Excursion to Lanzarote to seek for Scheria, the island of the Phaeacians
Abstract: The allocation of places that Homeros describes in his epics has been under discussion since Antiquity. One hypothesis, viz that the Homeric scenes play in an “Atlantic Stage”, is elaborated in this essay, inspecting and discussing the possibility that Lanzarote is the island of the Phaeacians, where Odysseus arrives near the end of his twenty-year absence from home. Some 29 photographs and figures are given to elucidate the discourse.
The case of Scheria, the island of the Phaeacians
An interesting and highly enchanting tale of Homeros is the visit of Odysseus to Scheria, the island of the Phaeacians. It has generally been understood to be a fairy tale, about a society that is not real. Quite some geographical details are given by Homeros about the island, and during my two visits to the island, as well as looking at the images on Google Earth, I saw so much similarity with what the poet describes us that I decided to write about it and bring it to the public. Gideon already goes into much detail on this Scheria/Lanzarote but he seems not to have visited it, which makes all the difference for a good judgment. The scenery discussed here starts in book V.
I will discuss the various descriptions of the conditions and topography as presented by Homeros, with sometimes my comments on the usual translations of the text which I not always can agree with, and I will give photographs. An extensive use is made of Google Earth, that most valuable tool for a person that can combine satellite images and ground truth.
How Odysseus came to Scheria
Scheria is far away from other people says Homeros. Thus it cannot be Corfu, which lies so near to the coast that one may swim the distance. Gideon and Wilkins identify it with one of the Canary Islands, Lanzarote to wit. These islands were known to Strabo, the Greek geographer, as the “Makaron nesoi”, the Blessed Islands, and the Romans named them the Fortunati. They were far away, seldom visited by ships. Odysseus travels by raft from Calypso’s island (San Miguel, Azores, as supposed by Gideon) during 17 days. I assume a speed of not more than 3 km/h, even when indeed the Canary Stream, a part of the Gulf Stream (see Fig. 1.) helps his progress towards the east (he keeps Ursa Major at his left). This is some 1500 km.
Fig 1. Okeanos’ currents
Then he perceives from afar some island’s profile, which profile Homeros decribes as a “rhinos”( ͑ρινος), usually translated as shield, but which should be taken as rawhide (not leather of course, see Figs 2 and 3). Such hides were indeed used by soldiers that could not afford a well-made shield, as raw hide is difficult to penetrate and relatively light in weight. It is however vulnerable to humidity, one of the reasons that the Germans (at least in the time of the Romans) used wooden shields in their rainy territories. When seeing the many volcanic mountains of Lanzarote with their truncated cones, the comparison with (the upper half of) a drying skin of an ox nailed to a wall was an inviting idea. The international symbol for leather complies with this (Fig. 3). The two mountains it concerns are in my opinion the Monte Corona, about 590 m high, and Los Helechos, about 570 m high (and paired with La Quemada, 562 m), which thus rise some 100 to 200 m above the 400 to 500 m high cliffs of El Risco de Famara.
Fig. 2. As a hide
Fig, 3. Symbol for true leather
I give photographs of Monte Corona in Figs 4 and 5. I could not make a trip on sea to see the profile from afar myself but had to be content with a view from La Graciosa (see the map of Lanzarote) on the Famara cliff, which showed Monte Corona peeping above the edge, with Los Helechos not discernible on this close distance.
Fig. 4. Monte Corona
Fig. 5. View from La Graciosa
Poseidon destroys his raft and makes him nearly drown, but finally, after two days floating about, Odysseus reaches the island, probably the northern coast, where he sees “dry (ξερος) land with huge waves breaking on it” (V 402), even while the sea has become calm. The ocean swell still is active. He tries to land, but cannot, because of the rocks, and then he perceives a stream while swimming parallel to the coast. Homeros calls it a “salty stream” (potamos halimurienta, ποταμος άλιμυρηεντα, Odyssey V 460). Odysseus enters the mouth of this stream, that starts between Graciosa and Riscos de Famara and in its outlet, some kilometres farther, he finds a smooth sandy beach with a lessened dash of the waves.
Now there is no permanent river at the northern coast of Lanzarote, but to my astonishment I saw on a locally bought map that the strait between La Graciosa and Lanzarote is called El Rio, the river. A captain of the local excursion steamer assured me that the stream rightly deserves the name of river, esp. when Northern winds push the sea into the strait. There even may be seen eddies, but more about this below. Fig. 6 gives a detail of the map. The beach is quite popular today, both with bathers and surfers. I present the routes that Odysseus had to follow on the Google image in Fig. 9.
Fig. 6. Map with El Rio
Odysseus stumbles out of the water, drops in the beach vegetation, and seeks for better shelter, naked as he is, from the sea wind. The litttle dunes present do not give enough shelter. He sees in some distance a grove (in what is clearly a stark landscape) which grove looks suitable to sleep in. This type of grove is still found at places in the Famara beach landscape, a good candidate would be the actual garden of Casas de Famara, where a permanent source provides water for such a vegetation since millennia. Fig. 8 shows the location of the named garden, and Fig. 7 shows how this is seen from the beach. The coastal line may have changed a bit during the ages. One can imagine how in the further course of the story a man descending from this slope may look like a “mountain-nurtured lion going for prey” (VI 130) when seen in the first hundred metres of his course. The grove lies in an open landscape says Homeros (V 476), see Fig. 11. There is a lot of leaves (litter) under the brushwood, see Figs 9 and 10, and Odysseus is very happy with it. Another location of the grove may have been where now is found the bungalow park Urbanización Famara. Odysseus sleeps a full night and most of the next day.
Fig. 7. A grove at some distance (don’t mistake the distant grove for the nearby small dunes)
Fig. 8. A grove at some 600 m distance from the shoreline
Fig. 9. A thick grove
Fig.11. And a view all around
Fig. 12. Wash basins with a view on the sea
Odysseus received by a princess
Then the young girl Nausikaa enters the story, in book VI. She wants to wash the (many) clothes of her family, and presumably there is at quite some distance from town a good location to do the laundry, with plenty of fresh water. The town itself has a somewhat scanty water supply, later described in book VII. Nausikaa needs a mule waggon, on which to transport the clothes and her companions. The distance from the harbour and city (the actual name is Arrecife) to a good source, which is near Famara cliffs, is about 18 km, over easy terrain. That is for modern standards quite far, as it is more than three hours of stiff walking, but for a recreation trip, which it clearly is because a picnic is part of it, this is not too far.
Fig. 13. Another set of basins
Fig. 14. Cobblestones on the beach
Nausikaa reaches the washbasins near the “salty stream”, where much fresh water wells up. This could be on the northern part of Las Laderas, where still a lot of water is pumped up actually, even to be piped to Arrecife, 18 km away. This water seeps from the aquifers that are fed by the rain coming down on the windward slope of the Risco de Famara. This is the most rainy place on Lanzarote. There actually still are (now dry) washbasins there, see Fig. 12 and Fig. 13. They do not look older than the time since concrete was available, and I do not have the illusion they date from the Bronze Age. Other such, and even older, basins might be found in the neighbourhood. The mules have to seek honeysweet fodder along the stream (VI 90) and I think there is some choice from the local flora, e.g. Atriplex spp, or Zygophyllum spp (Uva de Mar), and Lotus lanzarotensis. The name Agrostis spp rises to the mind when reading VI 90, but it is not given in booklets on local vegetation, and the vegetation in this area has been overgrazed for milennia. There may have been a streamlet, more or less permanently flowing from the area where the basins were/are, but nowadays all is very dry. To call this a “potamos” is not quite fitting.
The laundered clothes then are spread on the salty (VI 94) beach, where the sea had cleanwashed the stones. See Fig. 14. These stone lines can also be seen on the image presented in Fig. 8. It is already late in the afternoon, and Nausikaa prepares for leaving, to be home before dark. But they still are playing with a ball (see also description in VIII 370-380), and the ball gets lost in the water. Homeros speaks of “a deep rolling breaker” (βαθείͅη δίνη) in which their ball falls (which traditionally is translated as “in a deep eddy”, but see remark 3/). This makes them yell loudly, and the sound wakes Odysseus (at about 600 m distance, where he lay in the grove). At such a distance a loud yelling may be well heard, the more so as the wind is locally nearly always blowing from the North-west. Odysseus may have been semi-dozing after such a long sleep. He presumes the location is uninhabited so thinks at first of nymphs/ goddesses practising some ritual. Remember that in ritual slaughter of cattle it was the custom for women to yell (III 450).
