To the ancient Greeks, the gods were as much a part of history as the men commanding armies, and the kings who declared war. Myth, legend, and history were all interchangeable ideas -- interchangeable truths. The gods lived and breathed and walked among their people, delivering very strange and indecipherable brands of justice. Men had incredible strength, and lived tragic, grief-stricken lives fighting against monsters, half-man and half-beast. There was romance, and adventure, and no dearth of impossible obstacles to be overcome, and we still tell those stories today. Some of us still want to believe they happened.
Archaeologists and historians still hope to find the proofs of Homer's epics. We comb through the ruins of Troy, hoping to find some evidence to match a war that lasted a decade, led by a coalition of kings and princes. We dig up the remains of palaces and name them for the heroes said to have hailed from the lands nearby. Because surely a story that has survived for so long, passed down from generation to generation, memorized and recited and learned again, must have some significance, some reality embedded in its heart.
Maybe we don't know exactly when these heroes lived, or where, or how. Maybe we'll never find any definitive proof outside of the myths we still have, passed down from one generation to the next. Maybe the most important part of it is isn't about the archaeological record at all. Maybe the most important part is simply that they lived -- and we still remember.
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