“What land, what people is this?” asks Odysseus when awakening on the sandy shore of his own land after been brought home by the Phaeacians. He does not recognize his land. And the goddess Athena, disguised as a young herdsman answers: “A fool art thou, stranger, or art come from far, if indeed thou askest of this land…. full many know it….the name of Ithaka has reached even to the land of Troy….”
How strange that, still, after 25 centuries we Westerners are uncertain about where Ithaka was.
This website started in 2015, is about my explorations for evidence that Homer (Homeros as the old Greeks named him) was right in his descriptions of the landscape in which his epics did play. It is a controversial topic, and already so since the heyday of the classic Greek civilization. I do not mean that all stories of Homeros have to be taken for literal, since the stories e.g. about Scylla and Charybdis, as well as the one about the Cyclops have a high level of encoding, as I see it. I have the idea however that I can show now that some of the places Homeros describes indeed can be found. What I found, is not situated in and near Greece. The method I use is, briefly described, that after having read the text by Homeros, I visit places where it was supposed by certain authors that e.g Ithaka and Scheria lie. Inspecting the landscape characteristics, Google earth images, maps, recent and old, and searching for possible changes in the landscape as documented, I gather the visible evidence as I perceive it. This is not something for armchair scholars, and you need to know about geology and topgraphical aspects. But it is open to anyone who is educated to the required level. What I found up to now is an astonishing amount of congruence between Homeros’ descriptions and the terrain characteristics.
The Atlantic Stage hypothesis article gives some ideas about the basic thoughts of these explorations, and the Scheria case is a report on the findings on Lanzarote island so far. An article about Ithaka was published, then Invasions, Ilion, and Homeros. A Spanish translation of the Ithaca paper was made because it tells about Andalusia, and help from the people there is one of my great wishes. The Scheria paper has also been translated in Spanish.
The speculative paper on Invasions, Ilion, and Homeros presents a new view on the period in which Homeros lived and Troy was destroyed. A new view because the use of iron came to Iberia several hundred years later than in the Aegean. And additionally, some information given by the Greek historian Thucydides about the time of the Trojan War is newly interpreted on this website. Thucydides to me seems to say that the war was only a couple of ages before his time. Troy VIIa at Hissarlik is in my opinion, not the indubitable anchorage it has been made by some researchers. Setting the Trojan war and Ithaka elsewhere, in the Atlantic zone, and in the 9th or even 8th century BC would remove a lot of controversies about e.g cultural and technical aspects in Homeros’ poems, such as burial practices, arms. and house design.
This collection of papers is not yet fitted together like a book usually is, and should be, and this is because many aspects of the work of Homeros still are unclear and even sometimes look contradictory to us. I would like to bring more coherence in my results in coming years, filling important gaps. Probably it is good to state here that I use only the content of the two epics ascribed to Homeros, and not the Cyclic Epics that admittedly are much related to the Iliad and Odyssey, but appear to be of another, lower, quality and even seem to come from a different culture. So I do follow the motto that it is best to “explain Homeros from Homeros”.
With all this, I hope to rehabilitate Homeros as a poet that was correct, not only in his descriptions of human psychology and behavior for sure but also in his tales about the landscape and locations he sang about.
I must admit now in 2017 that I have underrated the might of tradition as against new research results. Main argument is that Homeros must have been a Greek, as he was one of the fathers of Greek culture. When I point out that in that era not such a thing as Greece yet existed and that Homeros most likely was of foreign or at least unknown descent, not even an Hellenian, traditionalists give you a gloomy look that seems to promise an act of ostracizing. Also, locating the Homeric places in their own known (Mediterranean) context by the Ancients is not to be even disputed, it simply goes too far. Better say Homeros was a fancy poet. But I keep hope.
And why am I studying this subject?
My daughter-in-law, more up to date than I am, advised me to show more of myself on this website; certainly more than a stern passport photograph. So do I.
When a young man of 17, at Grammar School I did read Homeros, with an open-minded teacher preferring present-day language in translations. We enjoyed Homeros and the enchantment stayed lifelong. Since that time, during my study Forestry at the Wageningen University, and during my career as a research worker in the American tropical forests, followed by the job of assistant professor in silviculture in the Netherlands, I kept Homeros’ verses as a treasure in my heart. Now I am retired and have the time to let my trained sleuth off the lead. I have none or only a few preconceptions such as derived from traditional opinions about Homeros, and this leads me to unexpected places.
I may be contacted via my e-mail address: email@example.com
Revised November 2017