Introduction

Preface

 

“Hearken now to me, men of Ithaca, to the word that I shall say…’’ (Od. β 25) (A democratic appeal made by Telemachus, the heir to the throne, who while holding the royal sceptre, addresses the agora – meeting place of the Ithacans.)

Today’s Ithaca is the Ithaca of the Odyssey and of Homer. The Ithaca of Pre-history and of History.

It can be identified by the location of two places of worship of around 1000 BC, detailed by Homer, and located by painstaking archaeological studies in Ithaca. Namely: The sanctuary of Apollo in Aetos (“a shady grove of Apollo, the archer-god”, Od. υ 278), and the cave of worship in Poli (“pleasant, shadowy cave, sacred to the nymphs”, Od. ν 348) an ark of Ithacan inheritance, a sanctuary dedicated to the gods and to Odysseus from 900 BC (tripods, potsherd “εὐχὴν Ὀδυσσεῖ ”= Votive offering to Odysseus, etc.), a place of worship for seafaring travelers of those times.

From an early stage in history, verification of the Homeric epics was connected with Mycenaean presence in the region of the Ionian Sea and within this framework Ithaca was identified with the Homeric. Later literary affirmation through evidence found dispersed throughout the epic relating to elements of the late Mycenaean (1400-1100 BC), Proto-Geometric and Geometric Period (1100-800 BC), make Ithaca the unique Ionian island, the only recipient, of Odyssean heritage. It is the island which presents findings from all phases of the Mycenaean and Geometric eras, and, especially unique in the region, findings which are characteristic of its Homeric features (Magnesia stele, inscriptions, et al).

It is the Ithaca that identifies, as no other island in its region, with Homeric description (Od. α 245-247, δ 608, ν 240-249).

It is the island of Ithaca (Od. α 171-173, π 58-9), seat of the “kingdom of Ithaca”, with Zeus, according to Homer, as birth giver to the line of Odysseus (“Zeus-born Odysseus”, Od. ο 485).

It is the Ithaca geographically determined by the channel, Asteris (the rocky isle) and Same (Od. δ 845-846). Polis (“πόλιν αὐτὴν τρηχείης Ἰθάκης” = “city of ragged Ithaca”, Od. κ 416-7), designated a safe haven on the sea route to the West, which not only sealed the fate of the island but also the position of the prehistoric city and of the Μegaron (Od. υ 144), which Homer calls “μέγαρον Λαερτιάδεω Ὀδυσῆος” = “hall of Odysseus, son of Laertes” (Od. σ 24).

It is the Ithaca of the Alalkomenai, who, faithful to Odyssean tradition, in the post Homeric years, renamed the prominent city in Aetos to Alalkomenai, after the city in Boeotia, believed to be the birth place of both Athena and Odysseus.

It is the Ithaca of Homeric consciousness of the 4th century BC that minted its own “odyssean” coins which pictured its mythical and historical heritage.

It is the Ithaca that for 2500 years, on coins, state seals, honorary medals and national stamps uses as its symbol the head of Odysseus.

This is the Ithacan great heritage which present day Ithacans feel honour bound to preserve.

Throwing Light on Homer’s Ithaca is an effort to clarify its historical identity asserting unique evidence and providing a current statement of the Odyssean narrative, to Ithacans, from all over the world, Ithacans of all nations and races as they were vividly described and immortalized by Homeric saga.