Tag Archive: Greek Literature



NEW! Link to our POST on how to download Scripta Minoa on academia.edu here.

Just click on: How to download Sir Arthur Evan’s Scripta Minoa, Volumes 1 & 2, Linear B, in their entirety.pdf:

Scripta Minoa main screen

 

and you will immediately be taken to the page on which the article appears, here:

 

Scripta Minoa main file download

 

If you are interested in Scripta Minoa by Sir Arthur Evans at all, you will definitely want to download these 2 volumes, Scripta Minoa, Volume 1 and 2. The Linear B tablets all appear in Volume 2.

 


4 more profoundly moving spiritual thoughts from the Stoic, Marcus Aurelius:

Just to give you an idea of the vast scope and universal appeal of the Stoic philosophy the Roman emperor, Marcus Aurelius (AD 160-180) espoused, here is a composite of four quotations from his splendid Meditations, which I urge anyone who has an eye and an ear for profound spiritual thought to read.

marcus-aurelius-composite-of-4-citations

I have been and am most deeply moved by this profound observation by Marcus Aurelius on the nature of the soul:

The soul becomes dyed with the colour of its thought.

How true, how eminently and profoundly true. This single, acute observation goes a very long way in explaining how the extent of both the good and the evil in every one of us tinctures the soul of each one of us.  Where ever the good prevails over the evil in ones life, and the more the better, the more appealing the colour of ones soul. We can think of many individuals throughout history whose souls are of a subtle, delightful hue. Persons such as Buddha, Mahatma Ghandi and Jesus come to mind.  Their souls must project an aura of  caerulean blue, aquamarine, teal or the like.  But woe to those such as the Roman emperor, the monster, Caligula, Joseph Stalin and  Adolf Hitler, whose souls (or whatever is left of them, if anything) have been tarred all but pitch black.


LBK&M has just joined several major literary LinkedIn Groups!

LBK&M has just joined several major literary LinkedIn Groups! These are:

My LinkedIn Groups

And this is my welcoming message:

Hello from Richard Vallance Linear B, Knossos & Mycenae

We expect to see many more visitors to Linear B, Knossos & Mycenae now that we have hooked up with so many great LinkedIn literary groups.


INVITATION to Classical Sites (Greek & Roman) including Twitter to join us as * PARTNERS  *

FROM: Richard Vallance Janke of Linear B, Knossos and Mycenae

Invitation to join the new Premier Network of Classical Sites on the Internet

NOTE! If you are a regular visitor to Linear B, Knossos & Mycenae, please leave the LINK to your site in Comments, and I will add it to our * PARTNERS *

Otherwise:

To accept, please send me an e-mail at: vallance22@zoho.com
OR vallance22@gmail.com

We have just invited today (Wed. June 15 2016):
Archaeology of the Mediterranean World
Federico Aurora, DAMOS, Database of Mycenaean at Oslo
Michael Cosmopoulos, Iklaina Archaeological Project
MNAMON: Ancient Writing Systems in the Mediterranean
Res Gerendae

5 invitees to the Premier Network of Classical Sies 15062016

See below no. 4

First, a few significant developments with our organization in the past two years:

1. We are now by far the largest Linear B & Linear C site on the Internet.
2. We have translated at least 500 tablets, mostly from Knossos, some from Pylos and Mycenae.
3. I am now being published on a regular basis in key archaeological and historical linguistic sites. My most significant article to date is “An Archaeologist's Translation of Pylos Tablet TA 641-1952 (Ventris) with an Introduction to Supersyllabograms in the in the Vessels & Pottery Sector of Mycenaean Linear B” in, 
Archaeology and Science. Vol. 10 (2014) pp. 133-161. Belgrade: Institute of Archaeology, 2016. ISSN 1452-7448
https://www.academia.edu/23643380/Archaeology_and_Science_Vol._10_2014_An_Archaeologists_Translation_of_Pylos_Tablet_641-1952._pp._133-161
   
NOTE that I am to be published again in next years issue of Archaeology and Science. And that article is going to be a ground-breaker in the refinement of the decipherment of Linear B.
 
