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The Tomb of Agamemnon

The Tomb of Agamemnon

Cathy Gere

ISBN 9780674063884

Publication date: 04/02/2012

Mycenae, the fabled city of Homer’s King Agamemnon, still stands in a remote corner of mainland Greece. Revered in antiquity as the pagan world’s most tangible connection to the heroes of the Trojan War, Mycenae leapt into the headlines in the late nineteenth century when Heinrich Schliemann announced that he had opened the Tomb of Agamemnon and found the body of the hero smothered in gold treasure. Now Mycenae is one of the most haunting and impressive archaeological sites in Europe, visited by hundreds of thousands of tourists every year.

From Homer to Himmler, from Thucydides to Freud, Mycenae has occupied a singular place in the western imagination. As the backdrop to one of the most famous military campaigns of all time, Agamemnon’s city has served for generation after generation as a symbol of the human appetite for war. As an archaeological site, it has given its name to the splendors of one of Europe’s earliest civilizations: the Mycenaean Age. In this book, historian of science Cathy Gere tells the story of these extraordinary ruins—from the Cult of the Hero that sprung up in the shadow of the great burned walls in the eighth century BC, to the time after Schliemann’s excavations when the Homeric warriors were resurrected to play their part in the political tragedies of the twentieth century.


  • Archaeologist Cathy Gere’s wonderful little history/guidebook, The Tomb of Agamemnon, is about a lot of things. It’s about how each new era bends the past to its own needs. It’s about what’s gained—and lost—when scientists displace passionate amateurs. It’s about the human desire to impose narrative, false if need be, on the mute relics of history. What Gere’s book isn’t about, strictly speaking, is the tomb of Agamemnon, because that doesn’t exist… Still, lots of historical icons are fictional…and Gere spends a hundred or so lively, thought-provoking pages describing the ‘highly productive career’ of this one… [A] real page-turner.

    —Joann C. Gutin, Newsday


  • Cathy Gere is Associate Professor of the History of Science at the University of California, San Diego.

Book Details

  • 208 pages
  • 4-1/2 x 7-1/4 inches
  • Harvard University Press