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Travelling Heroes: In the Epic Age of Homer
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Travelling Heroes: In the Epic Age of Homer

3.59 of 5 stars 3.59  ·  rating details  ·  123 ratings  ·  22 reviews
The myths of the ancient Greeks have inspired us for thousands of years. Where did the famous stories of the battles of their gods develop and spread across the world? The celebrated classicist Robin Lane Fox draws on a lifetime’s knowledge of the ancient world, and on his own travels, answering this question by pursuing it through the age of Homer. His acclaimed history e ...more
Paperback, 496 pages
Published March 9th 2010 by Vintage (first published April 7th 1999)
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Not only did I find Travelling Heroes incredibly dry and yes, occasionally boring, I also felt a bit misled by the description on the back and even the title. At first I thought that misstep was just me and maybe I got confused, but several other reviewers here mentioned the same thing, meaning it's clearly an issue and making me feel a lot better about slapping a rating on this one. References to Homer's epic works are scattered here and there among the pottery shards, but mostly this is about ...more
Cristobo De
Why only four stars out of five? Well, It is a hard read. Robin Lane Fox is really an accomplished scholar and he has a bad time trying to convey all his knowledge to us, laypeople. However, if you keep reading the reward is worth the effort.
It is amazing how far archeology has reached. This book actually manages to track and explain in detail the first migrations out of Greece after the dark centuries, some 2700 years ago, then explore the links between Greek, Anatolian and Middle Eastern myth
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Martin Glen
Just started this, after reading the author's history of Classical Greece and Rome (The Classical World: From Homer to Hadrian). The premise of the book is that the Greek Mediterranean diaspora in the early years of the first millenium BC created a unique medium for the development of the rich cultural legacy that followed. The problem with this eminently sensible idea is that the only non-archaeological evidence still around is either secondary or extremely fragmented. Still, this is Fox's driv ...more
Babak Fakhamzadeh
Excellent book where the author meanders around the 8th century BC Mediterranean, linking together the cultures prevalent at the time, using Homer's Iliad and Odyssey as a backdrop.

The author shows that the island of Euboea, roughly 'around the corner' from Athens, played a hugely important role in connecting the eastern with the western Mediterranean, during the 9th and 8th centuries BC, and that, during that period, a lot of the Greek mythology, stories of the gods and their companions, interm
The author begins with a simile from the Iliad (2.780-85) in which Homer compares the sound of advancing Greek troops to the sound of the earth beneath the "anger of Zeus who delights in thunder, whenever he lashes the ground around Typhoeus in Arima, where they say is Typhoeus' bed . . ." He then takes the reader on a tour of the eighth-century world of Greek "travelling heroes," during which he solves the Homeric reference with which he began by identifying Arima. Along the way, he teaches the ...more
Based on the description on the back of the book, I expected this to be a look at the historical basis for the Homeric myths. Instead, it's a look at the archeological and textual evidence for the trading routes and colonies of 8th century Greeks, principally Euboeans, and how their travels and interactions with other cultures may have influenced subsequent tellings of Greek myths. As such, it's okay (the prose is pretty dry), but many of the author's arguments seem to be based on speculation, a ...more
Those who want history (me) about the 8th Century from this book get what they want and those who are looking for a book about Homer's heroes' myths don't really get what they want. Most of us will probably agree that the title is deceiving.

The book is about the cultures surrounding Homer. It's mostly a factual examination of lives based on and definitely obscured by our limited ability to interpret limited evidence from Homer's possible time period.

