File:† <odysseus.htm>†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† <Archeology>††††††††††† <Index>††††† Next►
†††† [Basque words are shown in Bold Green Italics]
Odysseus and the Sea Peoples
†††††††† Edo Nyland in studying the writings of Homer noted that he writes that Odysseus was the king of the small island of Ithaka, today still called Ithaki by the Greek inhabitants. It is ocated west of the Greek mainland in the Ionian Sea. In Odysseus' own words, Homer provides us with a clear description of the island and its location; however, this description does not seem to fit the island of Ithaki in Greece. Furthermore, Nyland (2002) noted that modern Ithaki shows no archaeological evidence of the palace and village as described in the epic. Also, Homer's description of the climate of Odysseus' home island in no way seems to belong in the Mediterranean. [Note:† at the time the Odyssey was believed to have taken place around 1186-1177 B.C., the earthís average temperature was about one degree Centigrade COLDER than by the year 2000óSee Climate.† Thus, the Mediterranean region then could have resembled more northerly climates of modern times.] He tells us about storms, fog, tides, hoarfrost, and the endless gray ocean, all with distinctive north Atlantic characteristics. Translator Lattimore wrote:
†††††††††† "Homer seems to know his Ithaka, and what it is like, only he does not seem to know where it is. Listen to Odysseus himself who ought to know": "I am at home in sunny Ithaka. There is a mountain there that stands tall, leaf-trembling Neritos, and there are islands settled around it, lying one very close to the other. There is Doulichion and Same, wooded Zakinthos, but my island lies low and away, last of all on the water toward the dark, with the rest below facing east and sunshine" (IX: 21-26).
††††††††† Lattimore then comments: "This simply will not do for Ithaka, though it has the landmarks, for it lies tucked close in against the eastern side of the far larger Kephallenia" (Odyssey p.14). To Lattimore and other classicists it is obvious that there is something wrong here. As we will see later, Odysseus' description, quoted above, contains some evidence needed to show the real location of Homer's Ithaka; it is not in Greece at all, in fact it is nowhere near it, as Homer himself admits when he writes that:
††††††††† "The name of Ithaka has gone even to Troy, though they say that it is very far from Achaian country" (XIII: 248-9).
††††††††† Ithaki was part of the Achaian region, but Ithaka was not. We are also told that Odysseus is married to Penelope and that they have a young son, Telemachus. Penelope, which means:
.pe - ene - elo - ope
††††††††† Odysseus then leaves his devoted wife and child and, according to Homer, joins the Achaeans in their brutal attack on Troy, where he supposedly spends the next ten years fighting. This blood and gore episode is the topic of another of Homer's epics, the Iliad. We know that Troy existed and archaeologists have shown that the ruins of the town show plenty of evidence of violent destruction by fire, war and earthquake. Also, the historical records found in Egypt and elsewhere appear to support the fighting in Asia Minor and provide likely dates for Odysseus' travels. The trouble is that these dates do not correspond to the date the excavating archaeologist assigned to the Troy of the Iliad, as will be explained. Odysseus' subsequent history certainly does not support Homer's insistence that Odysseus was an Achaian or a Greek.
THE ODYSSEY SUBDIVIDED
††††††††† The epic which was passed on to us through the ages, can be subdivided in chronological order starting with his departure from Troy and arrival on Kalypso's island; then from there to the land of the Phaiakians and Odysseus' homecoming on Ithaka.
A: The Great Wanderings, as told by Odysseus, from Book IX: 37 to the end of XII.
B: The Homecoming, as told by Homer, Book V to VIII and XIII: 1-187.
C: The Telemachy, Book I to IV.
D: The Murder of the Suitors, Book XIII: 187 to the end of XXIV
A: THE GREAT WANDERINGS
††††††††† In spite of being only one week sailing away from his supposed home on Ithaki, it took Odysseus ten years to get there. The citadel of Troy had been conquered, the people massacred and the young women acquired as slaves or concubines by some of the Achaean chiefs, but apparently none by Odysseus or his men, because when Odysseus' ships leave Troy they sail into a very different world of adventure, of fairy tales and magic and head strong women in positions of command, and they meet strange and wild characters. The women taken from the Kikonians are no longer mentioned. He loses eleven of his twelve ships with all the crewmembers when giant cannibals pelted them with huge rocks from the cliffs above in the "beautiful harbor". Any other captain who met with such a fate would surely have returned back home but not Odysseus; he manages to escape and sails on with one ship and crew to an unknown island where Odysseus climbs a steep mountain and sees the sea all around him. From his high perch, he sees smoke rising in the middle of the island and after a day or two meets a lovely Goddess called Kirke (the Latin spelling Circe did not appear until some six centuries after Homer lived). She then proceeds to turn half of the crew into pigs but relents, when Odysseus draws his sword, and orders her to return the men to human shape. The two then go happily to bed and after their love making is done, Kirke takes command and gives the great Odysseus a number of tasks to do, which he meekly accomplishes with great fear in his heart. Certainly a rather strange scenario.
††††††††† Following Kirke's orders, he sails away, visits Hades where he meets Teiresias, the seer and keeper of Hades, the underworld, who retained his powers even in the land of death. During his visit to Hades Odysseus meets his mother and other deceased ancestors, his fallen Troy comrades and sails back to Kirke. In all this activity Homer seems to omit critical detail; the reasons which explain why all this is happening are not there. Kirke then gives Odysseus a new set of instructions that take him to the island where the alluring Sirens sing, after which he sails onto Charybdis where he loses six of his best seamen to a six-headed monster lurking in a cave above the water. When he reaches land, he has a big meal of beef at the expense of Helios' holy cattle, gets shipwrecked and in the accident sees all his remaining crew drown. Then he drifts alone for nine days on some flotsam that he manages to save from the wreck before the amorous nymph Kalypso, who proceeds to keep him for seven years, supposedly as a love-slave, rescues him. No explanation of any kind is given for this time of imprisonment. It is all very nebulous and confusing, however, much good information had been supplied for Kirke's island, geographical, mythological and linguistic, but the story does not seem to flow logically because again there are major gaps in the story. Up to now, all these roving adventures have been told in the first person, but his stay with Kalypso signals the end of the "Great Wanderings" and Odysseus' own story telling.
B: THE HOMECOMING OR NOSTOI
††††††††† When he leaves Kalypso, Homer tells the story from then on in the third person. This part is called the "Nostoi" or Homecoming, even though it really is part of the Great Wanderings. Ordered by Zeus, Kalypso gives Odysseus the tools and the necessary wood to build a small sailboat which he sails due east for 18 days, to the land of the oar-loving Phaiakians, following an accurate star bearing. Homer then tells the story of the difficult trip to the Phaiakians and the warm welcome Odysseus received there. He tells about the adventures and his hosts apparently like Odysseus so much that they load him with treasures; but Homer gives no explanation why these were given. The Phaiakians deliver him back to Ithaka, which appears to be described as only an overnight trip away, certainly not the very long way to Greece. In all secrecy, Odysseus is put ashore with his treasures and the Goddess Athena comes to help him carry it all into a beautiful and very deep cave which cuts clear through the island from north to south. Deep in the cave they store it all in a niche and place a large rock in front. What were these treasures and why was the Goddess Athena involved in taking care of them? They must have been very important and probably related to the early religion. Is there a chance that some of the treasures may still be where she and Odysseus placed them? This possibility may exist because the location of the cave is now known and may not have been entered or explored for centuries.
C: THE MURDER OF THE SUITORS
††††††††† In the last section of the Odyssey, Homer suddenly turns our hero into a bloodthirsty murderer who kills 108 unarmed young men, the flower of the island. The only reason given is that they ate some of Odysseus' sheep and pigs, and had vied for the hand of Penelope, the still beautiful wife of Odysseus, after his 20 year absence (10 fighting at Troy, ca 10 away on the Wanderings). Throughout the years that Odysseus was away on his wanderings, they had always respected Penelope's person and her privacy and were at worst no more than a bad nuisance, which makes the grisly murders so totally out of character for Odysseus. The story does not ring true, no matter what way you slice it. When the epic, centuries later, was translated into Latin, the awful murder episode was used by some Roman to give Odysseus a derogatory new name: Ulysses, uli-is.-.se-es.
uli - is. - .se - es.
††††††††† Whoever made up this name did an enormous injustice to this great and courageous individual. When the Greek island off the west coast of Greece was chosen to be Odysseus' home, Homer named it Ithaka, meaning "Senseless deluge of death". The meaning of the name tells us that even the person who made up the name agreed that the mass murder was totally unwarranted. As a matter of interest, the name Ithaki, used by the modern population, comes from izakide meaning coexistent, referring to its proximity with the much larger island Kefallinia lying west of Ithaki.
D: THE TELEMACHY
††††††††† Translator Richmond Lattimore has his doubts about the authenticity of the Telemachy, the four books of the Odyssey which tell about Odysseus' faithful son Telemachus, who searches far and wide for information about his father, and in the process nearly gets finished off by the suitors who had lain in wait for him when he returns from his trip to sandy Pylos. Compared with the wanderings, this part of the Odyssey is disjointed and artificial, as Lattimore says in his "Introduction".
"The obviousness of the joins and the bulk of the material not specifically related to Odysseus in Books III - IV, his absence from Books I - II, have suggested that the Telemachy was an independent poem which was, at some stage, incorporated more or less wholly in the Odyssey" (p.4).
††††††††† A Canaanite legend describes the same brawling and killing tactics, specifically the throwing of furniture, as used by Odysseus and Telemachus when they supposedly were massacring the suiters of Penelope:
She fights violently, She hurls chairs
at the soldiers,
††††††††† Male domination had turned the caring priestesses into brawlers and fighters. Everything in the Odyssey points to the conclusion that the Telemachy cannot be part of Odysseus' epic voyage. Odysseus was not married, he had neither son nor wife, otherwise he would never have been chosen for a starring role in the Sacred Marriage, about which much more later. It appears obvious that the ancient Canaanite legend was adapted by Homer and included in the Odyssey for a very specific purpose. With all the additions and alterations in the original epic and the pall of brutality this has cast over Odysseus' character, our hero was never given the chance to set the record straight, All indications therefore are that neither wife Penelope, nor his son Telemachos, belong in the epic and they will no longer be mentioned.
THE REAL ODYSSEUS
††††††††† It will soon become clear to the reader that Odysseus could not have belonged to the patriarchal, woman-despising new world of the eastern Mediterranean sky gods. Homer repeatedly tried to convince us of this, by inserting Zeus as the all-knowing supreme father, philanderer and rapist, assisted by a variety of less important deities who did his bidding. Instead, Odysseus clearly belonged to the earlier trusting and caring world of the Great Goddess, who was still adored in much of Europe and especially on the Atlantic islands of Britain, Ireland and in Scandinavia. The Goddess Athena who sheltered him during his adventures had no father Zeus to supervise her, because she was the Goddess Ashera herself, in her role as protectress of the sailors. Zeus was only fully introduced to the Greek people after Homer had identified and described him in his epics. In a way, the two books by Homer were like a bible for the classical Greeks, designed and written to provide the people with an entirely fictitious pre-history designed to bury the true religion and accomplishments of the people of.the Goddess. The new legends and the pantheon created to cover up the illustrious past could hardly be called a religion, not even a cult, in spite of all the beautiful statues which were made of the heroes, gods and goddesses.
