Added: August 15, 2009 – Last updated: January 2, 2016


Author: Jonathan Gottschall

Title: The Rape of Troy

Subtitle: Evolution, Violence, and the World of Homer

Place: Cambridge

Publisher: Cambridge University Press

Year: 2008

Pages: 236pp.

ISBN-10: 0521690471 – Find a Library: Wikipedia, WorldCat

ISBN-13: 9780521870382 (hbk.) – Find a Library: Wikipedia, WorldCat | ISBN-13: 9780521690478 (pbk.) – Find a Library: Wikipedia, WorldCat

Language: English

Keywords: Ancient History: Ancient Greece


Link: Google Books (Limited Preview)


Author: Jonathan Gottschall, Department of English, Washington & Jefferson CollegeAuthor's Personal Website, Wikipedia


  Acknowledgments (or, the fate of Thersites) (p. x)
  Introduction (p. 1)
  Chapter 1: Rebuilding Homer's Greece (p. 11)
    The Homeric question (p. 12)
    Analysts versus unitarians (p. 14)
    Milman Parry: The Darwin of oral literature (p. 15)
    Heinrich Schliemann's Mycenaean Homer (p. 19)
    Dark Age Greece (p. 22)
  Chapter 2: A short ethnography of Homeric society (p. 27)
    Tribes, chiefdoms, or kingdoms? (p. 29)
    Leadership (p. 31)
    Violence (p. 35)
  Chapter 3: Why do men fight? The evolutionary biology and anthropology of male violence (p. 40)
    The evolutionary biology of male violence (p. 43)
    "Women! Women! We fight over women!" (p. 51)
    An evolutionary perspective on Homeric conflict (p. 55)
  Chapter 4: What launched the 1,186 ships? (p. 57)
    Interpersonal conflict (p. 58)
    Agamemnon's "gift attack" (p. 61)
    Raiding for women in Homer (p. 67)
    Bastards (p. 70)
    The epic cycle and early Greek myth (p. 73)
    The Rape of Troy (p. 75)
  Chapter 5: Status warriors (p. 81)
    The Ravening belly (p. 89)
    Marriage (p. 92)
    Prudent boldness (p. 94)
  Chapter 6: Homeric women: re-imagining the fitness landscape (p. 100)
    Beauty is power (p. 103)
    Female choice (p. 108)
    Size matters (p. 112)
    Demonic males (p. 115)
  Chapter 7: Homer's missing daughters (p. 119)
    Male-biased sex ratios and violence (p. 121)
    Homeric polygyny (p. 124)
    Sex-ratio manipulation in Greek history (p. 126)
    Homer's missing daughters (p. 128)
    Differential paybacks (p. 129)
  Chapter 8: The Prisoner's Dilemma and the mystery of tragedy (p. 140)
    Homeric tragedy (p. 142)
    Why? (p. 150)
    Prisoner's dilemmas, vicious cycles, and tragedy (p. 151)
    The shadow of the future (p. 154)
    Equilibrium (p. 158)
  Conclusion: Between lions and men (p. 160)
  Appendix: Dating Homeric society (p. 166)
  Notes (p. 173)
  Works cited (p. 198)
  Index (p. 218)

Comment: Atytalla, John. »Dynamic Ecologies and the Biological Bases of Violence: A Critical Analysis of Jonathan Gottschall’s The Rape of TroyEutomia 1 (2014): 446-470.

Description: »Homer's epics reflect an eighth-century BCE world of warrior tribes that were fractured by constant strife; aside from its fantastic scale, nothing is exceptional about Troy’s conquest by the Greeks. Using a fascinating and innovative approach, Professor Gottschall analyses Homeric conflict from the perspective of modern evolutionary biology, attributing its intensity to a shortage of available young women. The warrior practice of taking enemy women as slaves and concubines meant that women were concentrated in the households of powerful men. In turn, this shortage drove men to compete fiercely over women: almost all the main conflicts of the Iliad and Odyssey can be traced back to disputes over women. The Rape of Troy integrates biological and humanistic understanding - biological theory is used to explore the ultimate sources of pitched Homeric conflict, and Homeric society is the subject of a bio-anthropological case study of why men fight.« (Source: Cambridge University Press)


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Wikipedia: Ancient history: Ancient Greece / Archaic Greece