10th Pillar


The indirect elements of proof

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(Summary) The indirect elements of proof that verify the Odyssean heritage of Ithaca are equally strong and as admissible as the direct ones. There are in fact three main indirect elements and these are: (a) the failed theories attempting to place Homeric Ithaca elsewhere, (b) the archaeological theft which occurred in the “Homeland of Odysseus”, and (c) the endless recorded interest by intellectuals from all over the world.

(a) Failed and discarded theories attempting to place Homeric Ithaca elsewhere.

(Summary) Without exception all heretic, arbitrary and contradictory theories (the late prof. I. Kakridis calculated that there have been at least 70 of these theories in 27 countries, while the specialized researcher Armin Wolf raised this number to 80), seeking Homeric Ithaca outside the present Ithaca in the last hundred years, have failed to achieve their purpose and did not survive even to the appearance of the next theory. Ithaca’s identity has been verified repeatedly and indirectly, while its deniers have received but ephemeral “Homeric” publicity, which for most was, perhaps, their objective.

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The dispute by neighboring islands on the whereabouts of Homeric Ithaca started in 1830, but not until 1893 did it take the shape of an actual theory by Th. Kourouklis. Besides the 70 or 80 “marginal” theories from all over the world, Ithaca has been claimed by her neighboring islands Cephalonia*, Leucas and Paxos, of which after obviously by-passing the evidence of the 4th century BC coins, the first uses ten (10) different theoretical elements from known theories, Leucas one, and Paxos also one.

All these theories, stale, arbitrary, contradictory, and, chiefly, without any archaeological evidence, have no serious grounds and don’t achieve anything more than to occasionally convince a faithful group of local followers. Their hypothetical strong argument of the ‘highest to the west Ithaca’ has been blatantly violated and gradually trivialized. The result speaks for itself with the phenomenon of continual failures taking uncharacterized, scandalous dimensions. Ithaca, untouched upon her pedestal, becomes directly verified from the continuous refutations or dismissals of these theories which wait for some potential verification to the opposite and this for more than 120 years now. Here it is appropriate to quote the concluding phrases of the relative essay by D.I. Paizis-Danias “Homeric Ithaca in Cephalonia? Facts and fancies in the history of an idea”, Athens, 2007.

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‘‘No hint of any dispute about the location of Homer’s Ithaca survives from antiquity.

All our sources – historians, poets, folklorists, scholars and geographers, writing in Greek or Latin – accept that the island of Ithaca, home to the polis of the Ithacesians and to a cult of Odysseus, was that of Homer. Points of disagreement certainly existed, for example, over the location of Dulichium, the birthplace of Homer or the location of Nestor’s homeland, Homeric Pylos, but this was not one of them.

How seriously then should we take a somewhat peripheral debate manufactured over the last century, especially when a variety of local interests are at stake?

As even this brief review has shown, while the eleven Cephallenian “hypotheses” have little in common, they are united by their sheer and unlimited creative use of the sources and by their adoption as a starting point of their hypotheses that Homeric Ithaca cannot be the present island. Strange to say, they fail or omit (?) to directly address the well-established and continuously growing corpus of archaeological, philological, and topographical (and geological) information pointing to the island of Ithaca as that of Homer.

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No hypothesis moving within such a frame is able to merit academic recognition’’.

To complete the step towards identification, the exhibition exultantly confirms the well established belief and position of late professor Ioannis Kakridis attributed in “Geography of the Odyssey” (p. 251) with the following words: “It fast appeared that all these theories instead of solving the problem they made it even more difficult. That’s why current Homerists believe that it was the ignorance of geographical areas in the Ionian Sea that misled the poet to inaccuracies. There is then no reason to differentiate Homeric with historical Ithaca.”

*The “other” theories-hypotheses concerning Homeric Ithaca.

The effort of the researchers of the 10 Cephalonian theories moved on three theoretical axes based on the interpretation of Ithaca as the “most western of the islands”.

The first axis deals with the clumsy idea of exchanging the names of the two islands, by naming Cephalonia Ithaca (as the most western island), and Ithaca Same (Homeric Cephalonia). These are the theories of Th. Kourouklis, 1893 and Ger. Apostolatos, 2001.

The second axis deals with the idea of exchanging Ithaca with Paliki Peninsula, which is similar to the size and shape of Ithaca (but also responds to “the most western island”, without being an island at all). Some theories leave Paliki connected to the body of Cephalonia (theories of Ger. Volteras, 1903, Ger. Livadas-Toumasatos, 1988, and Le Noan, 2004), while one attempts to separate Paliki at the isthmus connecting it to Cephalonia by submergence. This is the Bittlestone theory, 2005.