Another of my recent publications is, “The Role of Supersyllabograms in Mycenaean Linear B”, here:
https://linearbknossosmycenae.files.wordpress.com/2015/10/the-role-of-ssyls-in-mycenean-linear-b.pdf

4. ** We are setting up a new Premier Network of Classical Sites on the Internet, which for the time being is subsumed under the Category ** PARTNERS **, the very first Category at the top of the first page of our site:

https://linearbknossosmycenae.wordpress.com/

We are in full partnership with (Koryvantes) The Association of Historical Studies (Athens) http://www.koryvantes.org/en/
and with Sententiae Antiquae
https://sententiaeantiquae.com/

and with The Institute of Archaeology (Belgrade).

+ one other site. We have just begun establishing the Network and we hope to expand it to at least 25 sites in the next year.

We will be contacting scores of other invitees in the next few weeks.

PS could you add our site to your list of sites under Linear B, as Linear B, Knossos & Mycenae is one of the major Linear B sites on the Internet?

Thank  you

Richard Vallance Janke


Invitation to join The Premier Network of Major Classical Greek and Latin sites on the Internet:

Linear B, Knossos and Mycenae

Linear B, Knossos & MycenaeLINK

is spearheading a major initiative to bring together and co-ordinate a brand new  Premier Network of Major Classical Greek and Latin Sites on the Internet, which will be comprised of as many major Classical sites as we can reach in the next few months, in order to build a research network unlike any other yet seen on the Internet, apart from academia.edu itself. To date, our site and Koryvantes, the Association of Historical Studies

Koryvantes


Rita Robert's Blog LINK


Sententiae Antiquae

and a major European Institute of Archaeology, in anticipation of their acceptance of membership. Our strategy is to ask as many major Classical sites that we can reach ourselves to join in our new Network, and then in turn to appeal to those new members who have already joined up to contact other key sites with which they are closely linked or in partnership with.

Our eventual goal is to establish a new LINKS page on each of the participating sites to all other sites in the Network, which is to be multilingual, if at possible. Since LBK&M is a Canadian site, we hope to call our network:

The Premier Network of Major Classical Greek and Latin sites on the Internet = Le premier réseau des sites les plus importantes des études classiques grecques et latines.

And we are of course open to adding the title in other languages as well. 


The Famous “Dolphin Fresco” at Knossos on Papyrus! Minoan Literature? Did any Exist?

Click to ENLARGE

Replica of the Dolphin Fresco Knossos on papyrus

Here you see a magnificent reproduction of the famous “Dolphin Fresco” at Knossos reprinted on Papyrus, which I purchased for the astonishing price of 10 euros while I was visiting the site on May 2, 2012. The colours on this papyrus version are so vibrant no photograph can fully do justice to them. Nevertheless, the photo turned out wonderfully, and if you would like to use it yourself, please feel free to do so. I even framed it to enhance it.

Papyrus in Minoan/Mycenaean Crete?

The very idea of reprinting one of the amazing Knossos frescoes onto papyrus may seem blasphemous to some, but certainly not to me. It raises the very astute question: did the Minoans, writing in Linear A or in Linear B, ever produce any literature as such? Consent is almost unanimous on the Internet and in print – No! They did not write any literature. But not so fast! It strikes me as peculiar - indeed very peculiar – that a civilization as advanced and sophisticated as that of Knossos, in both the Minoan Linear A eras (Middle Minoan – early Late Minoan) and in the Mycenaean Linear B era (Late Minoan), may very well have had a literature of its own, for these reasons, if none other:

(a) Creation Myths:

Ancient Egypt, Babylon, Assyria, the Hittites and other proto-literate civilizations, at least had a religious literature, whether or not it was composed on papyrus (as with Egypt), here at Wikipedia:

The sun rises over the circular mound of creation as goddesses pour out the primeval waters around it

Egyptian Creation Myth Sunrise_at_Creation 

or on baked clay tablets, as with the Babylonians, here:

The Enûma_Eliš Epic (Creation Myth) ca. 1,000 lines long on 7 tablets: 

Enûma_Eliš Creation Myth

Proemium:

When on high the heaven had not been named,
Firm ground below had not been called by name,
When primordial Apsu, their begetter,
And Mummu-Tiamat, she who bore them all,
Their waters mingled as a single body,
No reed hut had sprung forth, no marshland had appeared,
None of the gods had been brought into being,
And none bore a name, and no destinies determined--
Then it was that the gods were formed in the midst of heaven.
Lahmu and Lahamu were brought forth, by name they were called.


the famous Sumerian Myth of Gilgamesh on 7 Tablets here:

Epic of Gilgamesh

and the Sumerian & Akkadian Myths, including that of Gilgamesh, here:

Akkadian Gilgamesh:

Akkadian cuneiform-gilgamesh

(b) The implications of the astounding achievements of the highly advanced Minoan Civilization for a putative literature of their own:

Just because the Minoans, writing in Linear A or in Linear B, left behind no literature as such on their administrative inventory tablets, does not necessarily mean that they never wrote any literature at all. That strikes me as bordering on nonsensical, since Knossos always had the closest economic and cultural ties with Egypt and with all of the other great civilizations contemporaneous with her. Egypt, above all, set great store on the inestimable value of Knossian, Minoan and Mycenaean artifacts such as gold, in which the Mycenaean artisans were especially gifted, lapis lazuli, of which the finest quality in the entire known world issued from Knossos; Minoan & Mycenaean pottery and wares, which again were of the most splendid designs; Minoan textiles and dyes, again the finest to be found, and on and on. In fact, the Minoans were rightly renowned as the among the very best dyers in the entire known world.

But why stop there? Why should such an obviously advanced civilization as the Minoan, with its understanding of the basic principles of hydraulics, quite beyond the ken of any other contemporary civilization, and with its utterly unique airy architecture, based on the the most elegant geometric principles, again quite unlike anything else to found in the then-known world, not have a literature of its own? To me, the idea seems almost preposterous.

(c) If the Minoans & Mycenaeans did write any literature, what medium would they most likely have used for it?

The question remains, if they did have a literature of their own, it too was most likely religious in nature. But on what medium would they have written it down? - certainly not on their minuscule tablets, as these were so tiny as to virtually exclude the composition of any religious literature such as that of the origin of mankind (very much in currency at that era in the other civilizations mentioned above). Again, the Minoan scribes writing in Linear B used their tiny tablets solely for ephemeral annual accounting and inventories. Still, I can hear some of you objecting, “But the Babylonians and other civilizations wrote down their creation myths on tablets!” Fair enough. Yet those tablets were larger, and they were deliberately baked to last as long as possible (and they have!), quite unlike the Minoan & Mycenaean ephemeral administrative tablets, which were never baked.  And, as if it isn’t obvious, one civilization is not necessary like another, not even in the same historical era. This is especially so when it comes to the Minoan civilization – and to a very large extent to its cousin, the Mycenaean, versus all others at the time, since clearly the socio-cultural, architectural and artistic defining characteristics of the former (Minoan/Mycenaean) were largely very much at odds with those of the latter, (Egypt, Babylon, Assyria etc.), much more ostentatious than the Minoans... except for one thing...

