Many years after reading Homer’s Iliad, the opportunity to read its sequel, The Odyssey, arose when a fixed book was designated for a daughter’s studies for high school entrance exams. After some 2,700 years of praise from most of the world’s great authors and literary critics, the book needs no further criticism, but it cannot help but elicit some commentary on life as it was then and how it is now.

In evolutionary terms, 2,700 years is a negligibly small period of time. People in Homer’s world shared the same hopes and fears as modern people. They were intensely loyal to family and friends and hospitable to strangers who arrived in peace, but hostile and often violent to adversaries. As now, they suffered the domination of oligarchs and plutocrats, it was, after all, the Greeks who invented the terms, but some city-states were run by benign dictators, and the hero of Homer’s tale, Odysseus, and before him his father. , Laertes, had established such a reputation. The economy depended on slave labor, but unlike today, slaves were well treated, many serving their masters throughout their lives with great loyalty and affection from both sides.

The ancient Greeks started the process of scientific investigation of nature, but the benefits in terms of practical inventions mostly came after their time. Young people today may especially notice the absence of the internet, but instead, the ancient Greeks had gods that performed practically the same function. Like the Internet, the gods knew everything that was happening and had happened everywhere. They also knew what would happen in the future, although this information was more difficult to access; supplicants needed a special relationship with service providers. Odysseus enjoyed such a special relationship with the goddess Athena, daughter of Zeus, the King of the Gods.

Getting access to the gods was in many ways easier than accessing the Internet; no computer or mobile phone was needed. The only personal data required was the father’s name or sometimes the mother’s name or the name of a grandfather. No need to reveal email address, zip code, or phone number, and if a password was needed, it was part of a well-known enchantment, one that would likely never be forgotten. However, there was a need to make a holocaust, usually parts of a domestic animal with some barley flour and wine, and whenever this could be costly, especially if the horns of the victim were to be gilded with gold. Then, as now, anything was possible for those who had the means to pay.