ATHENS (Reuters Life!) – Greeks on Friday hailed a new study showing the modern-day island of Ithaca is the same as that of Homer’s legendary hero Odysseus, rejecting a recent British theory that pointed to a nearby island.
British researchers last year claimed they had solved an intriguing classical puzzle, saying the kingdom of Ithaca was located on another Ionian island further west.
“This new study shows how wrong and inaccurate the British theory is,” Ithaca councilor and former island mayor Spyros Arsenis told Reuters of the study conducted by Greek geology professors and other scientists over eight months.
Arsenis also heads the island’s’ “Friends of Homer” society.
The British study — which suggested that Homer’s Ithaca was actually part of what is modern-day Kefalonia — had enraged islanders who are fiercely proud of their renowned ancestor, the wiliest of the ancient Greek writer’s epic heroes.
The British team suggested that drilling showed the Paliki peninsula on Kefalonia may have once been an island and that it better matched Homer’s description of the homeland which Odysseus left behind to fight in the Trojan war.
“The new Greek study shows…the geological formations could not have been formed in just 3,000 years and there is no evidence of any sea channel,” Arsenis said.
The study will be officially presented next week. The island’s local council also welcomed the results.
“This study rules out once and for all the theory that the Paliki peninsula was once a separate island. It is a slap in the face for the British researchers,” it said in a statement.
Finding ancient Ithaca could rival the discoveries in the 1870s of ancient Troy on Turkey’s Aegean coast and the mask of Agamemnon, who led the Greek forces against the Trojans. No one knows for certain whether Odysseus or his city really existed.
The discovery of the ruins of Troy, where Odysseus, Achilles, Paris, Menelaus and other Greek heroes did battle, has led scholars to believe there is more to Homer’s tales than just legend.
(Writing by Karolos Grohmann, Editing by Paul Casciato and Stephen Weeks)
Fri Mar 14, 2008