ABSTRACT

Odysseus, Achilles, Ajax, Agamemnon, Menelaus, Helen of Troy – their names resonate through history, legend and literature like the plucked strings of an ancient lyre. When he wrote their stories in the Iliad and the Odyssey, Homer called them Achaeans, Danaans or Argives. When we write about the historical or archaeological reality that lies behind them we call them Mycenaeans – but that name is a modern invention. Some Mycenaeans, such as Agamemnon, came from the city of Mycenae and were therefore Mycenaeans in both ancient and modern senses of the word, but others came from other bronze age cities. Menelaus came from Lakedaimon in Laconia, Nestor from Pylos in Messenia and Odysseus from Polis in Ithaca.1