The third axis deals with the arbitrary idea of putting borders on areas within Cephalonia, thus considering that Ithaca doesn’t particularly need to be a separate island, but a part of an island, even though this abolishes the meaning of island as well as the meaning of the most western island. These are the theories of W. Geokoop, 1908, E. Tsimaratos, 1948, D. Korkos, 1965, and Cramer-Metaxas, 2000.

This panorama of suggestions speaks for itself and is indicative of the span of an essentially futile and flawed project.

(b) The archaeological pillaging of Ithaca taking place in the homeland of Odysseus (1800-1865).

(Summary) The island of Ithaca at the beginning of the 19th century was pillaged for the exclusive reason that it was the home of Odysseus. It was selected amongst the four most favorite archeological sites to be pillaged the others being: the Parthenon of Athens, the temple of Aphaia in Aegina and the temple of Apollo Epicurius at Bassae, Peloponnese.

Ithaca at that particular time was pillaged exclusively as “Ithaca, home of Odysseus”. The pillagers with few exceptions and variations belonged to a select group of Europeans, more or less qualified researchers (mainly British and Bavarians) partly supported by European royalty and often connected to the Society of Dilettanti, the aim of which was research and study of ancient Greek (and other) civilization and the possible pillage of its archaeological evidence. It is worth noting that part of the core of this group aimed its interest to four well-known and perceptible ancient sites: the Acropolis of Athens, the temple of Aphaia in Aegina, the temple of Apollo Epicurius in Bassae, and the without a beauteous temple area of Homeric Ithaca, having as main target the so-called ‘‘castle of Odysseus’’ in Aetos, Alalkomenai.

The ‘‘Odyssean coins’’ at least rewarded the researchers, in a period when the Odyssean palace, under the influence of William Gell, was considered to be located in Aetos, even though it did not yield, besides the gold and the tomb findings, any visible trace of Odyssean habitation. In the beginning of that century, three central figures deserve reference for their contribution to Ithaca in a contradictory and controversial way: The British William Gell and John Fiot Lee, and the Bavarian baron Carl Haller von Hallerstein.

The first, in 1801, rediscovers Ithaca and redefines the “Homeland of Odysseus” geographically and archeologically with his book ‘‘The geography and antiquities of Ithaca’’, London, 1807. It was an intervention with mostly positive but also negative consequences. He did not take away any archeological findings.

The second removed whatever he could find from the area of Aetos to share with his companions, although he, more than anyone else, carefully and devoutly preserved the Ithacan findings that he kept for himself, and which today comprise the Ithacan Collection of the British Museum. The plundered shares of the others are either considered as lost, or are dispersed in 23 museums all over the world, or in unknown private collections (See tables).

The third made drawings and also carefully and devoutly preserved the archaeological treasures he uncovered from the area of Stavros, which today comprise the Ithacan Collection of the Archaeological Museum of Munich.

As for the notorious plunderer and grave-robber, Corsican Captain A. Guittera, under pay of the British during their regime at that time, he was the complete opposite of the others. Most of the findings he appropriated were sold and consequently dispersed while some can be found in various Museums all over the world (see tables).

Ithaca was a particular archeological site, early targeted for pillage in the name of its Odyssean past, at a very high cost.

The alleged mythical wealth of Ithaca.

The alleged mythical wealth of gold and precious stones and jewelry in Ithaca, was also a main cause of extensive archaeological plunder.

Following Edward Dodwell’s “A classical and topographical tour through Greece”. Ithaca 1801, p. 67: ‘‘Our guides asserted, that treasures of gold that had been found amongst the ruins of this place; and that the human skeletons of a gigantic size, had been dug up in the vineyards at the foot of the hill.’’, we quote the impressions of Thomas Smart Hughes (Travels in Greece and Albania, 1830):

“Surely none but a great commercial and ingenious people, for whom other less favoured or less industrious nations penetrated the bowels of the earth and laboured in the noxious mine, could have dared to waste so great a proportion of the precious metals by enclosing them in the tomb. Had all the Hellenic tribes indulged in such a practice, not even the mines of Chile and Peru, had they then existed, would have sufficed for such extravagant expenditure. The grand discovery of these sepulchral treasures was made in the little rocky island of Ithaca – the principal scene of excavation was mount Aetos, where the ruins exist of a city, with its acropolis. And which tradition still fixes on for the residence of Odysseus”.

The Assessment of the pillaging

(c) The interest in Homer’s Ithaca (from Antiquity until today).

Interest in Homer’s Ithaca has always been lively and the number of those involved, as either advocates or dissenters, is characteristic of the amount of interest.

