These lectures contain a good overview of the archaeological discoveries that provide information about the late bronze age when the events in The Iliad occurred. An analysis of the known data provides an fascinating view of political, technological and economic conditions at the time. Likewise, the events during the 500 year period when the story was being carried forward until the time of Homer when the story was written down also had their impact on the narrative of The Iliad. Another interesting issue discussed is how many of the details in The Iliad reflect the iron age technology of the time of Homer as opposed to the bronze age technology of the time of the Trojan War. Also, the discussion of the Epic Cycle is interesting. The Epic Cycle includes the parts of the story related to the Trojan War that are not contained in Homer's stories and have been preserved in fragmentary form through quotes by later writers.
The following are my musings and are not necessarily a review of the contents of the lectures:
It's interesting to note that the 500 years between the time of Homer and the Trojan War is considered by historians to be the Greek Dark Ages. That is because the fairly advanced late bronze age civilization described in The Iliad collapsed soon after the Trojan War. This can partly explain the motivation of the story tellers during the Greek Dark Ages for keeping alive the memories of a golden past. Homer's admiration of those past glorious times was probably similar to the enthusiasm of the Renaissance writers for the memories of the Roman Empire and ancient Greece. The two cases are different in that Homer and his scribe were putting their stories into writing for the first time, whereas the Renaissance writers were finding, saving and learning from old manuscripts. It's interesting to note how much of human history has been looking back in time to a golden age past as the source for wisdom. Since The Enlightenment the expectations have shifted toward looking to the future for increased knowledge and understanding. The recent global economic meltdown is a reminder how quickly things can change. Could we be witnessing the beginning of another dark age? We may be remembered in the future as the wise masters of a golden past era. Wow, and we didn't even know that we were that smart!