We are still left with the question of medium. If the Minoans, writing in Linear A and later in Linear B, did have a literature, and let us assume for the sake of argument that they did, which medium would they have used? Before I get right down to that, allow me to point out the Knossos was, as it were, the New York City of the Bronze Age, the metropolis at the very hub of all international trade and commerce on the Mediterranean Sea. All you need to do is look at any map of the Mediterranean, and you can see at a glance that Knossos was located smack dab in the centre of all trade routes to all other great civilizations of her day and age, as we quite clearly see on this composite map: Click to ENLARGE

Minoan Trade Routes 1600-1400 BCE

Is it any wonder that no-one was particularly bent on attacking her, or any other city on the island of Crete, such as Phaistos, since after all everyone everywhere strictly depended on Knossos as the very nexus of international trade? No wonder the city was never fortified. This pretty much how Knossos looked at her height: Click to ENLARGE

role-of-knossos-in-the-trojan-war-according-to-homer

No walls or fortifications of any kind in evidence! That alone is a very powerful indicator of the critical commercial value of Knossos as the very hub of international commerce in her era. But more than anywhere else, the archaeological evidence powerfully evinces a very close trade relationship between Knossos and Egypt, since Minoan jewelry, textiles, pottery and wares have shown up in considerable amounts – sometimes even hordes - in Egyptian archaeological sites. The Egyptians clearly placed extreme value on Minoan goods, as exquisitely crafted as they were. So what? - I hear you exclaim.

So what indeed. These major trading partners each must have had something to trade with the other that the other was in desperate need of. And in the case of Knossos and the Minoans, the Egyptian commodity they would probably have needed most of all would be, you have it, papyrus. The Cretan climate was not dry enough for them to produce it themselves. So they would have had to rely exclusively on Egypt for what was, after all, one of the most precious commodities of the entire Bronze Age.

If we accept this hypothesis – and I see no reason why we should not at least seriously entertain it – then the Minoans may very well have used papyrus and ink to record their religious literature. There is some evidence, however second-hand and circumstantial, that they may have composed religious texts, and possibly even a religious epic, on papyrus.

This evidence, although only secondary, if we are inclined to accept it as such – is the high incidence of the names of Minoan and Mycenaean deities and priestesses, and even of religious rites, on the Linear B accounting and inventory tablets from Pylos, over all other Minoan/Mycenaean sites. Why on earth even bother mentioning the names of so many gods so frequently on minuscule tablets otherwise dealing almost exclusively with anything as boring – yet naturally economically vital - as statistics and inventories of livestock, crops, military equipment, vases and pottery, and the like? There was nothing economically useful about religious rites or babbling on about deities. So why bother, unless it was a matter of real significance to the Minoans and Mycenaeans? But ostensibly, it was. Chuck economics, at least where religion is concerned, they apparently believed. This cannot come as any surprise in the ancient world, and of course, in the Bronze Age itself, where religions and superstitious beliefs were rampant, playing an enormous and absolutely essential rôle in virtually every civilization, every society, great or small. This composite of Minoan/Mycenaean deities, which were were found in droves on every single Minoan/Mycenaean site, makes this blatantly obvious: Click to ENLARGE 

Minoan goddesses TOP Mycenaean goddesses B

(d) The implications of a putative Minoan & Mycenaean military literature in The Catalogue of Ships in Book II of the Iliad: 
  
Given this scenario, I am seriously inclined to believe that not only did the Minoan and Mycenaean scribes writing in Linear B (leaving Minoan Linear A aside for the time being) keep track of religious rites, and possibly even compose a creation myth of their own on papyrus, but that they may very well have also written down a stripped down written version of their oral military epic, their own story of the Trojan War, and if so, the most accurate version of the events of that war. Their original history of the Trojan war would have almost certainly been much more factual than the version of The Catalogue of Ships in Book II of The Iliad, which must have been derived from it, had it existed. This would go a long way to explaining why the Greek of The Catalogue of Ships in Book II of The Iliad is written in the most archaic, and the most-Mycenaean like Greek in the entire Iliad – not to say that Mycenaean Greek does not appear elsewhere in both the Iliad and the Odyssey, because, surprise, surprise, it most certainly does.  