An extensive number of art and history lovers and omnifarious researchers have involved themselves, through the centuries, with the issue of Homer’s Ithaca. The list of their names quoted here together with nationality and abbreviated profession, indicates the time span and the variety of people involved. The catalogue is twofold: the advocates (with or without some objections), and the dissenters, who deny that present-day Ithaca is the Homeric, claiming that Homer’s Ithaca is elsewhere. The difference in numbers is apparent.

Concerning the advocates, the involvement of so many and the cause of the various objections, which never actually dispute the core of the issue, derive from: (a) interpretation of Homer, and (b) dual Homeric geography of the island, north and south, expressed by British William Mure of Caldwell, in 1842, and of course the theories of the various dissenters, the so called “heretics”.

(a) The advocates: Professions of the advocates include: Homeric researchers (Hom.), Authors (Auth.), Humanists (Hum.), Civil Engineers (Eng.), Architects (Archt.), Collectors – Pillagers (Coll.), Painters (Art.), Archeologists (Arch.), Doctors of medicine (Doc.), Pharmacists (Phar.), Army Officers, Military (Mil.), Politicians (Pol.), Educators (Edu.), Journalists (Jour.), Laywers (Law.), Sea Captains (Cpt.), University professors (Prof.), Historians (His.), Academics (Acad.), Folklorists (Folk.), Journalists (Jour.)

Nationalities include: British (Br.), Bavarians (Bav.), Germans (Ger.), French (Fr.), Italians (Ital.), Esthonians (Esth.), Danes (Dan.), Austrians (Aus.), Dutch (Hol.) and of course Greeks –Ithacans (Gr. Ith.). (The catalogue is indicative).

(a1) Ancient His.-Auth. (From 2nd century BC – 11th century AD): (a) Greeks and Byzantians: Hellanicus, Ferecides, Andron, Plutarch, Pausanias, Demetrios of Scepsis, Apollodoros, Strabo, Plinios, Eustathios, Acusilaus, Stephanus Byzantinus, Antipater of Sidon, Porphyrios, Ptolemaeus, Appian of Alelxandria, Constantine VII Porphyrogennetos, (b) Latins: Cicero, Pomponius Mela, Antoninus Augustus.

