TRAVELING THE WORLD: GREECE AND THE ODYSSEY

My last blog on November 9 about tearing down walls created some controversy. So tell me what you think about building walls to keep people in or out? I stand by my position, but welcome the opinions of others.

In this blog, I look back to an early traveler: Odysseus. I have always loved Greek mythology, how about you? Some of the text of this blog is from my book, Voice of a Voyage: Rediscovering the World During a Ten-year Circumnavigation. I have not included the endnotes that are in the book.

 I re-read The Odyssey as we traveled Odysseus’s “wine-dark seas.” Helen, Paris, the Trojan Horse, Odysseus, The Iliad and The Odyssey—are all well known. But not so widely remembered is that Odysseus didn’t even want to go. His home was Ithaca. When summoned, he feigned madness plowing his fields erratically and sowing salt, not seed. Palamedes, who had come to fetch him, was as cunning as Odysseus and put young Telemachus in front of the plow. Odysseus swerved to avoid his young son, and thus the king of Ithaca became part of the army to avenge Helen, but against his wishes. He may have had a premonition of what was in store for him.

But how did it all start? I don’t mean Helen’s affair with Paris, the gods’ interference, and the pledge that forced the Achaean chiefs to go with King Menelaus to win her back—but before that.

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Zeus in the Athens Museum

 Zeus was the god, unrivaled among the assembly of Greek gods and goddesses—the almighty in the Greek pantheon. There’s no question about that. When someone—be it god, goddess, human, or other entity—had a major complaint, they went straight to Zeus. Earth had a major complaint, so Earth went to Zeus and explained that mankind was too numerous and arrogant and asked Zeus to do something about them. Zeus came up with war—the Trojan War.

[Creating war-there is a hint of something modern there!]

Ithaca was the home of Odysseus and the end of his odyssey. As Odysseus said, “It is a rough land, but nurtures fine men. And I, for one, know no sweeter sight for a man’s eyes than his own country.” It was here that I searched for his spirit.

But first, his “biographer,” Homer. We visited the site of what is believed to be his school located there.

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Homer’s School site

 Next week, some of the artifacts from Ithaca’s Polis cave, first excavated by the British in the 1930s, with several indications that this area was the home of Odysseus, including a shard with “Votive offering to Odysseus, _______dedicated it.”

 

 

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