THE VENETI IN TROY
DO THE HOMER’S VENETI REFER IN FACT TO HITTITES?
The scorching question: Why is Homer’s monumental epic called Iliad and not “Troiad”?
“Everything was new, and postgraduate students were able to recognize possibilities, which the more steady workers (underlined and the next note L. V.: including Rees’s and Hawkings’ menthors, university professors) lacked the mental nimbleness to comprehend. It is important to note that the situation, barring one or two exceptions, remains unchanged to-this-day.” (From Stephen Hawkings’ foreword to Martin Reese’s Before the Beginning – Our Universe and Others, Simon & Schuster, 1997)
“We can speak neither of proper nor approximate balance. On the contrary, in the end we must pose questions concerning problems we will have to face: this is an obvious sign of the unending nature of this research, as holds true for all research. As far as Veneti language is concerned, its linguistic and geographic position will have to be revised strating at the point when the Illyiric concept was abandoned: above all the problem is that Noricum and Pannonia were not Gallic.” (A. L. Prosdocimi in La lingua venetica – PEL, p. 258)
Homer’s mention of (V)eneti in the Iliad:
“The Paphlagonians followed Pylaemenes,
shaggy, great-hearted, from the wild mule country
of the Eneti – men who held Cytorus
and Sesamus and had their famous homes
on the Partheniusriverbanks at Cromna,
Aegialus, and lofty Erythini.”
(Homer, Iliad, transl. R. Fitzgerald, B-II, l. 850-255, Oxford University Press, Oxford 1974, pp: 41, 42.)
The Iliad is about the conflict between the Greeks and the Hittites:
“... From the Bogazköy cuneiform writings it is possible to infer a strong Achaean state on continental Greece, the kings of which tried to assume power also over Asia Minor and thus came into conflict with the Hittites – c. 1200 BC – which supports the oral tradition mentioning the Achaean military campaign against Troy.”
(Forrer, in his foreword to A. Sovre’s, Iliada, Druzhba Sv. Mohorja, Ljubljana 1942, p. 13.)
The Trojan War can be viewed as one of the final conflicts immediately preceding the fall of the Hittite Empire...
“Antenor, the name of the hero who, with his sons and a part of the (V)Eneti tribe, settled the region north of the delta of the river Po (after the fall of Troy) and founded Padua, Patavium, is the synonym for ‘(V)Enet’...”
(Giuseppe Semerano, Le origini della cultura europea, Edit. L. S. Olschki, Firenze, 1984, str.810)
Troy or Ilion in Hittite is Vilusa, Vilius/Wilusiya = Wilusa = (W)ilios = (W)ilion = Ilion – Taruisa = Troia.
(J. Latacz in F. Starke, in J. Makkay, MAK p. 68 et. al.)
A long time ago, a tradition predating Homer relates that the Trojans were aided also by the (V)Eneti from Paphlagonia, a land by the black sea on the northern coast of Asia Minor. After the Greeks occupied Troy they burned it down and showed the Trojans no mercy; among those that succeeded in getting away there were remnants of the (V)Eneti who, lead by Antenor, reached the northern coast of the Adriatic Sea and founded their town-colonies there, the most noted of which is Padua. Irrespective of the mythical nature of this message the existence of the Adriatic Veneti is historically confirmed. Did they really come from Anatolia, Asia Minor? There is no doubt that Veneti were of Indo-European descent – and these Indo-Europeans had to have come from Anatolia! Hittites and other peoples there were Indo-European. Was it coincidence that the Veneti came to Veneto or did they know of this land beforehand? There are several indications and vast evidence that the peoples of the Black Sea and Anatolia were in close contact with Central Europe, Pannonia and Eastern Alps both by land and by sea as well as Danube and its tributaries (which is supported also by the Legend of the Argonauts). Therefore the Paphlagonian Veneti should have known of these parts beforehand and had probably set out in a direction and with an aim determined in advance – Veneto, seemingly because Veneti their relatives or even proto-ancestors inhabited it already. Unignorable research points to the possibility that Veneti stem from Pannonia (Devot, Oshtir et. al.). If Paphlagonian Veneti were to have conquered Veneto by the upper Adriatic Sea and permanently settle it, whom did they push out and how many of them had to have come in order to succeed in such an undertaking, a couple hundred, thousand, tens of thousands or even incredible hundreds of thousands?!
Any study of the Veneti must take into account the fact that there existed a series of historical peoples called Veneti (as well as peoples with similar names, where some argue that this is merely a case of various spellings of the same form, while others disagree and believe that it is a case of entirely different communities and peoples) spread among the far corners of Eurasian space. Let us merely enumerate them according to historical sources, for more detail see my other works: Jantarska pot, Davnina govori and Megalitski jeziki, as well as a plethora of other literature. (1) The closest and most well known to Slovenians were the Adriatic Veneti. Trojan allies, as is attested by many writers of Antiquity, who supposedly came in under the leadership of Antenor, after successfully escaping slaughter at the hands of the Greeks who have taken the city. They then inhabited the upper coast of the Adriatic Sea somewhere between the river Po and the Alps, their settlement extending as far inland as the lakes of Northern Italy including also a part of modern-day Western Slovenia. They are believed to have assimilated gradually after having been overrun by the Roman Empire. (2) No less noted are the Baltic Veneti, known by this name late into the middle ages and usually taken to be the same as Slavs. Their name is believed to have given rise to the current German, Austrian, Scandinavian and Hungarian word “Vend, Vindisch” et.sim. for Slavs, Slovene. (3) In antique sources there is also mention of the Balkan Veneti. (3) Less infamous are the Eneti from Armorica. In ancient times this was the name of the region next to the Bay of Biscay; among others mentioned also by Julius Caesar in his writings on the conquest of Western Europe. (5) Then there are the Pannonian Veneti. According to other historians and linguists it was they and not those from Troy who (partially?) settled the Adriatic coast as early as the second millennium BC (Devoto et.al.) (6) There are certain indications pointing to Veneti – Venetulani who supposedly lived in the countryside surrounding the ancient city of Rome. (7) Veneti based beneath the Caucasus mountain range. (8) And last but not least the afore mentioned Trojan allies – Homer’s (V)Eneti from Paphlagonia, the land on the coast of the Black Sea, in Asia Minor, modern-day Turkey. I have dealt with most of these in more detail in my previous books and do not wish to repeat myself except for the fact, that to this day there are strong controversies surrounding the question of the origin of the Veneti and their language, their relation to other Indo-European groups etc.
In the light of contemporary historiography’s theory of continuity stemming from its relative presupposition, the nations of today’s Europe inhabited their respective territories already in the Neolithic (late stone age), and the same goes off course for Slovenes who supposedly inhabited the entire Eastern Alps as far as today’s Switzerland, Danube and beyond. Additionally, the Ladini were supposed to be Italidi slavizzati, according to Mario Alinei, one of the founders of the theory of continuity (TC). And so it should come as no surprise that I joined in this opinion and treat the Veneti as direct ancestors of Slovenes.
However, if the theory of continuity is valid, many fundamental issues remain unresolved, among them the question: Whence do the Indo-Europeans stem? Over a dozen theories deal with their origin, including TC which builds on continuity, setting their European beginnings at a time of close commercial and cultural bilateral contacts with the region of the Fertile Crescent, i.e. Mesopotamia. Of course individual migrations as we know them today were entirely possible, but those of individual people or groups and not entire nations. The latter is wholly rejected by TC, the continuity theory.
Just recently both expert circles and the wider public were stirred by sensational discoveries which demand a new interpretation of the settling of Europe and especially the role of the Balkans and Central Europe (above all the wider area of the Pannonian stage) played in this process.
Firstly notable is “the Kokino megalithic observatory” discovered in 2003 in Macedonia. It is deemed to be the fourth oldest of its kind in the world, right after Abu Simbel in Egypt, Stonehenge in Britain and Angkor Wat in Cambodia. It is thought to have been built in the Neolithic period, at 1030 metres above sea level, on the Tativec Kamen summit near Kumanovo, which is roughly 30 km north-east of Skopje. Archaeological and astronomic analyses have shown that this point had been settled many times but that its base is a megalithic structure. Further excitement followed the discovery of special markings by means of which the astronomers of old denoted the movement of the Sun and Moon especially at the solstice and equinox and even Pleiades. Here offerings were given at times of harvest and other important events.
The Second newest discovery, again in the Balkans, is in the village of Dabeno, east of Sofia where several tombs belonging to an unknown but very rich over 4000 year-old civilisation were uncovered. Over 15.000 precious burial artefacts have been unearthed so far. This type of rich burial is not uncommon for the early Bronze Age, but this is the first of its kind found in the Balkans, thus becoming one of the world’s foremost archaeological finds. Since the excavations are recent, not all analyses have been performed and archaeologists can look forward to further splendid surprises.
The third sensation was unearthed in the summer of 2005. After three years of excavating in Eastern Germany [this area in the vicinity of Leipzig (Lipsko) and Dresden (Drazhdani), is populated by Lusatian Sorbs], Czech Republik, Slovakia and in the north of Austria, archaeologists found the oldest civilisation in Europe (as yet unnamed by the archaeologists). The civilisation dates back to the 5th millennium BC (making it 2000 years older than that of Ancient Egypt) and presents us with marvellous works of construction. The area in question is of Lusitan cultural prevalence, attributed to the Slavs by many scientists (as in my book Megalitski jeziki), containing roughly 150 large temples (several clay figurines, to which cult meaning can be attributed) constructed from wood and clay, 150 metres in diameter, built between 4800 and 4600 BC within the settlements of the time. Therefore they predate Stonehenge by circa 2000 years! Judging by these finds inhabitants lived in long narrow houses and mostly survived by means of husbandry. So far research has shown that people moved here from the area of modern-day Serbia in the Northern Balkans or, put another way, South-Eastern Pannonia and after two centuries (so it seems) returned to their original settlements– which is in itself a great mystery. All this has caused a great stir in the scientific community, for it seems that the belief that all culture originates in Mesopotamia will have to be altered.
In my opinion these discoveries place the Balkans and in fact entire Central Europe firmly among the candidates for the Proto-origin of Indo-Europeans and thus as we shall see, Slavs, and finally, the Veneti. According to existing theories it is not only the origin of Indo-Europeans that is now under scrutiny. The origin of other peoples has become uncertain as well, especially of Slavs as well as Greeks – how and when did they come to the Balkans? Since Anatolia is one of the main areas in the search for the origin of Indo-Europeans and since credible documents prove it was inhabited by Hittites, of whom it is also unclear when and how they came to Asia Minor (if they were not in fact, as Colin Renfew believes, always there), the question of the relation of Homer’s (V)Eneti from Paphlagonia to the Hittites who built their empire there, seems perfectly reasonable. And with this in mind it seems that the Trojan War was itself a crucial fight between the Hittites and Greeks for territories of Asia Minor.
In view of the (V)Eneti from Paphlagonia coming to the Trojans’ aid in their strife against the Greeks, it is a thrill to study the relations between the Hittites and their direct neighbours – the (V)Eneti of Paphlagonia, especially since the surviving (V)Eneti were to flee to the north of the Adriatic, lead by Antenor after the defeat and destruction of Troy. Did the Indo-European Veneti come to Anatolia from the Balkans as Hittites? This is what this book is about.
1. What does the Iliad and the excerpt on Paphlagonian (V)Eneti in Troy relate
Why do we start off with the Iliad?
The first mention of Heneti or Paphlagonian Veneti, as known by all ancient writers and modern researchers is to be found in Homer’s Iliad, which in spite of all critical readings does present a rather rich source of information of a world and occurrences from over three millennia ago. The Trojan War which is the object of the Iliad is deemed to have occurred circa 1200 BC.
But Homer is believed to have composed his work circa 400 years after the fact, at the earliest. Perhaps even later; that is after the 9th century BC. Attempts to place Homer in the time of the fatal events of Troy-Illion,-Vilusa (these are the names found in ancient documents), have next to no basis in modern historiography.
An important witness from antiquity is Herodotus, the father of historiography who lived in the 5th century BC; he also has been studied and his works critically observed down the centuries, so that we now possess good critical publications of his writings. It is now possible, to a large extent, to winnow chaff from grain. Herodotus’ legacy represents an important basis for the insight into the ancient world.
Strabonus can be viewed as a sort of a milestone denoting the next chapter in the development of historiography. He wrote roughly four centuries after Herodotus on the junction between BC and AD.
All these men were born in Asia Minor, by all accounts Homer as well, even though the location of his birth remains unknown. Some even believe him to be of Trojan decent.
Of course there are a number of other renowned names in addition to those mentioned above. All of them supplementing, corroborating, improving and also disagreeing with each other’s views. But no one can ignore Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey.
Homer’s Iliad is one of the greatest works humanity possesses. Like the Holly Bible, the Vedas, Mahabhharata, The Laws of Manu The Book of Puranas, Ramayana, Jataka Tales, Panchatantra, Zend-Avesta, The Shahnameh (litteraly Book of Kings), Rolls of Qumran, various Egyptian hieroglyphic inscriptions et.sim. it is a source of knowledge of the oldest times. Above all else the Iliad’s historical value is paired only by its artistic value. Its congruous and systematic composition points to a single author – a genius such as is born only once every couple of centuries – even though he may have been following older models. The doubts of whether or not such a man really existed have never really been entirely put to bed, but this will be a subject of an entirely specific chapter.
There are hundreds of papers on Iliad and on Homer, but at this juncture let it suffice for me to summarize what relates to our cause. The reader may further their knowledge with the Slovenian publication in the translation of Anton Sovre (HOM S) or in the Italian translation by Vincenzo Monti (HOM M) – both cited in the Bibliography. I have used both to a great extent. Of course there is a great deal more to be found in countless international publications.
Concerning the origin of “Greeks” (this term will also be examined further) I must immediately stress that there is a lot that has not been cleared up yet. The history taught in schools oversimplifies and thus disputably instructs that “Greeks” supposedly came to the Balkanian Peninsula circa 1500 BC and settled the regions of modern day Greece, the islands in the Aegean and Ionian sea, and the coast of Asia Minor. Also disputable is the teaching that the oldest culture born by “Greeks” is known as Mycenaean culture (1400 – 1100 BC). This culture was supposedly destroyed by the Dorians who came to Greece circa 1100 BC. Mycenaean Age is followed by Homerian or Heroic age (1100 – 500 BC), known only from Legends and Myths: the Iliad and the Odyssey, the myth of the Argonauts, various tales of heroes. All of the above is still the subject of detailed study and vast controversy and the disputes are continuously fuelled by ever new archaeological finds in Greece itself as well as in wider Eurasian space – resulting in ever new interpretations and fundamental theories. For the period after 500 BC there are fewer disputes, and there exists a greater amount of data and written source material and documents. By that time the lineage of ancient “Greeks” had become discontinued. A new slave-owning class society appears and several city-states (πολις) appear such as Athens, Sparta, Thebes, Corinth etc. which gradually grow to power.
There is no certainty whatsoever to the fact that they came in circa 1500 and least of all that the “they” in question were “Greeks”. There is also no concordance as to where they came from, or who and in what sequence it was that migrated. There is no less quarrelling about who was supposed to have lived in the Balkans, the Aegean and Asia Minor before the “Greeks”.
How does modern science view all of the above – the appearance of Greeks?
In the newest Italian History in sixteen volumes La Storia published in 2004 (STO 2, p. 54) there is mention of an ancient myth which attempts to explain the ethnic unity of Greek peoples, stemming from their forefather Hellen who had three sons: Aeolus (Aiolos) – the ancestor of Aeolians, Dorus who gave rise to the people of the Dorians, and Xuthus (Xouthos) the father of Ion, the founder of Ionians and Achaeus (Achaios) who gave rise to the Achaeans. The only thing that can be confirmed from this legend is the fact that pre-history knew four tribes; all the rest has been disproven by facts. Already the writers of Antiquity divided the dialects into three groups: Aeolian, Ionian and Dorian, while compressing the Achaians into smaller dispersed language islands in the North-Western Peloponnesus and Southern Thessaly. Further on we can read that Ionians were supposed to have been among the first to come to the Balkan Peninsula and the Peloponnesus already at the start of the second millennium BC, overflow it and partially mix with the local inhabitants – the Pelasgians. Archaeology uncovered that massive changes were occurring between 1600-1580 BC seemingly tied to the coming of the Achaeans and later Aeolians, denoting a time of assimilation and transformation that gave rise to the Mycenaean civilisation with its typical fortified settlements housing the king’s palace (vanax – king). This era also marks the beginning of Greek expansion into the Mediterranean. The final ethnic group to come to the Greek area between the 13th and 12th centuries BC, it seems, were the Dorians, in the frame of the extensive migration of peoples in the Eastern Mediterranean.
It seems that by the end of the 2nd millennium BC the Ionians were settled in Attica, Euboea, the Cyclades and the south-western coasts of Asia Minor. The Aeolians have occupied Thessaly, Boeotia and central Peloponnesus, and Arcadia. They have consolidated their presence in the islands and Lesbos, from where they too were able to reach the north-western coasts of Asia Minor.
Dorians appropriated Epirus, Aetolia, Phocis the larger part of Peloponnesus and advanced as far as Crete whence they also have reached the southern coasts of Asia Minor. This turn of events is reconstructed in keeping with the currently valid Theory of Migration.
Colin Renfrew (REN/A, p. 69 and further) has a different take on this burning question: Who were the Greeks? Ancient writers mentioned the migration of tribes in “Greece” which can be discerned also by dialects. Among these supposed migrations Dorians take the lead and battle their way south, later Ionians expand to the Islands. These were the general schemes that, in the past, dealt with Greeks as an Indo-European people migrating to the Balkans before 1000 BC. Schlieman’s discoveries in Troy and Mycenae already shook the historical community (even though rumours of the find being counterfeit continue to be popular with some). The dates did not fit. The finds were much older than anticipated from before 1600 BC. And thus the question of the origins of this civilisation as well as the question of how to tie it to the Greeks of the time after the so called “dark era” came to the forefront. It soon became apparent that Crete held the key to solving this mystery. The credit for this goes to Arthur Evans who began excavations and spent years researching the mysterious (relatively short) inscriptions on the tablets from Crete but also the mainland from the time preceding the classical Greek alphabet. Evans published his work on the Pictograms and pre-Phoenician writing in 1895 and went on to excavate in 1901. He soon came across the court’s archive of clay tablets, similar to those found in Mesopotamia. The writing was entirely different. To make things even more complicated the Evans’ Crete tablets contained at least three different types of script. It became obvious that soon after 2000 BC a pictograph script had developed now dubbed Cretan Hieroglyphs. Later, circa 1600 BC it was slowly replaced with another writing system, dubbed Linear-A script. Even though similar to the former, this script came across a similar fate; around 1450 BC Linear-B script replaced it. The latter was the script of the documents he had excavated at the very beginning. Honouring the legend of king Minos, ruler of Crete and his palace in Knossos, Evans dubbed this civilisation of Crete – the Minoan Civilisation. During later excavations on the continent Mycenae also yielded inscriptions in Minoan linear-B script but the largest find came to light in Pilos in Western Greece and dates to circa 1200 BC. The script contained eighty-seven symbols and was therefore not alphabetical nor did every word receive it’s own symbol, as is the case with Chinese sinography. Everything pointed to a syllabic script. The host of researchers did not succeed in unravelling the mystery of these writings. This splendid feat was finally accomplished by the architect and classical scholar Michael Ventris: he broke the code of Linear-B. But the biggest surprise was yet to follow. Ventris owed his success to the fact that he began studying the unintelligible writings from the vantage point of Greek. As it turned out a sort of ancient Greek was indeed utilised. At first some argued against it while others grabbed at the opportunity with enthusiasm and continued the work he had started; soon a noted pre-historian John Chadwick took a place at Evan’s side. This turn of events pointed to the conclusion that the Mycenaean civilisation was merely a continental variety of the Minoan civilisation from Crete. But how is it possible that Minoans and Mycenaeans both used the Greek language?
The answer lies perhaps in the writings in Linear-A used in the oldest palace on Crete and to a lesser extent also on the continent until as late as 1450 BC. Linear-A script was not intelligible through the use of Greek and remains unsolved to-this-day even though the symbols of the syllabic script are akin to those of Linear-B, in so far as the rough determination of the sounds they represent. However sounds deciphered in such a way are not intelligible in any known language. Some scholars, of which Cyrus Gordon deems special mention, believed that the Minoan language of Crete – the language written in Linear-B script, belongs among Semitic languages. But this venue has not yielded results yet either. Among various hypotheses some find credulity in the explanation that circa 1450 BC Crete was occupied by Mycenaeans from the continent who ruled from the palace in Knossos and adapted Linear-A script to their Mycenaean Greek – turning it into Linear-B, which then spread to the continent, resulting in the finds at Pilos.
All this carries important consequences for Indo-European studies; Mycenaeans spoke archaic Greek as early as 1400 BC, and so we know this language to have already been specific, formed and separated from the common Indo-European by that time.
Of course this does not answer the question which language written in Linear-A script was spoken in Crete before the arrival of Greek Mycenaeans. We also have no answer to the question which language was spoken by the mysterious Pelasgians, told by the Greeks themselves to have inhabited the same territories before them.
It needs to be said that Herodotus the father of historiography was the first to attempt historical, ethnographical and geographical research and introduced the method of autopsy or direct observation of towns, cities, monuments and events; he supplemented it with reports of other educated persons, travellers and witnesses to important occurrences which he then verified: However even he was unable to completely avoid errors and recapitulations of old myths and tales, while at the same time enjoying exaggerations especially where Greeks and Greek military successes were concerned. Despite his innovative approach he remained a product of his own time, explaining events through the will of the gods, but he did discern that which he had seen and experienced from that which he had merely heard tell of. And even when it comes to the latter he distinguished between first hand witnesses and those who had themselves only heard tell of the occurrences in question.
He was born in the second decade of the fifth century BC (the term – circa 484 BC is frequently used) in Halicarnassus, a city on the south-western coast of Asia Minor, at that time ruled by Persians. He left his native land after an unsuccessful insurrection in his hometown. At first he found refuge on the island of Samos but returned to Halicarnassus and took part in the expulsion of the tyrant Tugdamme – therefore he was strongly politically active. In the following years he travelled extensively and attained a vast amount of knowledge; it seems that he began performing and reciting his logoi. Already renowned he came to Athens which was at that time ruled by Pericles; there he found a friend in Sofocles who dedicated one of his elegies to the historian. His restless spirit then took him to the Athenian colony of Thurii, a polis in Calabria in the south of Italy founded by Pericles in 444 BC and Herodotus became its citizen. From there he returned to Athens just in time to witness the Peloponnesian War and write his life’s work The History of Greco-Persian Wars or The Histories, which remained unfinished. Most probably he died after 430 BC even though a more exact date of 425 is sometimes mentioned.
Alexandrian grammaticists have divided Herodotus’ Historiai (Histories) into nine books named after nine muses. The work starts off with a proemi depicting the purposes of research and relating old myths on animosities between Greeks and Barbaric peoples; it goes on to recount a general history beginning with the oldest adventures in the kingdom of Lydia. Then it tells of the great expansion of the Persian empire and comes to a halt at the Persian defeat at Mycale and the Greek occupation of Sestos in Hellespont in 478 (or 479) BC. And there in the footnotes to Sovre’s Slovenian translation of Herodotus’ Histories (HER I, 56, footnote), we read: “For Athenians were Pelasgians, as Herodotus reports, they liked to boast about this, especially to Spartans.”
Who were Pelasgians, that Athenians would boast about being them?
This is not an unimportant question. Attempted replies are plentiful. In general they were the proto-inhabitants of Hellas in the northwest of Thessaly. Pelasgians, Pelasgoi, are refered to by Strabo (XII, III, 5): “On the coast, following the one settled by Mariandyni all the way to river Parthenius stands the city of Tieiona, said to be inhabited by Cauconians (Kaukauni), called Scythians by others and others still think them Macedonians or even Pelasgians, these Cauconians have already been mentioned elsewhere.”
In his Rules of Battle after the verse: “Cromna, Aegialus, and lofty Erithini.” Callisthenes inserted the following: “Model son of Polycles lead Cauconians of noted land of river Partheinus.” (Iliad, II, l. 855 a-b).
Strabo also comments: “In fact, the territory extends from Heraclea and Mariandyni all the way to Leukosyri (White Syrians) whom we call Capadocians. But the tribe of Cauconians in the region of Tieium extends to river Parthenius, that of the Heneti who hold Cytorum by the side of Parthenius. Even at present some Caucones still live by Parthenius. (STRABO, XII, III, 5)
And again Strabo (XII, VIII, 4):
“Now it was particularly in the time of the Trojan War and after that time that invasions and migrations took place, since at the same time both the barbarians and the Greeks felt an impulse to acquire possession of the countries of others; but this was also the case before the Trojan War, for there existed then the tribe of the Pelasgians, as did those of the Cauconians and Leleges. And, as I have said before, they wandered in ancient times over many regions of Europe. These tribes the poet makes the allies of the Trojans, but not as coming from the opposite mainland.”
So, according to Strabo it was Pelasgians who came from Europe to help the Trojans and it was they who were inhabited the Aegean before the Greeks.
If these various suppositions are condensed we could conclude that Pelasgians were a very ancient non-Indo-European people occupying the larger part of the Mediterranean coast and perhaps even Europe. But this is not exactly the case. Let me quote Giuseppe Sergi who believed that Europe was populated by contemporary peoples from Africa in three waves: Iberians settling the Iberian peninsula via Northern Africa, Ligurians who came to Italy by sea, and Pelasgians coming to the Balkans via the Middle East and Anatolia; reminiscent of the latter is also the name of the Pelagonia Region (according to Semerano); at that time these territories were inhabited by the Neanderthals... The same scenario of ancient events is, at least in general, confirmed also by the geneticist Bryan Sykes (Sykes, B., The Seven Daughters of Eve: The Science That Reveals Our Genetic Ancestry, W.W. Norton, New York 2001.). By observing mitochondrial haplogroups he was able to follow the development of mankind following the female line and enumerate “seven groups of people”, symbolically carrying women’s names, these are the hypothetical successors of the “first woman” – Eve. By the end of the Palaeolithic period (roughly 45.000 – 40.000 years ago) there were these groups: “Velda” in the north of the Iberian Peninsula, in Basque country, “Helena” in the south-west of France, by the Mediterranean sea, “Tara” in Liguria, “Katrine” in today’s Western Slovenia, “Ursula”in the south of Greece, “Xenia” on the north side of the Caucasus and “Jasmine” by the upper stream of Eufrates river.
If we were to dub all these proto-Europans - Pelasgians then the prevailing opinion would have to be that Pelasgians inhabited all of Europe. On the other hand, if they are to form a rounded group of people then Pelasgians would have to be the descendants of “Ursula” in Greece.
It is of great importance in terms of our current train of thought that the territory of the Adriatic Veneti in Western Slovenia was inhabited by an individual group of the descendants of “Katrine”. At that time there was no Adriatic Sea, due to glacial freezing the sea level was so low that it only reached as far as the extreme south end of today’s Adriatic which is why the descendants of “Katrine” of the time were able to hunt and gather throughout a vast basin with projecting elevations which are today the islands of the Adriatic. Tens of thousands of years of relatively slow development and cohabitation with Neanderthals followed, concluding with the warming which ended the Ice Age roughly 10.000 years BC. The improvement of the living conditions that followed resulted in a fast-paced cultural development. These occurrences are far from explained, and the same goes for the Iron and Bronze Ages. One of the main reasons why the history of Greece is especially interesting is a relatively early development of a script presenting us with early documents.
According to Sovre both the Achaeans (Aeolians) as well as Ionians possessed a class of poets and singers called Aoides, who earned their living working for the Muse. Their golden age would be the 12th century BC which is around the time of the Trojan War, however we may choose to imagine it, be it as a single encounter or a lasting war for supremacy over Western Asia Minor. The events of the time supplied the poets with plenty of material for their heroic ballads which they then sung at receptions or feasts thrown by magnates, resulting in songs mostly on aristocrats. Kings and noblemen enjoyed hearing stories of heroic deeds performed by their ancestors almost as much as of their own, whether they be true or invented. The poets were skilled in coining verses accompanied by string instruments aiming to present as pleasant a sound for their audience as possible, for this would be the basis of the size of the reward the Aoides would receive afterwards. And this is why it is the opinion of the majority of researchers that these poems/songs do not stem from the people but rather from skilled individuals with specific training – making the poems artificial creations. From time to time an innovator would appear and stand before the audience not carrying a phorminx (a type of two-to-seven stringed intermediate between the lyre and kithara – translator’s note) but rather a stick, as was the custom for public speakers. Thenceforth they were called rhapsodes (the first half of the word consists of the root of the word rháptein-to sew together, rhapsodist was therefore one who could “stitch together” a poem). This opened the door to epic poetry; varied and condense poetic style based on musical accompaniment could now give rise to a grand, flowing epic style. As the Iliad gave rise to cyclical epic poetry, it is entirely possible that it was itself preceded by shorter epic narrative. Much has been lost to us through the centuries and no one can be certain that there were no extensive attempts before Homer, especially when taking into consideration the state of writing and copying of the time as well as the turbulent nature of the centuries that followed. Homeric scholarship surmises that at least two such shorter epic works served as a basis for the Iliad and Odyssey: “The Poem of the Wrath of Achilles” and “The Poem of the Return of Odysseus”; according to H. Rüter and a number of English Homeric scholars these two poems were created already in the 12th or 11th century BC inspired by the Trojan War. When the Dorian wave hit Hellas and put an end to Achaean supremacy the emigrants carried the poems to Asia Minor like a precious treasure which no enemy could pilfer because it was safely tucked away in the memory of the singer-poets. The Iliad may mark the dawn of Greek literature but it is not its beginning. Forged inthe age of ancient Greek poetry, roughly at the time when the Odyssey received its final shape, was the renowned Hymn to Apollo of Delphi, at one time even attributed to Homer himself. It mentions a blind man that resided on the rocky Ios and whose verses were and remain the most beautiful of all. This poem is the root of the belief that Homer was blind. Of course the story could also be alluding to Demodocus, Odyssey’s blind poet.