††††††††† Based on historical and archaeological information, and the writings in the Odyssey, Nyland (2002) discussed how† Odysseus was a Pict born on Barra in the village of Borve. Being a skillful sailor and a smart tactician, be was placed in charge of the fleet of ships from the Hebridean islands and NW Ireland, assembled to be sent to the Near East to once and for all destroy the unwanted upstart pre-Judaic patriarchal religion. Many battles were fought, all initially very successful, but Egypt's Ramses III turned the last one into terrible tragedy, as depicted by the pharaoh in such elaborate detail on his Medinet Habu temple. An effort is made to describe these happenings, the difficult times Odysseus lived in, and how the tribes thrived and worshiped in his island civilization of the Goddess.
††††††††† Everyone studying Homer's writing has been asking the same question. Even though there is next to nothing to go by, many suggestions have been made over the centuries. He has been called a blind poet as Wilkins comments:
"According to some, Homer was in fact the blind bard Demodocus, who sings the end of the Trojan War at the court of Alcinous (Odysseus IIX: 44-108). This would amount to Homer having 'signed' his work.... For the ancients, the mention of blindness merely referred to the capacity of clairvoyance of many seers and poets, for it was believed that the blind could 'see' the future because they were more receptive than other people". (Page 269)
††††††††† To others he was an illiterate memory man, who dictated his oral wisdom to a scribe. Others say that Homer represented several people because of the different writing styles and the sheer size of the epics. However, Nyland (2002) showed that the Odyssey was a much older epic, orally passed on, which played mostly in the North Atlantic and which was deliberately altered, probably by Homer himself, and mutilated for the single purpose of destroying all references to the Neolithic Goddess religion and civilization of the Atlantic, which was guided by women. Homer's orders must have been to eliminate the memory of the enormous effort of the Sea Peoples to wipe the upstart patriarchy off the face of the earth. Wherever possible, male domination, female subservience and helplessness, male chivalry and aggressiveness is stressed by Homer, while prominent and independent women in positions of command such as Kirke, Medea and Kalypso are reduced to witches, magicians and eccentrics. Stories belonging in other countries, such as the massacre of the Kikones, the mass murder of the suitors and the blinding of the wheel-eyed Cyclops, were inserted to give the impression that Odysseus was firmly located in the aggressive camp of the male sky gods. All these tales were blended masterfully into one most readable fairy tale, using a characteristic style of poetry, which we now have as the Odyssey. It is therefore clear that Homer cannot have been the blind, illiterate poet who simply passed on his memorized knowledge to a scribe. Instead, he may well have been a highly literate priest of the new proto-Judaic religion of the jealous sky gods. His assigned task would then have been to mask and distort the true origin of, and the history told in, the original travelogue. However, some parts of the older story he removed can at least be partly recovered by reading between the lines, by translating the original names and words used, and by tieing in information given to us in other documents, on tablets, using legends and inscribed on temples.
††††††††† Although the wanderings took place approximately 1180 B.C., Odysseus' travel account may not have been written until about 750 or 700 B.C. The name Homer is usually said to have originated from 'homeros' normally accepted to be a Greek word meaning "hostage", which could have been a pseudonym for one person or even a group of "gogogizonak" (memory men), however, hostage is also a rather inappropriate name for a literary giant. In the universal language underlying Greek, using the VCV Formula †vowel-interlocking formula, "Homer" is the agglutination of three words:
ho - ome - er.
††††††††† In Nylandís (2002) book, words and names used by Homer are decoded and translated. They are an important part of the solution of the question "Where did Odysseus go?" The explanation of the system of translation used is discussed elsewhere in this homepage, under Ogam. The reader, who is interested in knowing how the people who first wrote the epic assembled the names, is urged to read the chapter on Linguistic Archaeology first. Decoding the meaning of the words is no exact science, it was not intended to be, and only that much can be deducted from them as the composition of the names permit. However, the highly organized and logical structure of the ancient language (Genesis 11:1) that we call Basque today, makes this process in general feasible.† Sometimes more than one logical translation appears but this is something that cannot be avoided but solutions are possible with practice.