This lesson represents an overview on the problem of the use of the Iliad and Odyssey as historical sources. Obviously it is not possible to accept the Iliad as a true historical source for Trojan War, even the ancient Greek historians knew that Homer was writing fiction. The world in which the events depicted in the Homeric poems are ideally projected is Mycenaean, but nothing has a historical dimension, everything is out of time. Nevertheless, the excavations of the mound of Hissarlik definitively proved that there had been a Bronze Age city at the region that ancient geographers identified as the location of Troy. It means that there may have been a Troy, and it may have been destroyed by Mycenaeans, but Homer knew hardly anything about it. The societies described in Homer’s poems looked nothing like the highly bureaucratic city-states of the Bronze Age. Rather, they looked like the Greek societies of the 10th-8th Centuries BC, where towns were ruled by local strongmen. The Homeric poems seem to be originated by merging into one story of many traditions, originated in different times and places. Therefore, while admitting the existence of a historical core or several historical cores at the origin of the Homeric poems, it remains impossible to recognize it/them on the archaeological evidence, because of the process of distortion inherent in the poetic elaboration.
- Notes on the approach to the Iliad and the Odyssey as historical sources: