The Tomb of Agamemnon

The Tomb of Agamemnon

By (author) Cathy Gere

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Read the Bldg Blog interview with Mary Beard about the Wonders of the World series (Part I and Part II) Mycenae, the fabled city of Homer's King Agamemnon, still stands in a remote corner of mainland Greece. Revered in antiquity as the pagan world's most tangible connection to the heroes of the Trojan War, Mycenae leapt into the headlines in the late nineteenth century when Heinrich Schliemann announced that he had opened the Tomb of Agamemnon and found the body of the hero smothered in gold treasure. Now Mycenae is one of the most haunting and impressive archaeological sites in Europe, visited by hundreds of thousands of tourists every year. From Homer to Himmler, from Thucydides to Freud, Mycenae has occupied a singular place in the western imagination. As the backdrop to one of the most famous military campaigns of all time, Agamemnon's city has served for generation after generation as a symbol of the human appetite for war. As an archaeological site, it has given its name to the splendors of one of Europe's earliest civilizations: the Mycenaean Age. In this book, historian of science Cathy Gere tells the story of these extraordinary ruins--from the Cult of the Hero that sprung up in the shadow of the great burned walls in the eighth century bc, to the time after Schliemann's excavations when the Homeric warriors were resurrected to play their part in the political tragedies of the twentieth century.

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  • Hardback | 208 pages
  • 119.4 x 182.9 x 20.3mm | 249.47g
  • 27 Mar 2008
  • HARVARD UNIVERSITY PRESS
  • Cambridge, Mass
  • English
  • 0674021703
  • 9780674021709
  • 1,383,233

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Review quote

Gere's elegantly succinct and enlightening book in fact takes for its subject an assemblage of the iconic archaeological remains and their poetic archetypes or analogues: the Bronze Age citadel of Mycenae with its Lion Gate, cyclopean walls, palace, royal grave circle, nearby tholos tombs, and the spectacular grave goods on display in the National Museum at Athens. Whether or not any person called Agamemnon ever actually lived, died, and was buried in the citadel at Mycenae, these items of Greek cultural inheritance have always been inextricably bound up with his name. Gere reconstructs the history and significance of Mycenae in the literary and archaeological records and astutely examines why the place and its denizens have so gripped the collective consciousness of the West through the centuries...Gere concludes by asking "can we finally acknowledge the battle-scarred heroes of Mycenae without recruiting them to fight?" This delightful book goes far to answer that question in the affirmative by combining a crisp, yet nuanced portrayal of the "tomb of Agamemnon" and associated artifacts with an absorbing history of their reception through the ages.--James P. Holoka"Bryn Mawr Classical Review" (12/22/2006)

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