How Historian Barry Strauss Treats Achilles

Topics: Iliad, Homer, Odyssey Pages: 3 (472 words) Published: September 24, 2010
Strauss, Barry “Achilles Bronze Age Warrior” in the Military History

Barry Strauss grew up in and around New York City. He received Bachelors,

Masters, and Doctoral degrees in history from Cornell and Yale Universities. He has

lived and studied in Greece, Germany, and Israel and has traveled extensively in Italy,

Turkey, Croatia, Cyprus, Jordan, and other countries with historic sites; he has

also taken part in archaeological excavations. He speaks and reads seven foreign

languages. Aside from a brief stint as a newspaper reporter, he has made his career as a

college teacher. Back at Cornell University, he is Professor of History and served as a

Director of the Peace Studies Program.

He boldly treats Achilles not as mythology or poetry but as history. To the epics of

Homer and other Greek sources, he adds a broad knowledge of the Bronze Age, of its

physical remains, and of written evidence from the Hittite and Egyptian archives. The

result is an exciting tale written in a lively style that brings Homer's heroes and the world

in which they lived to colorful life. He takes the story of the Trojan World

out of the literate Greek archaic age and places it in its context in the Bronze Age world

of Anatolia. He shows that Homer was in many areas recreating the ancient world even

when its mores conflicted with the world he knew. He also reminds us that Achilles

fighting in the Trojan War was over a woman seems a bit far fetched, but Strauss

explains that in the Bronze Age, personal causes were more valid than abstracts and,

the Greeks were much more than pirates or Vikings. Strauss reminds us that little has

changed in new warfare and that names and dates change but not combat its self .

He does pose the question a couple if times in the article if Achilles and the Trojan War even took place or if it did the times it took place. He makes a strong case and with

some facts to...
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