(a2) Greeks and Foreigners (From 1675-2012): G. Wheeler: Br. Hum., J. Spon: Fr. Hum., William Gell: Br. Arch. Auth., Edward Dodwell: Br. Art. Auth., Raikes: Br., Hom. Auth., John Fiott-Lee: Br. Arch. Auth., Jacob Lynckh: Bav. Art. Arch., John Foster: Br. Arch., Otto Magnus von Stackelberg: Esth. Arch., Joham Martin von Wagner: Bav. Art., Willam Martin Leake: Br. Eng. Hom. Auth., P. Uluf Brondstead: Dan. Hom., Kruse: Ger. Hom., Schiber Ger. Hom., Carl Haller von Hallerstein: Bav. Arch., Thomas Burgon: Br. Coll., Thomas Smart Hughes: Br. Hom., Henry Holland: Br. Doc. Auth., Hugh Willam Willams: Br. Auth., H. St. Olivier: Br. Coll., William Goοdisson AB.: Br. Auth., Tertin T. C.: Br. Auth., Kendrick: Br. Auth., Lord Byron Br. Hom., Constantin Colliades -Le Chevalier: Fr. Arch., Ruhle von Lilienstern: Ger. Hom., Klausen: Ger. Auth., William Mure of Caldwill: Br. Hom., Liebertut F.: Bav. Auth., Nikolaos Karavias-Grivas: Doc. Auth., George Ferguson Bowen: Br. Acad.., James Woodhouse: Br. Mil., Thiersh: Bav. Auth., Jul Braun: Bav. Auth., Dr. Wordsworth: Br. Auth., Iakovos Ragavis: Gr. Auth., D. T. Anstead: Br. Auth., A. M. Chenavard: Fr. Arch., Heinrich Schliemann: Ger. Arch. Hom., Otto Seeck: Ger. Hom., William Gladstone: Br. Auth., Charles Lucas: Fr. Arch., Canina: Ital. Arch., Rumpt: Ger. Arch., Michael: Br. Hom., Lang: Br. Hom., Sabat: Hom., Manly: Hom., U. Wilamovitz: Ger. Hom., Molendor: Hom., J. Groschl: Ger. Hom., V. Berard: Fr. Hom., Joseph Partch: Ger. His., Rudolf Menge: Ger. Hom., Ludwig Salvator Aus. Auth., Vasilios Pilikas: Ith. Hom., M. Anninos-Kavalieratos: Hom. Auth., Panos Raftopoulos-Notharos: Ith. Doc. Hom., Athanasios Lekatsas: Ith. Doc. Hom., Nikolaos Pavlatos: Ith. Phar. Auth., Gustav Lang: Aus. Hom., Renell Rodd: Br. Pol. Auth., Burrage Ch.: Br. Auth., Phaedon Ikonomou: Arch. Hom., Nik. Kiparissis: Arch. Hom. W. A. Heurtley: Br. Arch., Sylvia Benton: Br. Arch., H. Waterhouse: Br. Arch., Ch. Watson: Br. Arch., John Cook: Br. Arch., Th. Skeet: Br. Arch., Fr. Stamping: Br. Arch., Kon. Petalas: Ith. Hom., Panos Mavrokefalos: Ith. Hom., Spyridon Galatis: Ith. Phar. Hom., Ger. D. Lekatsas: Ith. Prof. Hom., Evag. Zavitsanos: Ith. Edu. Auth.,Iak. Thomopoulos: Gr. Prof., S. Doukaris: Gr. Prof., Barr V.: Br. Auth., H. L. Lorimer: Br. Arch., M. I. Finlay: Br. Auth., Jean Cuisenier: Fr. Hom. Auth., Dimitrios Loukatos: Gr. Prof. Folk., Ioannis Mataragas: Ith. Auth., Gerasimos Kolaitis: Ith. Cpt. Auth., Panos Kallinikos: Ith. Auth., Ioannis Kakridis: Gr. Hom. Auth., F. Kakridis: Hom. Auth., S. Couvaras: Edu., S. Simeonoglou: Arch., Arianna Ferentinou: Ith. Arch., I. Malkin: Hom., J. M. Fossey: Br. Auth., Lews: Hom. Auth., Renell: Hom. Auth., S. Iakovidis: Gr. Arch. Auth., Christos Tzakos: Gr. Law. Auth., Dimitris Paizis-Danias: Ith. Cpt. Auth., Rita Tsintila-Vlisma: Ith. Auth., Spiros Arsenis: Ith. Jour., Ioanis Andrianatos: Ith. Prof. Rhetoric, Dim. Kostis: Gr. Archt. Auth., J.P. Crielaard: Hol. Hom., J. M. Fossey: Hom. Auth., Souyoutzoglou-Haywood: Arch., Mich. Kordosis: Gr. Prof. Auth., Than. Papadopoulos: Gr. Prof. Arch., L. Kontorli Papadopoulou: Gr. Prof. Arch., H. G. Bucholz: Prof. Arch., Basiakos and Pashalidis: Gr. Mil. Generals, M. Steihart-E.Wirbelauer: Ger. Arch., G. Huxley: Br. Prof., J. V. Luce: Br. Prof., Eugenia Vikela: Gr. Prof. Arch.

(b) Dissenters and Negatives. These categories concern at least 15 totally different Homeric Ithacas, out of which 11 are in Cephalonia and one in Leucas. This is the panorama:

(b1) Ithaca of Leucas. H. Draheim: Ger. Hom., K.W. Volker: Ger. Hom., Dorpfeld: Ger. Arch. (theory), Elsner: Ger. Hom., Barth: Hom., Gallina: Ital. Hom., Reissinger: Ger. Hom., P. Goessler: Ger. Hom., K. Doukas: Gr. Hom. Auth., Al. Filippas: Gr. Hom. Auth. (Supporters of Dorpfeld).

(b2) The eleven (11) Ithacas of Cephalonia: Ant. Miliarakis: Gr. His., Thr. Kourouklis (theory): Gr. Hom., Gerasimos Volteras: Gr. Hom. (theory), A. E. H. Goekoop: Hol. Hom.(theory), Evagelos Tsimaratos: Gr. Hom. (theory), D. Korkos: Gr. Hom. (theory), N. Livadas-Toumasatos: Gr. Hom. (theory), Henriette Putman Cramer-Metaxa: Hol.-Gr. Hom. (theory), G. Apostolatos: Gr. Hom. (theory), G. Le Noan: Fr. Hom. (theory), Robert Bittlestone, James Diggle and John Underhill: Br. Hom. (theory), C. H. Goekoop: Hol. – grandson of Adrian (theory), Laz. Kolonas: Arch., P. Petratos: Gr. Hom. Auth., H. Warneke: Ger. Hom., Nik. Kampanis: Gr. Hom. Auth., Ant. Vasilakis: Gr. Arch. (Kolonas, Vasilakis and Petratos support the Metaxa theory, while Kampanis supports the Livadas theory).

(b3) Ithaca of Paxos: Bishop Athinagoras.