He rises from the thicket and enters the group of girls, appearing first as a lion (VI 130), when still far away, and then, at close distance, a monster with his soiled naked skin, full of seafoam dirt and leaves stuck on it. The girls are scared and shatter in all directions, taking shelter behind what Homeros calls “extensions of the beach” (̓ηιονας προυχουσας, VI 138). I do translate that as (little) sanddunes, and these abound on the spot. See Fig. 15. (The translation of Murray (1919) calls them sand-spits. I wonder how to hide behind those.) Only Nausikaa, the king’s daughter, stands firm, facing the monster. To her then Odysseus makes a wonderful and very courteous speech, which proves he is of high birth and a man of great psychological empathy. He is welcomed as a suppliant, and she stresses to her maidens that Scheria, the island of the Phaeacians, is far from other men’s dwellings, and that the Phaeacians are favoured by the gods. No fear for evil-doing mortals. She orders her girls to bathe Odysseus in the stream, but he declines. He goes back to the (salty) stream again, washes himself and then dries himself, sheltered from the wind behind a dune. Sea water is not a bad choice for bathing, and many modern people add salts to their baths. Well clothed he becomes an attractive man. He then sits down a while, far from the group. Nausikaa sees his beauty and talks to her girls about his attractivity. Reading this it became clear to me that Odysseus must for a while recuperate from the shock of being rescued and returned to mankind in such a lovely way.
Fig. 15. Sand spits? ? Dunes, of course!
Odysseus arrives in the town and palace of Alkinoos
The group departs quite soon after this, for the long walk. The servants now must walk with Odysseus, as Nausikaa probably feels he should not be invited to sit with her on the waggon. The route is easy to imagine when inspecting the map of Lanzarote in Fig. 16. It must have gone from the Playa de Famara, via El Jable plain to Arrecife. Also see the Google image in Fig. 17. On this trip the layout of the harbour of the Phaeacians is described by Nausikaa in her instructions to Odysseus how to wait and behave later. The town has two harbours, and lies inbetween them (Fig. 18 and 19). Harbour entrance is narrow (Fig. 20, a modern road was made south of this ) and the city has an internal haven front where all ship owners can have their ship in front of the house. This fits the Charco de San Ginés in Arrecife (Fig. 21). It falls dry partly during low tide, and is only fit for relatively small boats without deep keels.
I presume Alkinoos’ city had a single gate, the road (for pedestrians mainly) leading over the bridged harbour entrance, for simplicity and strength of defence. The 1809 map of Arrecife (Fig. 22) mentions (in Spanish) a crossing of the harbour (mouth) with a dry stone wall. Directly inside town Odysseus stands near the temple of Poseidon, this may be the place where now is a church, as usual with the Catholic Church age-old strategies. Then he comes to the agora/market, paved with stones transported (rhutoisin, ͑ρυτοισιν) from elsewhere, and then set in the ground (VI 267). A good candidate for their provenance is Famara beach. Such stones are still used as plaster, nowadays set in concrete, being smooth and decorative, see Fig. 23, and we might find them under the former market place in Alcinoos city, if any remnants could be found when digging for archeological proof under the city of Arrecife. Their presence proves nothing about Phaeacians of course. By the way, the smooth stones of Famara beach also do function well as disks for throwing, and they come in variable weights of course, which fits well the scene that Odysseus grasps a disk far heavier than the usual ones (VIII 186).
Fig. 16. Map of Lanzarote
The disks used will have been natural stones, reasonably matched on average, as hand made disks would of course have been made to a standard.
Men worked along the harbour on ships tackle, probably bare-footed on the smooth plaster, as is and was the custom with sailors. Their oars were special, maybe made from poplar wood, growing as stated in the grove mentioned below. Such light oars are faster in rowing than when made of heavier wood. But replacement then is more frequently needed. Their gossip fits well in the picture for relatively tedious work. More about the nautic strategies of the Phaeacians later. The wall mentioned will have been of rocks, with imported palissade poles, or poles split from palms, as wood was always scarce here.
