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The Rape of Troy


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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.

Promotional Information

A highly innovative study analysing Homeric conflict from the perspective of modern evolutionary biology.

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

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