Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Fox, Robin. "Demonic Males and Missing Daughters." EVOLUTIONARY PSYCHOLOGY 6.3 (2008): 432-435.

Gottschall, Jonathan. The Rape of Troy: Evolution, Violence, and the World of Homer. Cambridge: CUP, 2007. Jonathan Gottschall, himself a Greek scholar and Homer expert, . . . has taken the trouble to learn the best of evolutionary theory and information and asked himself the question: can our knowledge of behavioral evolution inform our interpretation of Homer and archaic Greece? Not to explain away Homer at all, but to elucidate what is happening in the great epics. He asks the simple question: Why did the men in the Iliad and the Odyssey fight? What were they fighting about? The Trojan war was not typical of Greek fighting in the Dark Ages (12th and 13th centuries BC.) More usually "war" was raiding expeditions of one tribe against another. Huge armies engaged in 10-year sieges was exceptional, and while the Iliad may have been a literary fiction nevertheless it is an incomparable record of life and fighting at the time. Erick Havelock (Preface to Plato) called it, and its companion volume, a "tribal encyclopedia" and so it is. Gottschall mines it for information on the motives and methods of the Greek warriors in a tribal society (not a nation) addicted to conflict, not unlike the Vikings. What was the conflict about? . . . Read the whole review here:

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