Fig. 17. Route followed by Odysseus
Fig. 18. One can see the outline of Alkinoos’ city
The town was probably triangular in layout, with the southern beach only lightly walled, as there was the well defendable seaward (external) harbour, also with a narrow and difficult entrance. The western wall might have been where now still is a broad street, the Avenida Leon y Castillo. Area covered might have been about 400 * 250 m , about 10 hectares, giving room for maybe a thousand inhabitants. Concepcíon (2014) mentions that Lanzarote still had no more than a thousand inhabitants (Guanches) when invaded by Juan de Bethencourt in 1402. In the period before that fatal date these inhabitants had to subsist on the land, while with the Phaeacians there may have been more prosperity, more imports, and higher population numbers.
Fig. 19. Town map of actual Arrecife
Then Nausikaa describes the place for Odysseus to wait until dark (VI 291-294). He should stay in a poplar grove near the road (coming from the North), growing around a spring, and there around is a grazing area (leimoon, which indicates a well-watered meadow). There is also a garden/park and vineyard, belonging to her father, king Alkinoos. It is on such a distance from the city that a human shouting can be heard. We still find such a spring, in the Parque Doctor Rodrigues de la Fuente, (see the town map in Fig. 19) some 1200 m from the northern shore of the Charco de Ginés where the palace of Alkinoos will have been. There is a very long slope above the city of Arrecife, where the scarce rain can percolate in the soil. On the photograph (Fig. 24) the streamlet is quite abundant, in fact it is artificial. The Algibe (water tank) in the park however is real indeed. There are more such water tanks to collect seasonal rain water flows around the city, and in the map dating from 1809 (Fig. 22) another spring is mentioned, the Mareta del Santo, at about 500 varas (reckoned as 0.83 m for one vara, thus some 400 m) from town (see also the text in Fig 25). It now lies covered under buildings. This might be the double spring mentioned in VII 129 which, geologically spoken, probably gives water from the same aquifer as the spring (mentioned in VI 292) in Parque Rodrigues. These double sources are watering the orchard and garden of the king, which lie very near to his palace, and which thus should be in the northern part of the town. Also the citizens can get their household water here. To go there Odysseus indeed must traverse the market place with its workers. Going from the gate he is guided by a young girl that has to fetch water, and thus must go to the spring at the palace.
Fig. 20. The harbour entrance is narrow indeed
Fig. 21. Harbour front west
Fig. 22. Old map of Arrecife
Water, gold and gardens
The actual situation regarding fresh water supply is more artificial than in Alkinoos’ days, and part of the supply is nowadays piped in from Famara. As was shown in Fig. 12, until recently there was a good reason to go to Famara beach when plenty of water was wished for. Seeing all this, and especially the nice harbours and pretty springs, indeed the gods had been very generous to Alkinoos (VII 132). The choice for this naval base had also other reasons, about which more will be said below. His people had only recently settled in Scheria as shown by the short family lineage given. The nobility is very rich as understood from the description of the palace. These are not farmers originally, but metal merchants I presume. Their main god is Poseidon, as is understandable with their craft and the place they live. But their habit is to toast on Hermes, god of trade, after their late meetings in the palace.
Fig. 23. Cobblestone plaster
Fig. 24. Artificial spring in the Parque de la Fuente
Fig. 25. Document on the water collection systems
The grain/wheat eaten as staplefood by the Phaeacians was probably grown on Lanzarote. This still happened until recently, mainly on the smooth sandy plain (El Jable) which Odysseus traversed in his trip to the city. The fruit gardens and vineyards described in VII 112, also nowadays can be found, even on rainpoor Lanzarote, either kept by smart gardening and soil working, or by using some watering (Figs 26 and 27). The climate still permits to have various harvesting periods for grapes as well as fruit trees. In tourist and museum guides for Lanzarote it is mentioned that in recent ages there was kept a grain supply for several years to feed the population, the harvests being quite variable because of the uncertain rains.
Fig. 26. Fruit gardens
When Odysseus goes through the city, guided by Athena disguised as a little girl, again it is mentioned that the Phaeacians have very good and speedy ships, which is probably the foremost reason for their succes.
