Tag Archive: Odyssey

Linear A haiku: the hollow ships on the vermilion sea:

Linear A haiku hollow ships on the vermilion sea



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Table of Athematic Third Declension Nouns & Adjectives in “eu” in Mycenaean Linear B: Click to ENLARGE

Nouns & Adjectives in EU Athemtic Third Declension Mycenaean Greek Linear B

NOTE: this table took me 12 hours (!) to compile. I sincerely hope that some of our visitors will acknowledge this in some way or other, by tagging the post with LIKE,  assigning it the numbers of STARS they believe it merits, by re-blogging it, posting it on Facebook, tweeting it, posting it on Scoopit, whatever...  
Based on the template declension of the noun qasireu = “viceroy” in Mycenaean Linear B, itself derived in large part from extant archaic forms in The Catalogue of Ships of Book II of the Iliad by Homer, we have here all of the nouns, including proper, and adjectives I have been able to cull from various sources, all of which are referenced in the KEY at the top of the table.

There are a few items in particular we need to take into consideration:

(a) Apart from proper nouns, there are very few extant or derived nouns or adjectives in “eu” in Mycenaean Linear B;
(b) The astonishing thing about the extant proper nouns is that a considerable number of them are also found in The Catalogue of Ships of Book II of the Iliad, in the most archaic Greek, hence, the most reliable source for derived Mycenaean proper names. While some proper names which are found in the Linear B Lexicon by Chris Tselentis are not found in The Catalogue of Ships, they are nevertheless Homeric. When I say “Homeric”, I refer specifically to proper names solely from The Catalogue of Ships, as those which are found elsewhere in the Iliad or the Odyssey may not be authentic Mycenaean eponymns or names, unless of course they are replicated in The Catalogue of Ships. I am, in short, extremely reticent to accept proper names as Mycenaean, unless they occur in The Catalogue of Ships.
(c) On the other hand, the rest of the proper names found in this table may very well be, and some of them must be authentic Mycenaean proper names. Given this, it is quite probable that at least some of these names not to be found anywhere in Homer are nevertheless the names of original Mycenaean heroes and warriors, which might have been mentioned in an original Mycenaean epic of the Trojan War, almost certainly oral. It is absolutely critical in this scenario to underscore one point in particular: that if there ever did exist a Mycenaean epic upon which the Iliad was based, such a (stripped-down) epic could only have seeded The Catalogue of Ships, and no other part of the Iliad or Odyssey, since it is in The Catalogue of Ships alone that we find far and away the greatest number of occurrences of archaic Greek, and not in the remainder of the Iliad or the Odyssey. Some will of course argue that some archaic remnants still pop up here and there in the the remainder of the Iliad and Odyssey, but it is important to realize in this particular that Homer most likely – indeed, almost certainly – (unconsciously) carried over the habit of using bits and pieces of archaic Greek, much more common in The Catalogue of Ships, to the rest of the epic cycle.

In fact, there is real doubt that he ever did compose outright The Catalogue of Ships. Rather, it appears, he may very well have had access to an earlier, archaic epic, which had indeed been copied from its original Mycenaean template. He then in turn copied the whole thing lock-stock-and-barrel, embellishing it with his own peculiar style in so-called Epic Greek, as he went along. That seems the more likely scenario to me. At any rate, the more simplistic structure, and above all other considerations, the characteristically Mycenaean inventory have stamped themselves prominently on The Catalogue of Ships alone. If nothing else, there can be little or no doubt that the entire Catalogue of Ships (exclusive of the rest of Book II of the Iliad,  which was a later addition) was composed well before the rest of the Iliad, and long before the Odyssey.

So the question remains, Who were all those Mycenaean warriors? Which ones had Homer forgotten, or conveniently omitted from The Catalogue of Ships? One thing appears almost undeniable. The proper names we see in this table, which are not in The Catalogue of Ships, are very likely those of Mycenaean wanaka or kings, qasirewe or viceroys, heroes and other assorted warriors. Why they do not appear anywhere in the Iliad is beyond our reckoning. But they do appear on extant Mycenaean Linear B tablets, and this constitutes enough evidence for me that they were important figures to the Mycenaeans.


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KORYVANTES”, The Association of Historical Studies, is a Cultural Organization, researching and applying experimentally the Military Heritage of the Greeks from the Bronze Age to the late Byzantium.Koryvantes” has participated in Academic conferences of Experimental Archaeology (University of Warsaw 2011, Academy of Pultusk 2012, University of Belgrade 2012, Organization Exarc / Denmark 2013 ), while our studies have been published in academic literature (British Archaeology Report Series) and Special International Journals (Ancient Warfare Magazine ).Koryvates” has participated in International Archaeological Festivals (Biskupin / Poland 2011 , Lyon / France , 2012 ) and International Traditional Archery Festivals ( Istanbul 2013 Amasya 2013 , Biga 2013 , Kiev 2013) , presenting high quality shows to thousands of viewers.Koryvantes” has participated in major international TV Productions (History Channel, BBC2, BBC 4, ITV), on the thematics of warfare and culture of ancient Greece.