Homer's stories were probably composed during
Interesting at times but often dull.
I just can't get too interested in pottery sherds...and there's a lot about pottery sherds.
To me he doesn't really prove what he sets out to...and the title of the book seems only partly relevant to the text, I'd hoped for more on Jason and Odysseus and less on Eubean and Phoenician pottery.
He starts with the question, well he eventually gets to it anyway: what was the noise that the Achean army made that sounded like Zeus beating the seven shades out of Typho
Stunningly erudite and well researched - including 90 pages of small-type notes and bibliography for 360 pages of text - this is a dense and scholarly work masquerading as a book for the general reader. I do not often feel stupid and overwhelmed when reading history, but I occasionally did with this book. It's written in a casually fluent sort of tone that only an Oxford don could pull off. Because the subject matter is mostly the 8th century BC, and it relies mostly on (by necessity) spotty and ...more
I read this as a commentary to Homer and Hesiod, but it is so much more than that.

Fox has an interesting thesis that he presents in an engaging manner.

This is not a simple read. It is not a book to be skimmed. I found myself having to re-read passages, not from clumsy authorship, but because the threads are tightly knitted and require one to really mull them over.

The mix of anecdote, the consideration of the topic from multiple angles, make this a worthy read.

Among the more valuable points made
I liked this but I felt at times it became a little tedious.Robin Lane Fox explores questions ranging from the origins of Greek gods to the spread of the classical culture in the Mediterranean world.He uses archaeology,places,objects,language,local stories and Homer to explain how these ancient peoples interpreted and saw their environment.Some of his conclusions I found myself disagreeing with however for the most part I found this a very interesting and revealing account of how this ancient so ...more
Interesting book on the period known as the Greek dark ages between the fall of the Mycenaean palace period and the Classic age of Greece.

Lane fox's central theme is that the Greek myths as told by Hesiod and Homer had there origins in a diaspora of Greek merchants, sailors and soldiers from Euboea both east to Turkish/ Levant coast and west to Sicily and Italy. In both locations they found geographical locations, tales and artefacts which they recognised as analogous to their own tales and myt
John Gordon
I commenced this book with anticipation and high hopes but was unfortunately disappointed. The author weaves archeological, written and phonetic evidence together to understand the geographical origins of the myths of Homer and his time. The complexity of the archeological puzzle of the ancient times is incredible and the author is obviously very knowledgable on the subject.
Despite some interesting moments the reading was generally rather dry and heavy making the book a struggle to complete.
Margaret Sankey
From one of my favorite classicists, archeological and textual evidence for widespread contact between Mediterranean peoples, as seen in artistic works, mythology, religious practice and shared memories of natural disasters, "monsters" and political events
The concept is interesting, but the book is a little dull. There really isn't anything too new in the book. It provides good background and some interesting theories, but it :shrugs:. It's not the thriller the cover advertises.
I just couldn't finish this book. The detailed descriptions of ancient archaelogical finds bogged down the whole book. I gave up about halfway, which I usually don't do. But so many other books are calling...
Read this over Christmas break. It is essentially Fox's attempt to find some of the origins of what we call ancient Greek culture, particularly myth. Fascinating
Follow the potsherds and reminisce about that historiography seminar in grad skool.
David Edmonds
I'm afraid I found it quite hard going and didn't make it to the very end ...
Dec 06, 2008 Philip marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Recommended by Tom Holland on the TLS website.
Dec 22, 2008 Susan marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: greek-and-latin
TLS book of the year
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Robin Lane Fox (born 1946) is an English historian, currently a Fellow of New College, Oxford and University of Oxford Reader in Ancient History.

Lane Fox was educated at Eton and Magdalen College, Oxford.

Since 1977, he has been a tutor in Greek and Roman history, and since 1990 University Reader in Ancient History. He has also taught Greek and Latin literature and early Islamic history, a subject
More about Robin Lane Fox...
Alexander the Great The Classical World: An Epic History from Homer to Hadrian Pagans and Christians The Unauthorized Version: Truth and Fiction in the Bible The Search for Alexander

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“Their (the Greeks)encounters with foreign were not coloured by the belief that such people's religion was false and inferior, the belief that thinges Christians, Muslims, Hindus or atheist nowadays” 1 likes
“I wish I was here, or I wish I was there...' In our age of global travel we are all potential heirs to the simile of Hera's flight.” 0 likes
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