archaic Catalogue of Ships (lines 484-779)  serves as the true foundation for the regressive-progressive reconstruction of Mycenaean Linear B grammar.  In all the Iliad there is no passage as archaic as the Catalogue of Ships (lines 484-779). By this I mean that almost all of the Iliad, with the sole exception of the Catalogue of Ships in Book 2, is composed in so-called Epic Greek, an artificial form of ancient Greek which is an admixture of Ionic, Aeolic and Arcado-Cypriot Greek (often written in Linear C). Epic Greek is not a dialect of ancient Greek. It is a grave error to assume that it is.

But notice the dialects upon which it is based, particularly the last two. Of all the ancient Greek dialects, these two have at their own roots an even more archaic dialect, namely, Mycenaean Greek.  The most archaic form of these two dialects is to be found in the Catalogue of Ships (lines 484-779)  of Book II of the Iliad. The significance of this cannot be over-stressed. It is in  the Catalogue of Ships that we find the most archaic vocabulary and grammar, which appears only sparsely in the rest of the Iliad, and all of which was to fall permanently out of use in ancient Greek, after the composition of the Iliad.

Archaic Mycenaean vocabulary and remnants of Mycenaean grammar are peppered liberally throughout the text of the Catalogue of Ships. Thus, if we are to regressively reconstruct the grammar and the vocabulary of Mycenaean Greek, whether attributed on the extant Linear B tablets, or merely derived from ancient Greek, we should, in so far it is possible, resort to the Greek of the Catalogue of Ships in Book II of the Iliad as the most reliable source by far and thus as the firm foundation for the reconstruction of Mycenaean Greek.   Since the Greek of the Catalogue of Ships is significantly more archaic than any other form of ancient Greek, whether artificial (Epic Homeric Greek) or dialectical, this text and this text alone is able to corroborate with a sufficient degree of precision the most probable antecedents of its grammar and vocabulary in the ancestral dialect upon which it is squarely based, that is, Mycenaean Greek.

Throughout 2014 & 2015, I shall demonstrate, over and over, how closely the grammar and vocabulary of the Catalogue of Ships mirrors that of its ancestral parent, Mycenaean Greek. By far the finest background source for research into the genesis of the archaic Greek of the  Catalogue of Ships is: Page, Denys. History and the Homeric Iliad. Berkeley, University of California Press, © 1966. vi, 350 pp.  Anyone wishing to seriously pursue the study of Mycenaean Greek cannot afford to pass over this extremely persuasive analysis of the archaic Greek of  the Catalogue of Ships, and its inextricable bond with its ancestor, Mycenaean Greek.  In fact, the archaic Greek of the Catalogue of Ships can be considered the grandchild of Mycenaean Greek.

Finally, in passing, may I add this reminder.  Failing the establishment of a firm link between any element or part of the text of the Catalogue of Ships and its Mycenaean counterpart, the next best source for regressive-progressive reconstruction of Mycenaean Greek must, of course, be the Iliad itself.  As Denys Page so often confirms, even the Epic Greek of the Odyssey has moved beyond the confines of the archaic Greek in the Catalogue of Ships, meaning that it cannot be considered as reliable a source as the Catalogue for regressive-progressive reconstruction of Mycenaean Greek.  Nevertheless, failing the first two options elucidated here: above all, reliance on the archaic Greek of the Catalogue of Ships and, secondly, on the Greek of the rest of the Iliad, we shall occasionally have no other recourse than to resort to ancient Greek texts in other dialects, in particular, the Ionic (and even Attic) dialects, both of which strangely enough contain, however infrequently, a few vestiges of the most archaic Greek. But the further afield we stray from the archaic Greek of the Catalogue of Ships, the weaker and weaker the link(s), if any, that can possibly obtain between Mycenaean Greek and those dialects.

Denys Page makes this perfectly clear.


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