A NEW ASTRONOMICAL DATING OF ODYSSEUS’ RETURN TO ITHACA

A NEW ASTRONOMICAL DATING OF ODYSSEUS’ RETURN TO ITHACA

St. P. Papamarinopoulos(1), P. Preka-Papadema(2), P. Antonopoulos(3) ,

H. Mitropetrou(1), A.Tsironi(1) and P. Mitropetros(2)

(1)University of Patras, Department of Geology, 26504 Rio Patras, Greece 2
(2)University of Athens, Department of Astrophysics, Astronomy and Mechanism, Faculty of Physics, 15784 Athens, Greece
(3)University of Patras, Department of Physics, 26504 Rio Patras, Greece

 

ABSTRACT

The annular solar eclipse, of 30 October 1207 B.C. (Julian Day-JD 1280869), calculated by NASA together with the analysis of the weather’s and the environment’s description (long nights, plants, animals and peoples’ habits) and the astronomical data (guiding constellations and Venus in the east horizon) mentioned by Homer in the epic, constitute an autumn return of Odysseus to Ithaca five days before the above characterized day. The latter offers a precise astronomical dating of the event and dates the legendary Trojan War’s end as well.

INTRODUCTION

In ancient Greece it was known what a genuine myth meant. For instance, Ploutarchus (Fragmenta 157) says the following: “The old physical science for both, the Greeks and the Barbarians is natural logos (logos in antiquity meant fact) hidden deeply within myths”. Much earlier than Plutarchus, Plato, in the 4th century B.C., defined Science in Phaedrus (277.b.5- 277.c.3) and mythology in Timaeus and Critias (110.a.2-110.a.4). Plato himself knew the difference between genuine and fabricated myth. He wrote it in Timaeus and Critias (26.e.4-26.e.5) and in Republic (Resp.377.b.6-377.b.6) respectively. Plato in the Republic (Resp., 379.a.1) says that “it is appropriate for the founders to know the patterns on which the poets must base their stories and from which they must not deviate”. This phrase means that in antiquity some of the poets were deviating, from time to time, from the recorded tradition which passed orally to them, and they had to be told.

Homer is not different in this context. This means that some of his passages might not be but mere fantasies. However, Kraft et al (2003) offered compliments to Homer saying characteristically the following. “The reality of Homer’s description of place, event, and topography correlated with geologic investigation helps show that the Iliad is not legend but regularly consistent with palaeogeographic reconstructions.” Kraft et al (2003) does not understand the subtle difference between legend and fabricated myth from the stand point of ancient Greek authors and for this reason he calls it legend. The correct word would be paramyth meaning fabricated myth. Moreover, in the volume “Science and Technology in Homeric Epics” (2008) there are numerous papers in which Homer has been tested, with the principles of science, repeatedly and found correct.

Also, a number of authors have considered different astronomical aspects, facts and allusions in the Homeric Epics (Theodosiou et al. 2011). However, ancient researcher Heraclitus of Pontus (Allegories, 75, 1, 1-9, 3) had long recognized and explained the passage Od.20.356-357 as a solar eclipse. He was the first to suggest that the Odyssey person, called Theoclymenus, described an incoming solar eclipse to suitors, hours before its occurrence and before their death.

One of us, Papamarinopoulos (2008) and two other authors Baikouzis & Magnasco (2008) independently to each other, had proposed the 16th of April of 1178 yr B.C. (JD 1291264) as the day Odysseus returned to Ithaca. All the three, mentioned above, have interpreted Homer’s passage Od.20.356-357: and the sun has perished out of heaven and an evil mist covers all, as a spring`s total eclipse event. They based their interpretation on NASA/Espenak and other studies respectively. However, all the three, authors had ignored other significant diagnostic information mentioned by Homer.

Before we focus in the Odyssey`s passages we studied initially what the ancient Greek authors, archeologists and historians had said about the dating of the Trojan War’s end because we intended to connect it with Odysseus` return since Homer says that Odysseus returned 10 years after the Trojan War’s end (e.g. Od.5.106-108, Od.2.174-176). Table 1 and Table 2 tabulate main opinions respectively. We even took into consideration the ancient Greek textual and pictorial mythological sources which mentioned two successive Trojan Wars conducted by Achaeans against Troy (Kakridis 1986). The second, from the Trojan Wars, was the legendary War mentioned by Homer in which Ajax and his companions fought. The first was realized, a generation earlier from the second, in which Ajax’s father participated. The heroes of the two wars are presented in the temple of the Athena’s Aphaea temple in Aegina Island. We note that Hiller (see Table 2) proposed two Trojan Wars coinciding with the Greek’s mythological tradition.

Although Homer is not a historian, like Thucydides for instance, we took the liberty to examine specific Homeric passages in order to extract possible testable information in connection with Odysseus’return in Ithaca.

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