withdrew from Cilicia, hardly before 640 BC (as Franz Dornseiff said in the introduction to M. Riemschneider’s magnificent Homer book, p. 10). However, the rapid spread of the epic was mainly due to its significance as a star-catalogue.
Homer is not a Grimm fairy-tale aunt who passes on traditional stories,
nor has he translated any poetry into written form that is already orally available.
Homer is also not the lonely genius who produces a great poem out of nothing. Rather, he has transferred the current story of the demise of a great culture that he wants to tell into the heroic Mycenaean early period in order to exaggerate and alienate it.
Homer is already what has been called a poet doctus
since Kallimachos (ca. 300 – 245 B.C.): a poet who shines with erudition (as the Assyrian author of the “Eighth Campaign” Sargon’s had before him).
The epic becomes an encyclopaedia of the knowledge of the time. Homer brings – just like Vergil later – a wealth of allusions to contemporary history (see Schrott) and to the works of the still essentially Assyrian literary canon into his epic.
Back to Schrott’s thesis about Homer as a cultural accountant:
Schrott is correct in his view that the Greeks of the 7th century are not yet a cultural nation that only want to enjoy Homer’s battle descriptions. That’s why he rightly mistrusts the idea of Homer as a poet of the spirit of beauty.
The question is: Why did the Greeks still love their Homer so hot and intimately from the very beginning? Only because of the prophecy of future Greek greatness?
towards the tricky acting Hera and her brave Greek fighters and thus sanctions the transition of the shifty moment of action in Cilicia from the Assyrians to the Cilician Greeks as divinely predetermined.
an inevitable fate brought about by the (star) gods. Homer designs his literary Troy after the Cilician Karatepe (Schrott), but his message is directed against Assur like that of the Israelite prophets.
into the mighty city of Troy. The Assyrian custom of abducting women as spoils of war becomes the abduction of Helena. The death of Sargon II in battle becomes the death of the Trojan hero Hector.
Sargon’s father and predecessor Tiglatpilesar III became the aged Trojan king Priamos. Sargon’s brother and predecessor, the short-ruling Salmanasser V, who turned Cilicia into an Assyrian province, became the unheroic Paris, which provided the reason for the war with the theft of Helena.
In the Iliad, Homer uses the ancient Troy tradition
to tell of the struggle of the contemporary free Greeks against the Assyrian great kings.
He dismisses the painting of the heroic struggle of the free Achaians and Danaer against a despotic power doomed to destruction.
Homer does not write a key novel, he is a poet who wants to entertain and finds his motifs in contemporary history.
So the roles are sometimes reversed, then the mighty Assyrians become mighty Greeks, the great armies of the Assyrians become great armies of the Danaans, the Karatepe, which is inferior to the Assyrians, becomes Troy, which is inferior to the Greeks.
into the Assyrian occupied Cilicia of the fateful year 705 B.C. In the long war between the Greeks of Cilicia and the Assyrian great power a turning point is foreseeable.
At the beginning of his campaign the great king still triumphs, but his days are numbered. The Iliad depicts the the previous events over several weeks of the devastating defeat and glorious death of the Assyrian king Sargon II (in the Iliad: the Trojan hero Hector), whose body remains unburied in the hands of his enemies.
Homer, the polyglot young Greek in the Assyrian office,
who read everything he could get his hands on, saw the beginning of the end of Assyrian power in the dishonourable death of Sargon II around 650 BC and in the religious self-doubts of the Assyrian elite.
More clairvoyantly than others he recognized the near end of Assyrian culture, later as an epicist he proclaimed the Greeks as the true heirs of Assur.