The Rape of Troy
Evolution, Violence, and the World of Homer
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|Other Information: ||1 b/w illus. 1 table|
|Published In: ||United Kingdom, 02 April 2008|
Homer's epics reflect an eighth-century BCE world of warrior tribes that were fractured by constant strife; aside from its fantastic scale, nothing is exceptional about Troy's conquest by the Greeks. Using a fascinating and innovative approach, Professor Gottschall analyses Homeric conflict from the perspective of modern evolutionary biology, attributing its intensity to a shortage of available young women. The warrior practice of taking enemy women as slaves and concubines meant that women were concentrated in the households of powerful men. In turn, this shortage drove men to compete fiercely over women: almost all the main conflicts of the Iliad and Odyssey can be traced back to disputes over women. The Rape of Troy integrates biological and humanistic understanding - biological theory is used to explore the ultimate sources of pitched Homeric conflict, and Homeric society is the subject of a bio-anthropological case study of why men fight.
Table of Contents
Introduction; 1. Rebuilding Homer's Greece; 2. A short ethnography of Homeric society; 3. Why do men fight? The evolutionary biology and anthropology of male violence; 4. What launched the 1,186 ships?; 5. Status warriors; 6. Homeric women: re-imagining the fitness landscape; 7. Homer's missing daughters; 8.The prisoner's dilemma and the mystery of tragedy; Conclusion: between lions and men.
About the Author
JONATHAN GOTTSCHALL is Adjunct Assistant Professor of English at Washington and Jefferson College. He co-edited (with David Sloan Wilson) The Literary Animal: Evolution and the Nature of Narrative (2005) and has published numerous articles seeking to bridge the humanities-sciences divide.
'Gottschall brings new evidence from anthropology and evolutionary biology to show how Homer's world fits a common pattern where too many young men and not enough women leads to big trouble; think of those who died at Troy, for Helen. This is a fine book in a vigorous style with a delightfully fresh take on an old story. The best book on Homer I've read in years.' Barry B. Powell, Halls-Bascom Professor of Classics Emeritus, University of Wisconsin-Madison 'Gottschall escorts us to the rich but sparsely inhabited borderland between anthropology, biology, and literary analysis, where he has found gold. The Rape of Troy is an original and important contribution to all three of these fields, and a very good read in addition.' Edward O. Wilson, University Research Professor Emeritus and Honorary Curator in Entomology, Harvard University 'A rare combination of literature and science, The Rape of Troy presents an innovative study of the world of Homer from the perspective of evolutionary theory. The results are striking, highly readable and guaranteed to provoke much thought on an always topical and urgent question:what are the causes of violence?' Hans van Wees, University College London
|Publisher: ||Cambridge University Press (Virtual Publishing)|