There is one passage in The Catalogue of Ships which really brings this sort of scenario to the fore. I refer specifically to lines 645-652, which read as follows in the original Greek and in my translation: Click to ENLARGE

Iliad II Catalogue of Ships Role of Knossos and Crete in the Trojan Wariliad-2-615-652 (1)

It is passingly strange that Homer bluntly states, in no uncertain terms, that Knossos and Crete were major contributors to the Achaean fleet in the Trojan War, since everyone these days, archaeologists and literati alike, assume without question that Knossos fell long before the Trojan War (ca. 1450-1425 BCE). So who is right?  Homer? - us? -anyone? How on earth can we resolve the blatant discrepancy? We cannot, nor shall we ever. But the fact remains that this extremely important passage in The Catalogue of Ships in Book II of The Iliad leaves me quite unsettled. Since Homer is obviously convinced that Knossos and some 100(!) Cretan cities did figure prominently in the Trojan War, where on earth did he get his information from? I for one believe it is quite conceivable that rewrites on papyrus of some Minoan documents from Knossos and possibly even Phaistos may still have been in existence when Homer wrote the Iliad, or that at least stories of their prior existence were still in circulation. If you think correlatively as I always do, this hypothesis cannot simply be dismissed out of hand.

For my in-depth discussion of this very important question, please refer to this post:

RipleyBelieveitorNot Knossos in the Trojan War

(e) If the Minoans and Mycenaeans wrote some sort of religious and/military literature of their own on papyrus, there is absolutely no evidence that they did! 

This leaves us with only one final consideration. If the Minoans and Mycenaeans actually did compose documents on papyrus, where are they all? The answer to that stares us in the face. While the scribes would have taken great pains to assiduously preserve documents on papyrus in dry storage while the city of Knossos was still flourishing, these same documents would all have rotted away entirely and in no time flat, once Knossos and the Minoan civilization had collapsed. Crete was not Egypt. Egypt’s climate was bone dry; the climate of Crete was, and still is, Mediterranean. Ergo, the whole argument against the Minoans and Mycenaeans ever having had a literature of their own, composed on papyrus scrolls is de natura sua tautological, as is the argument they did. 50/50. Take your choice. But since I am never one to leave no stone unturned, I much prefer the latter scenario.

NOTE: This post took me over 8 (!) hours to compile. So I would appreciate if at least some of you would tag it LIKE, comment on it, or better still, reblog it!
For all the intense work Rita and I put into this great blog of ours, it often shocks me that so few people seem to take much interest in some of our most compelling posts. I am merely letting you know how I feel. Thanks so much. 


Richard

  


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

Loeb_Classical_Library

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

Richard

Sappho, fragment 16


Amazing Sappho! Perhaps the greatest poetesses throughout history. I love reading her in Greek. I shall eventually be  translating a few of her lovely fragments into Linear B script.
Richard

SENTENTIAE ANTIQUAE

Some say a force of horsemen, some say infantry

and others say a fleet of ships is the loveliest

thing on the dark earth, but I say it is

the one you love

 

It is altogether simple to make this understood

since she whose beauty outmatched all,

Helen, left her husband

a most noble man

 

And went sailing to Troy

Without a thought for her child and dear parents

[Love] made her completely insane

And led her astray

 

This reminds me of absent Anactoria

 

I would rather watch her lovely walk

and see the shining light of her face

than Lydian chariots followed by

infantrymen in arms

Οἰ μὲν ἰππήων στρότον, οἰ δὲ πέσδων, οἰ δὲ νάων φαῖσ’ ἐπὶ γᾶν μέλαιναν ἔμμεναι κάλλιστον, ἐγὼ δὲ κῆν’ ὄτ- τω τις ἔραται πά]γχυ δ’ εὔμαρες σύνετον πόησαι πά]ντι τ[οῦ]τ’· ἀ γὰρ πολὺ περσκέθοισα κά]λλος ἀνθρώπων Ἐλένα [τὸ]ν ἄνδρα…

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