June 24, 2008

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MYTH AND HISTORY... (via The Mother Judd):

Researchers hit a homer with 'The Odyssey': Using astronomical clues, they date one of literature's most heralded events: Odysseus' slaughter of his wife's suitors. But the finding leaves many questions unanswered (Thomas H. Maugh II, June 24, 2008, Los Angeles Times)

Delving into a 3,000-year-old mystery using astronomical clues in Homer's "The Odyssey," researchers said Monday they have dated one of the most heralded events of Western literature: Odysseus' slaughter of his wife's suitors upon his return from the Trojan War.

According to the study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the wily hero who devised the Trojan Horse hefted his mighty bow on April 16, 1178 BC, and executed the unruly crowd who had taken over his home and was trying to force his wife into marriage.

The finding leaves many perennial questions unanswered, such as whether the events portrayed actually occurred or whether the blind poet Homer was the author of the tale.

But it casts a new sheen of veracity on a story that has existed in a hazy realm of fantasy and history since it was first composed 400 years after the Trojan War.


...is, hilariously, just a verified fact or two.

MORE:
Homecoming of Odysseus May Have Been in Eclipse (JOHN NOBLE WILFORD, 6/24/08, NY Times)

That Odysseus took his time, 19 years, getting home to Ithaca from the Trojan War is the story Homer engraved in the “Odyssey.” But exactly when did he rejoin his Penelope, who had been patient beyond belief?

Plutarch thought a crucial passage in the 20th book of the “Odyssey” to be a poetic description of a total solar eclipse at the time of Odysseus’ return. A century ago, astronomers calculated that such an eclipse occurred over the Greek islands on April 16, 1178 B.C., the only one in the region around the estimated date of the sack of Troy. But nearly all classics scholars are highly skeptical of any connection.

An analysis of astronomical references in the epic has led two scientists to conclude that the homecoming of Odysseus, usually considered a fictional character set in the context of a real historical event, possibly coincided with the 1178 solar eclipse.


Odysseus' Bloody Homecoming Dated to 1178 B.C. (Randolph E. Schmid, 6/24/08, Associated Press)

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Posted by Orrin Judd at June 24, 2008 7:00 PM
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