The palace of Alkinoos is indeed very rich, and this is not from reigning a great population of farmers, as it seems to have been the case with the palaces of the sons of Atreus, Agamemnon (anaks androon, αναξ ανδρων, ruler of men) and Menelaos, both kings in rich wheat farming areas (see the Iliad). It is well to note that Odysseus seldom or even never is named anaks androon, but mainly poimen laoon (ποιμην λαων, herdsman of the people), which indicates a different and less power based relationship with his “subjects”. Probably the Phaeacians gathered much riches with their trips to far destinations, trading in metals and other precious wares. They may have crossed the Atlantic to buy copper originating from Michigan, which then would explain their riches. In our days still people row from the Canaries to the Caribbean islands with a basic technology not much better than that of the Bronze Age.
Butler (1900) gives many interesting remarks, but sometimes is going too far, such as when he remarks that the Phaeacians should have made their last toast not on the god of trade (Argeifontes, which indicates Hermes) but on Poseidon (VII 137). Does Butler fear the wrath of Poseidon? I myself, on the contrary, think their trade was most important to them on the quite infertile Scheria, and Poseidon anyhow was always (too) heavily on their mind, as they lived between volcanoes. For Poseidon a hekatomb is made to ask for mercy. By the way: Butler’s location of the harbour of Alkinoos, which he places at Trapani on Sicily, outright misses a narrow entrance. One should not call a harbour what is just an open bay.
Fig. 27. Horticulture
The unknown fate of the Phaeacians
There is no trace left/found yet of the Phaeacians’ occupation on Lanzarote except for the description of Homeros of the geographical and topographical characteristics. The Guanches, being the original people found by early European adventurers when colonizing the Canaries, did not build ships anymore. If these Guanches are descending fom the Phaeacians they must have lost their shipbuilding abilities, maybe through a murderous epidemic killing all shipwrights, or by emigration of the part of the population with nautic activities. To maintain a fleet on such an island poor in wood, you must bring in large amounts of planks and beams from elsewhere, which was maybe from Madeira (which means wood in Spanish) and of course by ship. Food was not the problem, nor safety, except from the volcanic dangers of this island. The Monte Corona has been estimated to have had an eruption some 3 thousand years ago, a good reason to go away. In the eighteenth century AD a series of eruptions finally made the population flee, to return only after all volcanoes became silent again. In XIII 172 Alkinoos tells his company that Poseidon has threatened to petrify a returning ship in sight of the harbour, and moreover has threatened to put a mountain over the city to punish his Phaeacians for helping Odysseus. Now this mountain story indeed has a historic equivalent as during the eruptions of 1731 not only lava flowed but also gigantic ash cones covered several villages, not so far from Arrecife.
About a presence of colonists in the 13th century BC, Concepcíon (2014) does not speculate, but he cites authors that say the Guanches probably have come to the Canaries as migrants from Berber peoples, thus from Northern Africa, since 1000 BC. In the Atlas historico de España this is confirmed (or repeated) on page 15 (Lopez Tossas, 2012). The Guanches had, in historical times, no communication between the Canary Islands, as ships were not made by them, nor even were known to them.
And about the petrified ship as predicted and witnessed by Alkinoos: a lonely rock far out in the ocean can be seen in a distance of about 10 km from the northern coast of Lanzarote. It is encircled in red on the Google image with the routes followed, in Fig. 17. We see it also in Fig. 28, this one made with telephoto lens, and in Fig. 29, taken without tele lens, at about 16 km distance, from near the Cueva de los Verdes. It is barely visible on a distance of 40 km, which is the distance to Arrecife, but from some high observation point it might be seen there by someone with sharp sight. This is the Roque de Este, and at great distance and with a restless sea, it resembles indeed a lonely ship surrounded by foamy waves.
Fig. 28. The rock that stands for the petrified ship
Fig. 29. The petrified ship, now the Roque d’Este, at great distance
I wish to thank Pablo Stam, classicist, for his critical comments and the interesting discussions I had with him. I thank also Ana Becerra Fabra, Técnico del Archivo Municipal de El Puerto de Santa María, for her nice assistance given to me during my research.
Contact: <email@example.com> Comments and information are very welcome, to find the truth. Comments on the English is also welcomed, I am not a native speaker.
Bérard, Victor, 1928. L’ Odyssée d’ Homère: Les navigations d’Ulysse. Armand Colin, Paris.
Butler, S. 1900. The Odyssey rendered into English prose. Gutenberg e-book edition.
Cailleux, T., 1879. Pays Atlantiques, décrits par Homère. Paris, Maisonneuve. Available on OnlineBooksLibrary
Cailleux, T. , 1881. Belges et Bataves, leur origine, leur haute importance. Weissenbruch, Bruxelles. internet e-book.