Since 2008, we have spearheaded research and the practical study of Greek Warfare at an international level, reconstructing and testing weapons, armour and fighting techniques of 3,300 years of Greek History.

The Major Concerns & Areas of Research of our Site are: Experimental Archaeology, Academic Research, MYCENAEAN EQUETA, Archaic Hoplite, Classical Hoplite, Byzantine Vandon, Traditional Archery, 33 Centuries of History (CAPS for MYCENAEAN EQUETA by Richard Vallance Janke) Click on this banner to visit ALL CATEGORIES:


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You may also visit KORYVANTES on Twitter here:

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and follow them if your are a student, researcher, professor or an aficionado of Mycenaean History and Linear B, Arcado-Cypriot Linear C, ancient Greek Military History, and Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey. I fully expect that KORYVANTES will be profoundly interested in my translation of the entire Catalogue of Ships, which I expect to finish by spring 2015.

KORYVANTES IS WITHOUT QUESTION THE MOST IMPORTANT PARTNER SITE LINEAR B, KNOSSOS & MYCENAE HAS EVER PARTNERED WITH! We shall be reblogging a great many posts from KORYVANTES, and we are certain that they shall be doing the same with many of ours.

English-Myceneaen Linear B & Arcado-Cypriot Linear C Greek Lexicon:

My research colleague, Rita Roberts and I, shall soon be compiling the first major LEXICON of our all-new, extremely comprehensive English-Mycenaean Linear B & Arcado-Cypriot Linear C Greek Lexicon which is to be published in its entirety sometime in 2018. When it is published, it will be by far the largest and most comprehensive Linear B & Linear C Lexicon on Mycenaean Linear B and the first ever on Arcado-Cypriot Linear C ever published.  Published FREE in PDF format, it is bound to at least double the currently attested (A) Mycenaean vocabulary of some 2,500 words, logograms and ideograms to at least twice that many attested (A) and derived (D) lexical entries, to at least 5,000, if not 6,000 – 7,000 words.

The Military section of this Lexicon is to be published first, meaning that KORYVANTES, The Association of Historical Studies, will benefit fully from the largest vocabulary of Mycenaean Linear B Military Terminology ever assembled online or in print. It will be published on its own sometime later this year as a prelude to our full lexicon, under the title, An English-Mycenaean Linear B/Mycenaean Linear B-English Lexicon of Military Terminology (PDF).      


Surprise, surprise! What rôle does Formulaic Language play in Linear B Tablets, and does it have anything to do with Homer’s archaic  Greek?  

Does that surprise you, if you are a Linear B translator? It surprised my translator colleague, Rita  Roberts, and myself, for quite some time – well over a year. But not any more. There are two inescapable reasons why we have been able to come to the conclusions we have reached. These are:
(a) that the Linear B scribes very frequently used what Rita and I call supersyllabograms, a term which describes a peculiar phenomenon common to only a subset of syllabograms which have defied decipherment for the past 63 years since 1952. We shall be deciphering almost all of the 31 supersyllabograms, a substantial subset of the full set of 61 syllabograms (over 50 %). Only a very few supersyllabograms still defy decipherment, at least for us, but someone in the near future may find the keys to even those ones. Enough of that for now. We will be publishing our complete peer-reviewed research paper later on this year. So folks will just have to wait.
(b) that the Linear B scribes very often left unsaid (i.e. omitted) from their tablets what was perfectly obvious to them (see my Comments on Knossos tablet M 10 E x 233 below for the full text), since they all assiduously followed the same strict guidelines for transcribing accounts and inventories, and all used the same formulaic language for their transcriptions. To visualize how all this directly influences Rita Roberts’ methodical and accurate translation of Knossos Tablet M 10 E x 233, click on this image of the tablet to ENLARGE it:

KN M 10 E x 233 fragmenrt  one Ram

From the red outline to the right, you can see that I have filled in the rest of the missing section of this Linear B tablet. I am confident that the tablet in its entirely did in fact look almost exactly as you see here, because there is only 1 ideogram (for ram) only partially missing, while the word, SURI on the second line is clearly the Mycenaean place name, SURIMO, or in Greek, Syrimos. Since this tablet is clearly all about an offering TO the god Dikataro (dative!) or Zeus, and no one in their right mind would sacrifice more than one ram or animal to any of the gods, livestock being indispensable to their livelihood, it follows that one ram and one ram only was sacrificed to the god. Ergo, there cannot possibly be much more on the truncated right side of this fragment than the outline in red I have tacked on to its end.      

Does Formulaic Language in Mycenaean Linear B Tablets Have Anything to do with Formulaic Archaic Greek in Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey?

Surprise, surprise. It does. And so does Arcado-Cypriot in its alphabet or in Linear C.

