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Dating Odysseus

So, some astronomers got together and pegged a date, based on Homer's description of what sounds awfully like an eclipse, for Odysseus's return to Ithaka. Since I've read the story on three news sources now, I think I'll just let you all google it. This is marvelous fun, if only because it means that people outside of lit-crit are taking literate mythology* seriously. (They even use cues or Hermes/Mercury in the story, basing some of their logic on the planet's position and correlating the two. How very Hamlet's Mill of them!)

They've pegged him at 1178 BC. I was displeased with this number initially, because Troy 6 is dated at 1700-1250 B.C., and those 72 years would be far too long for Odysseus to fight, get lost, and come home to Penelope outside of an old age home. ("Alas! I should have stayed Calypso!") But having just pulled my trusty Troy book by guide Mustafa Askin off the shelves, I realized that Mustafa's theory (as well as some other scholars) is that Troy 7a is actually Homer's Troy, not Troy 6. That city dates 1250 to 1180. That falls pretty neatly into line with the eclipse of Odysseus.

As a note, while researching this, I came up with five offspring of Odysseus that were conceived during his travels: three with Circe (who turned his men into pigs) and two with Calypso. Those Greek heroes did like to get around--but, acknowledging that I'm applying modern standards on mythic Greece--I feel like Penelope kinda got the raw end of that deal.

* I specify here because the printed version of The Odyssey we all have access to is most certainly literature--but it without a doubt stems from earlier oral mythic traditions. So it's somewhere in that nebulous continuum


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 26th, 2008 02:30 am (UTC)
I have nothing intelligent to say about this, but I had to say that I love the double entendre of your title.
Jun. 26th, 2008 02:54 am (UTC)
I hadn't even quite meant it that way when I wrote it! I did realize before posting, however, and consciously decided to keep it. :)

(To be fair, I kind of stole it from _aquamarine, who worked on a project applying dates to Herodotus for a semester and therefore used the pun first. *g*)
Jun. 27th, 2008 02:17 pm (UTC)
I like the double entendre of your title, because I had no idea what it was going to be about.
Jun. 27th, 2008 02:18 pm (UTC)
Ha! And I just noticed someone beat me to the punch about that. Well done Caitrin. That'll teach me to not read through comments before posting one.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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