Concepcíon, José Luis, 2014. The Guanches, survivors and their descendants. Ediciones graficolor, Lanzarote.
Gideon, E. 1973, Homerus, zanger der Kelten. Ankh-Hermes, Deventer, Netherlands.
Goekoop, C.H., 1990. Op zoek naar Ithaka. Heureka, Weesp, Netherlands.
Harding, A.F. 2000. European societies in the Bronze Age. Cambridge University Press.
Herodotos, ± 430 BC. Het verslag van mijn onderzoek. (Translation in Dutch), SUN, Nijmegen, Amsterdam.
Krűger, D.J. 2004. The Sea peoples and Annales. Master Thesis, University of South Africa.
Latacz, J. 2010. Troia und Homer. Koehler & Amelang GmbH, Leipzig.
Lopez Tossas, Emili, 2012. Atlas historico de España. Larousse Editorial, Barcelona.
Mehler, J. 1908. Woordenboek op de gedichten van Homeros. Van Druten, Sneek, Netherlands.
Murray, A.T. 1976. Homer, the Odyssey, with an English translation. Harvard University Press.
Wakefield, J.S. 2010. Rocks and rows; Sailing routes across the Atlantic and the copper trade. ISBN 0-917054-20-2. MCS Inc. POB 3392, Kirkland, Wa., USA 98083-3392. Compilation of 26 papers. (www.rocksandrows.com)
Wilkens, I.J. 2009, Where Troy once stood. Gopher publishers, Amsterdam.
List of photographs
Fig. 1 Okeanos’ currents. From: De Grote Bosatlas 49th edition, Noordhoff Uitgevers, Groningen. Low-resolution
Fig. 2 He saw the land of the Phaeakes as a hide in the misty sea. Skins dried on a wall are not a common sight anymore in European societies
Fig. 3 The international symbol for leather
Fig. 4 Monte Corona and Los Helechos from the South
Fig. 5 Monte Corona as seen from the island La Graciosa
Fig. 6 Map detail with El Rio. Odysseus lands finally in the Playa de Famara. From Caleta del Sebo to Playa de Famara is about 14 kilometres
Fig. 7 Google Earth image of the Playa de Famara, with the little grove some 600 m from the beach. Dunes are visible as also are the cobblestones forming a black strife along the beach
Fig. 8 The grove seen from the beach. Measured distance some 600 m, allowing voices to reach the grove carried on the wind
Fig. 9 The grove of Fig 8 shows to be quite thick, from the endless punishing by the sea wind
Fig. 10 The litter is abundant in this thicket
Fig. 11 The grove has an excellent panorama all around
Fig. 12 Washbasins above the bungalow park. Now dry because of the low phreatic levels due to pumping. The water now goes to various towns, but it is said to be a bit salty
Fig. 13 Another set of washbasins. The dirt road along Las Laderas is behind the dry stone wall, and the aquifer the water came from is on the right, east of the dirt road. On Google Earth images it shows as a large triangular group of wash-outs of the cliffs above
Fig. 14 Cobblestones on the beach of Playa de Famara
Fig. 15 The sand dunes behind whose precursors did hide the maidens of Nausikaa some 3 millennia before present
Fig. 16 Map of Lanzarote (partial). The back trip of Nausikaa went over the slightly inclined plains of El Jable, and then probably along San Bartolomé to the North of Arrecife
Fig. 17 Routes followed by Odysseus marked in red on a Google Earth image
Fig. 18 Google Earth image of Arrecife, somewhat delimited to the location where the town of Alkinoos should have been. Calle Leon Castillo may have been the location of the defensive wall of Alkinoos’ city. Actually there still is a church, on the Calle Liebre where the Poseidon temple may have stood, in harmony with the age-old strategy of the Christian Church. The old road leads over the harbour entrance north of the Avenida Olof Palme. See also Fig 19. The other harbour of Arrecife in old times lies south of the Av. Coll on this image. On the townsmap there is mentioned the Puente de las Bolas, which probably has to do with throwing projectiles. La Puntilla (Calle de la P.) on the same map is on the harbour front where the gate may have been
Fig. 19 Map of Arecife. Note the Parque Doctor Rodrigues de la Fuente in the northern part where is a break in the slope, and also the Collegio Dominica, both places where a spring might have been located
Fig. 20 The entrance of the old harbour Charco de San Ginés is quite narrow. Tide is falling now on this photograph. This situation explains why the Faeakes did draw the ship for Odysseus to the outer harbour awaiting his departure; tide might be too low at the time set for travel
Fig. 21 The western harbour front, also showing the church. Tide is falling actually