In any case the central question remains unanswered: Is the Iliad’s core based on any sort of historical fact?
Schliemann and Dörpfeld’s archaeological discoveries lend a certain basis for interpreting the Achaean heroic tale in the same way the entire ancient world up to Herodotus and Thucydides did, that is as a report of actual historic facts.
While on the subject of Thucydides – if Herodotus was “the father of historiography” then it was Thucydides who elevated history to its highest degree. It all went downhill from there, again. Circa 950 the Byzantine lexicographer Suidas was the first to draw attention to Thucydides and cited a few biographical facts: that he was born in the Attican village of Halimous, about an hour and a half’s walk from Athens circa 460 BC. His father Olorus was supposedly a descendant of the Thracian king Olorus while his mother was related to Miltiades the military chief. Therefore he was dynastically tied with the Athenian aristocracy and the kings of Thrace, where he owned goldmines. As Antiphon’s pupil he was schooled in the arts of the age of Pericles, while receiving a sophist sceptical outlook on the religious and mythological understanding of the world to which Herodotus fell prey, as well as critical distance towards tradition and authority. As a young boy he heard to Herodotus speak in Olympia and became so taken by him that he decided to follow in the footsteps of the great thinker. He achieved the height of his career during the 87th Olympic Games; he described the Peloponnesian War of 424 BC between the Peloponnesians and Athenians during which he was the admiral of the Athenian fleet off the coast of Thrace. However he was not a very successful one, the Athenians accused him of poor leadership and, in exile, sentenced him to death. He escaped this fate and suffered exile for twenty years making use of this time for the preparation of his most important work which ensured his place in the treasury of human culture: he wrote The Peloponnesian War which also exists in Slovenian in the translation of Janez Fashalek. Only after the Lacedaemonians – Spartans conquered Athens in 404 BC was he able to return home. He died in 411 BC before he could finish his great work. Even though he was Athenian, his writing was objective and balanced towards both protagonists and it was this very quality that made him exceptional for his time.
In the future we will be using his data to help us shed light on the occurrences in question.
Important among the sources are also Egyptian documents and especially Hittite cuneiform tablets discovered in Bogazköy that illuminated the history of the peoples inhabiting the Aegean in the 14th and 12th centuries. Reading these tablets is by no means an easy task. And so only a rare few have no doubt that the Hittite form of the name Ahhijawa denotes Achaeans and that Aharissijas was none other than Agamemnon’s father Atreus, described by these same tablets as an independent ruler alongside the kings of Egypt, Babylonia and Assyria. Later we shall see just how many uncertainties and doubts there remain. Advocates found their defence on the fact that Atreius’ honorary title kuri-wanas strongly resembles the epic koiranos “master, ruler”. Since he also ruled the islands Kos and Rhodos, these were, as the Iliad relates, among those which later contributed ships and crews to Agamemnon’s raid on Troy. Orientalist Forrer strongly believes that the Bogazköy Hittite cuneiform inscriptions point to a strong Achaean state within European Greece, the kings of which attempted to spread their power also over Asia Minor and thus came at odds with the Hittites. These occurrences took place circa 1200 BC, when the Hittite state was already in steep decline and all was aimed at reporting on the Achaean military campaign against Troy.
Lucijan Vuga (Solkan, 1939 – 2006), Slovenian writer, poet, dramaticis, publicist, cyberneticist, historian, master of sciences and a university lecturer, essayist of vast curiosity and an original researcher of prehistory of Slovenian identity. From an early age creative writer, he publishes his prose and poetical work in a variety of journals, his most impressive literary achievemnt is the thick “romacised chronicle” Hisha na meji (The House on the Border) (2003), an original look at the topos of living on the border between the Slavic and the Romance for the last two centuries; the other of his historical novels is Prah preteklosti (the Dust of the Past) (2006). Four of his books were also published within the scope of the electronic Library of the SRP Journal : Hisha na meji (2002), Megalitski jeziki (2004), Prah preteklosti (2005), Veneti v Troji (2006). The author of radio plays and the dramatic work Medeja (Revija SRP). Jantarska pot (2000), Davnina govori (2003), Megalitski jeziki (2004) in Veneti v Troji (2006) are a mighty literary “quadriga” – a result of “marginal”, silently persistent, scientifically rigorose and essayistically picturesque research of linguistic-archaeological traces of Slovenian (Slavic) continuity. (Editor’s note)
Translated from Slovenian by Jaka Jarc