It would have amused Homer to know that more than 2000 years after he wrote his Odyssey the route followed by his hero Odysseus is still in contention. It is thought Bronze Age sailors could not travel beyond the Mediterranean Sea so all the routes have to be squeezed into this area, thereby ignoring the details of what the poet actually tells us about his hero’s journey. As a sailor, I have taken Homer’s information at face value, assuming he knew what he was talking about and meant what he said. I let him take me as passenger in the wake of Odysseus, charting his route on the Medieval portolans that took information from much earlier charts, known as Source Maps, as researched by Nordenskiöld, Hapgood and others. If we wish to find the Land of the Laestrygonians or Circe’s Isle, it is to these ancient charts that we must look, for these are the charts Homer would have seen: maps so old that they show a lower sea-level. They were gathered together as antiquities in the Library of Alexandria 400 years after Homer’s death.
If Homer tells us Odysseus sailed for 17 days non-stop with a west wind and we know where he ends up, accounting for the speed of his ship we can work out fairly well where he started from. But then, my practical navigation exercise turned into an exciting journey of discovery for it became evident that Homer is describing trade routes in a coded form at a time when myths and the art of storytelling were in danger of being forgotten; incorporating the proportions of Phi and the Golden Mean into the distances between destinations on the route. This is not so surprising when we realise the Phaeacians (Phi-aecians) to whom Odysseus tells his story may have been the seafaring inhabitants of Phaestos on Crete.
Homer may have taken the fall of Troy as a peg on which to hang his story, but he is taking information from an even earlier time, looking back across the bleak Dark Ages of Greek history and the eruption of the Thera volcano to a time when the Minoans and Phoenicians sailed the seas fearlessly and travelled long distances even to the northern lands of the Hyperboreans, who were themselves using stone circles built in the proportions of phi, worshipping the Sun god in their circular temples, and sending presents of their finest harvest fruits to Delphi.
The Odysseus Code follows the journeys of Odysseus with extracts from the 1903 translation of the original by Butcher and Lang. It runs to 53,000 words with 19 diagrams and maps.
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