What is aristocracy next to a title

Aristocracy: high lords and distinguished followers, ideas of war, honor and virtue, role and position of the Therapontes

Table of Contents

I. Introduction

II. Homer as a source

III. The nobility in the dark centuries
1. Concepts of virtue, honor and morality
2. Origin of the nobility and its composition
3. The power of the nobility
4. The term "basileus"

IV. The “Therapontes” system
1. The term "Therapontes"
2. Comparison with the paging system

V. "Achilles" and "Patroclus"
1. Origin of the "Patroclus"
2. Origin of "Achilles"
3. "Achilles" and "Patroclus" before Troy

VI. Summary

VII. Bibliography

I. Introduction:

Homer's epics tell us about a time that is otherwise only sparsely described. The Dark Ages are extremely poor in sources, since in the course of the great catastrophe that led to the fall of the Mycenaean culture, the knowledge of writing was largely lost. In his epics, Homer clearly focused on a social group, the nobility. The purpose of this work is to shed some light on this part of society. Who was the nobility composed of? Who belonged to the nobility and why? What ideas about virtue, honor and morality determined his thinking and acting? I will also go into the system of followers, the “Therapontes”. The characteristics of this system are first shown in a very general way and then specifically demonstrated again in Homer's work using the example of "Achilles" and "Patroclus".

I will also briefly discuss the authenticity of Homer's epics. In doing so, I will investigate whether, and if so, under what restrictions, they can be used as sources for the Dark Ages.

While looking through the literature I noticed that the Dark Centuries had only been sparsely worked on so far. Apart from the two epics of Homer, which must be viewed critically as sources of that time, there are no other sources. In the field of secondary literature, too, this area of ​​Greek history is only moderately covered, in contrast to later epochs, e.g. Hellenism. The existing literature is also not up-to-date.

Two works have been of great use to me, on the one hand the work of the British Oswyn Murray "The Early Greece" and on the other hand the work of

Austrian historian Fritz Gschnitzer

"Greek social history from the Mycenaean to the end of the classical period".

These two, in my opinion, very successful works became the basis of my work.

Finally, I would like to mention that this paper was written according to the rules of the old spelling.

II. Homer as a source:

In this section I would like to write down a few introductory thoughts as I feel it is appropriate to clarify the historical authenticity of the source.

Basically, orally transmitted epics are difficult to use as a source.

In Homer's work, the problem is compounded by the fact that he makes statements about a time that was long past when the work was written. Of course, this led to his statements being somewhat fictitious. Although he speaks of the use of the chariot, he does not seem to know exactly how it is used. This is explained by the fact that since the end of the Mycenaean period the chariot had disappeared as a military weapon. As a result, Homer could only speculate about its use. For him, the chariot is used as a means of transport to battle. The nobles fought as mounted infantry. The poet made a cross-section through time. According to the historian Oswyn Murray, Homer's statements have historical authenticity. But they apply more to the time the epics were written, probably the 8th century, than to the time the epic describes. Murray speaks of Homer projecting the institutions of his time back into the heroic age.[1] Fritz Gschnitzer also sees the epics as completely useless as sources for the Dark Age. He also sees in this only a reinterpretation of the existing conditions of the author's time.[2] Another problem can be seen in the fact that the work consists mainly of statements about the nobility. As a result, information about society as a whole is hardly or not at all. The window of vision that is opened to us is therefore very limited. Another deficit can be seen in the fact that the characters are often portrayed in an exaggerated manner in the course of heroization. As can be seen from these points, Homer appears to be a difficult source. But besides archeology it forms the only basis for statements about this time. Thus, his information must be checked critically, but we still have to use it for consideration.

III. The nobility in the dark centuries

III.1. Concepts of virtue, honor and morality:

"To always be the best and to be superior to others, and not to disgrace the fathers' gender."[3]

Is it written in the Iliad as the moral model of the nobility.

The ethics of the Greek nobility in the Dark Ages can best be characterized as the ethics of competition.[4] So it is not surprising that words like success and "ability" were key. A man's worth was shown by how good he was "in" or "at" something (e.g. in battle or in council). Basically, the following virtues distinguished the good man: firstly, he should have courage and martial skills and, secondly, he should also have rhetorical skills in order to be able to emphasize his position in the council.[5] An expressive passage in the Iliad describes Thoas, the son of Andraimon as one of the most distinguished men, because he combined the following qualities:

"... a knowledgeable hero with the javelin,

Even in standing combat, but defeated the speaker

Few, when Achaia's youths quarreled for their word ... "[6]

Another proof of the importance of these virtues is Achilles description of his uncomfortable situation caused by his reluctance:

"Such a man as none of the over-shielded Achaeans,

In battle, because other men defeat me in council ... "[7]

The “arete”, the “bestness” or “virtue” in the general sense was taken as the measure of all things. The “arete” was the model of the great, the glorious deed the highest goal and the authoritative model.[8] So it is not surprising that the term aristocracy, hence the rule of the best, is also derived from “arete”.


[1] Cf. Murray, Oswyn, Das early Greece, Munich, 1985, p. 49ff.

[2] Cf. Gschnitzer, Fritz, Greek social history from the Mycenaean to the end of the classical period, Wiesbaden, 1981, 27f.

[3] Iliad, translated by Johann Heinrich Voss, Leipzig, chap. VI, line 208f.

[4] See Murray, op. Cit., P. 70.

[5] See Gschnitzer, op. Cit., P. 46.

[6] Iliad, op. Cit., Chap. XV line 282ff.

[7] ibid. chap. XVIII 105f.

[8] See Gschnitzer, op. Cit., P.39.

End of the excerpt from 19 pages