Fig. 22 An old map of Arrecife, dating from 1809, on which several algibes (water tanks) and sources are indicated. Note the number 10 on the map, positioned above the text “Los Algibes”, which number 10 is in the leyenda explained as Mantes del Santo. Water was and still is a scarce resource in Arrecife
Fig. 23 Cobblestone plaster in the Jameos del Agua. This is just shown for the fun of comparing preferences over three milennia, and is of course no proof of former presence of Phaeacians
Fig. 24 In the Parque Doctor Rodrigues de la Fuente an artifial streamlet is kept, indicating the former situation with much water coming to the surface here. Some twenty meters below there is an Algibe, a water collecting tank or cellar
Fig. 25 A page from a document in the Public Library of Arrecife in which is mentioned the Mareta del Santo, a place to water the cattle. Mareta might indicate a varying water table
Fig. 26 The non-irrigated vine cultures of Lanzarote are famous. On this picture it cannot be seen if there is no irrigation whatsoever. Water pipes are usually black nowadays
Fig. 27 Horticulture with water supply, in some distance of La Caleta village
Fig. 28 The “petrified ship” taken with a telephoto lens. It is the Roque del Este, well visible on the Google Earth image as given in Fig. 17
Fig. 29 The “petrified ship” taken with a normal photographic lens. This is in some 16 km distance
1/ the distance from Lanzarote to Cadiz, where Cailleux places Ithaka, is a thousand kilometres, which is not very credible to be covered in one night. One hundred and fifty kilometres would be more reasonable. The ships of the Phaeakes are said to wondrous as for speed, as fast as is the speed of thought, but I would seek the solution of this dilemma more in what semantics might say about this wonderful journey of the sleeping Odysseus during one long trip (a sleep most sweet and most like to death) as described in what still, also by me, is considered a poem. I cannot find an indication in the text that this trip lasted only one night, and Odysseus might have slept three days in the ship. The ship arrives before dawn, that’s all that is written. This hour is the most fit for a secret arrival with a crew that bears no arms. See above for what is considered a rowing distance per 24-hour period. Note that Odysseus gives the cup from which he drank to Arete, who will have been a expert medic, just like Helen.
2/ Victor Bérard has located Scheria on the island of Kerkira (Corfu), I think he did so mainly because the Ancients did so, but probably also on account of the distance of about 150 kilometres to Ithaki which can be covered by ship in one night. On Corfu there is a thin rivulet to be found on the map near Sidari in the north of the island, with a quite good beach at the blue sea indeed. Corfu is not far from the rest of the world anyway, its distance to the coast is a few kilometres (three to be sure). And volcanic it is not at all, Poseidon would have a hard job to place a mountain on a village here. Butler’s idea that Scheria is Trapani on Sicily is also deficient in several aspects.
3/ To change words from “deep eddy” to “deep rolling breaker” is my choice in translating the scene of the playing maidens at the beach (VI 116), as the very regular and scenic rolling breakers are indeed a part of the beauty of this Famara beach, which invites for playing when tide is low and the ocean swell is not disturbed by wind. The word Homeros uses is βαθειη δινη, which is litterally “ a deep turning-around”. Usually this is translated as turning around a vertical axis, but water can also turn around a horizontal axis indeed.
Translations are usually made with a pre-conceived idea about what is described. To translate e.g. δεμος by just land is negligent, it means common land, which has no single owner but is open for all to use it (Odyssey XIII 97). In technical details unknown to the translator this is coming out often. The κορωνη of a bow is not a specially attached hook on the bow to hang the string in, but it is the curved end of the bow, at both ends to wit, wherein a small groove is made to put the loop of the string in. All very light of construction, to enhance the speed of the bow. The same word is used for a cormorant, that sea bird, with its characteristic neck and head, akin to a composite bow’s “hooks”(Siyahs in Arabic).