Monday, October 17, 2011


"Your crime is that you tried to steal my world. The world I built with my hands, and my sweat and my blood.

The Odyssey is a poem likely rewriting and compiling various previous stories about the homeward journey of Odysseus back home from the Trojan war. It has been read and enjoyed by people for thousands of years but most chalk it up to mythology and fantasy. While many of his adventures (with sirens and cyclopes and such) are myth, there was a framework of truth behind the tale.

Odysseus really existed. He was a real king on a real island who fought in a real war and had a real hard time getting back home. And recently, courtesy Front Page Anarchist we learn that an archaeologist believes he has found Odysseus' Ithican palace. The English translation of Ria Novosti reports:
Thanasis Papadopulos, who has been carrying out excavations on the Greek hero's home island for 16 years, said he had discovered the remains of a three-storey palace and a well, which date back to the 13th century BC, which is when the Trojan war, described in Homer's Iliad, is believed to have taken place.

The remains matched the description of Odysseus's palace in Homer's Odyssey, reputedly written around the 8th century BC, Papadopulos said.

Ithaca Mayor Spiros Arsenis said Papadopulos's excavation is easily one of the most important discoveries in modern archeology.
If Papadopulos has found Odysseus' home, it truly is. Kings back in 1300 BC didn't live like kings today; they were mostly just warlords who accepted the allegiance and tribute of nearby people in exchange for their protection and judicial wisdom. They lived better than others nearby did, but would tremble in jealousy at modern man's luxury.

Still, the palace would be a modestly fine building of stone and much larger and more permanent than most locals enjoyed.

Incidentally, in 1997, Armand Assante starred in a TV miniseries version of the Odyssey if you want to see a really well done and as I understand it accurate version of the story. Or you could dig up a version of Homer's original. Its a classic for a reason.


Eric said...

There is a Texas musician named Adam Carroll who wrote a song that is at least tangetially about Odysseus. Kind of novel to hear a song about The Odyssey sung with a sharp East Texas Twang. Here are the lyrics:

Home Again by Adam Carroll

We all move in circles from the day that we begin
We wait around til we run aground before it all comes back again
He was a husband and a father just the same
But when his country went to war he knew they'd draw his name
He told them he was crazy but they would not let him be
They sent him off as a wandering hero lost in an unknown sea

He was fightin until nightfall, waitin for the day
that peace would come back and he could get back home again
Washed upon a new land, feelin like an old man
He wasn't gettin any younger, he wants to get back home again

Twenty years is a long time when you wanna be some place else
I see his name in everyone just like I see myself
Seven years with Calypso, immortality for love
As I stare at the constellations wishin for the girl I was dreamin of
And summer times I've stood underneath the beer joint sign
Cause even ol' Odysseus got bored from time to time

Diggin in my billfold, countin out the spare change
Gotta take a Greyhound so I can get back home again
Spent the night with strangers, lookin for my friends
Better keep on lookin til I get back home again

Old times always stay the same and brand new days are strange
But you never lose yourself and all you do is change

All our days are short next to the rings around a tree
But trouble like the Cyclops keeps one great big 'ol eye on me
I won't run out of courage and I won't give up the game
Cause everybody's watchin you when nobody is your name

Stuck inside a mouse hole runnin' out of hope
Better keep on diggin til you get back home again
Make it through the worst pains, callin out the Gods' names
They'll stick besides you until you get home again

Jonathan Cook said...

That is very cool news.

Talk about a timeless tale! My kids read numerous versions and adaptations over the years - my daughter actually studied it in depth in middle school (a charter school). And my whole family will vouch for the mini-series - it really is a great production. My wife had always been aware of the story, but sort of dismissed it as "guy stuff" when she was younger. After seeing the series she was thoroughly impressed with the depth and epic timelessness of the themes.

I've noticed dozens of references to the Odyssey in songs, but one immediately comes to mind: Suzanne Vega wrote a nice one called "Calypso" telling that episode from the nymph's perspective.