My Hypothesis runs as follows.

If this premise does not hold water for some translators of Linear B, recall that Homer also heavily relied on formulaic phrases. He appears to have picked up that habit, not only from the Mycenaean Greek scribes who preceded him by 400-600 years, but also from the Arcado-Cypriot scribes, who wrote in the Linear C syllabary and in the Arcado-Cypriot Greek alphabet at the very same time as he was composing the Iliad – a fact that all too many historians and linguists completely overlook. 

Recall that Linear C had already evolved from the almost exclusively accounting and inventorial syllabary (Linear B ) to a literary one, with many of their tablets simultaneously composed in both Linear C and in alphabetic Arcado-Cypriot Greek. The lengthy legal document, the famous Idalion tablet, ca. 400 BCE, was one such tablet, written in both Linear C and alphabetic Greek. But Linear C had been in constant use from ca. 1100 BCE (long before Homer!) non-stop all the way through to ca. 400 BCE, when the Arcado-Cypriots finally abandoned it in favour of the Greek alphabet alone. 

My point is simply this: I for one cannot believe that Homer was not even remotely familiar with documents in the Arcado-Cypriot alphabet or possibly even in Linear C, because there were plenty of them around at the time he wrote the Iliad and the Odyssey (if he did). So even if he was not at all familiar with Mycenaean Linear B, he certainly must have known about, and may very well have read documents in Arcado-Cypriot. But that is not all. In spite of the fact that he almost certainly did not know Linear B, being familiar as he most likely was with the vocabulary and grammar of Arcado-Cypriot meant that he automatically had some inkling of Mycenaean Greek. Why so? - simply because of all the ancient Greek dialects (archaic or not), no two were more closely related than Mycenaean and Arcado-Cypriot, not even Ionic and Attic Greek – not by a long shot. This alone implies that even if Homer consciously knew nothing about Mycenaean Greek, its vocabulary and grammar, unconsciously he did, because every time he borrowed formulaic language from Arcado-Cypriot, he was in effect borrowing almost exactly the same vocabulary and phrases from Mycenaean Greek.

But there is more – much more – to this than superficially meets the eye. Homer was in fact very familiar with Mycenaean society, and with Mycenaean warfare, because he mentions both so often in the Iliad, especially in The Catalogue of Ships in Book II, and even occasionally in the Odyssey, that is obvious to all but the most recalcitrant translators of ancient Greek that he frequently resorts to Mycenaean vocabulary, phrases and even grammar (especially for the genitive and dative cases), even if he is not conscious of it. It stares us in the face. To illustrate my point, allow me to draw your attention to the numerous instance Mycenaean & Arcado-Cypriot vocabulary and grammar in just one of the serial passages of Book II of the Iliad I have already meticulously translated into twenty-first century English. Click to ENLARGE:

Iliad II Catalogue of Ships 565-610 Linear B Linear C

Now if you compare my scholia on the word, thalassa, on line 614 with the Linear B tablet below from Knossos, you can instantly see they are one and the same word! Since Linear B had no L+vowel series of syllabograms, the scribes had to substitute the R+vowel syllabograms for Mycenaean words which would have otherwise begun with L. Also, Linear B never repeats consonants, as that is impossible in a syllabary. Similarly, Linear B was unable to distinguish between variants of consonants, such as we find T & TH in the Greek alphabet. So the Mycenaean tarasa is in fact equivalent to the Homeric thalassa, given that on Linear B fragment KN 201 X a 26:

Knossos fragment KN 201 X TARASA the SEA

t = th, r = l & s = ss, hence tarasa = thalassa, down to the last letter.  

Anyway, for the time being, I rest my case. But with respect to the relationship between formulaic language in Mycenaean Linear B and Arcado-Cypriot, whether in Linear C or alphabetic on the one hand, and Homer’s use of formulaic language on the other, there is more to come on our blog this year – much more. It is highly advisable for all of you who are experienced translators of either or both Mycenaean Linear B and Homeric Greek to read all of my translations in series of the entire Catalogue of Ships in Book II of the Iliad, wherein he uses the most archaic Greek in all of the Iliad. Otherwise, you may experience some difficulty following my thesis on formulaic language and the hypotheses upon which it is based.

As for the rest of you folks, who are not translators, but who frequently read the posts on our blog, just enjoy and assimilate the essentials, and forget the rest, because all of the technical stuff I delve so deeply into doesn’t matter anyway unless you are a translator. Still, you may be asking, why delve into so much detail in the first place? Great question. It is all for the benefit of our fellow translators and decipherers, to whom we absolutely must address so many of the posts on our pointedly technical blog. Nevertheless, our blog is open to all to enjoy and read, as far as each of you wishes to take yourself. As I said just now, keep what you like and leave the rest. You will always learn at least something truly valuable to yourself. Otherwise, why would you be a regular visitor to our blog in the first place?           

Keep posted.


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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