Showing posts with label Homer. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Homer. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Palace Of Odysseus FOUND At Last!


When the Greek Reporter released an article this week about modern Greeks having Mycenean DNA, it made me think about the elusive Odysseus and the search for Him that has been by far one of the hardest.

But a few years ago, I became fascinated by the quests of modern adventurers like the late Tim Severin who proved the voyage of Jason possible, and then I moved on to the geographical research into Homeric Ithaka. Like Severin, I refused to accept the analysis of "myth busters," mainly because they've been proven fools numerous times. I was not content with the conclusion that Homer's Odyssey describes an island civilization that didn't exist. Because the problem with this analysis is that Homer's world was not set in stone, but one forever in motion due to earthquakes. Even Troy was only accepted as factual when Schliemann dug it up from the earth and matched it to Homer's descriptions. And Schliemann, among others, also visited Ithaka during his time as an archaeologist and mythologist. Not only were coins discovered depicting Odysseus, but a sanctuary to Apollon from 1,400 BCE, before the Trojan War (the specific worship of Apollon on Ithaka is mentioned in Homer). But of course, evidence of life on the island goes all the way back to 3,000 BCE, with findings that prove Mycenean civilization was there at one time. So there is no debate whatsoever that Ithaka was notable during the Iliad Era. 

It was perhaps only a matter of time before we either found the location of Odysseus' home or declared it lost forever. Indeed, Greece has always been a very seismic region, especially on the islands. Sometimes earthquakes completely wiped out the town or village and sent part of it plunging into the sea. Some things from Homer may be unfindable simply because they were destroyed not only by the Christian church, but through natural movement and erosion. I suppose I've always been fascinated by Odysseus and Ithaka because The Odyssey was my first taste of ancient Greece when my English high school class watched the film. I was captivated at that point. I even dressed up like Odysseus during Hero Day, one of the days held during School Pride Week. In truth, I never doubted the story for a minute. I always believed it.

For a long time, Odysseus' palace remained the only Homeric royal residence that had not been located. But by 2018 and on into today, it has been declared found by archaeologists on Ithaka. The Greek government was so sure of this that the Prime Minister sent 120,000 Euros to continue funding the excavations. The large building found in Agios of Ithaka has been confirmed to be a Mycenean complex, which existed at the time of Odysseus' rule and fits perfectly with Homeric details. The archaeologists and professors responsible for the find are not leaving it to mere interpretation either. They believe it proves Odysseus was real. The final piece of the palace puzzle has now fallen into place. Homer is history. With so much discovery and truth of the ancient stories, and now one more added to the pile, one may wonder how long it will take before the Greeks realize where they truly come from.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

Sources

Picture: Fresco of a Mycenean Woman, 1,300 BCE. Image is in the public domain in the United States because it is PD-Art and the copyright term therein has expired 100 years after the author's death.

Article 1 (Ithaka Archaeology)

Article 2 (Excavation of Odysseus' Palace)

Google (Palace Landmark and Visitation)

Monday, July 5, 2021

In Search of Greek Heroes: Ajax


Welcome to my summer series for this year, In Search of Greek Heroes, where I hunt for the facts and myths behind the greatest Heroes of ancient Greek religion. Today we are looking for the mighty Ajax. You may have heard of Him before in less epic narratives. If you look on or underneath your sink, He's probably a household name you know. The toughest cleaning agents ever made for common man have been named after Him. But the real man comes to us from Homeric Epic, The Iliad. Hellenists like myself go to great expense and labor to furnish and decorate their temples, sanctuaries, treasuries and libraries, so I was delighted when Ajax became the Patron Hero of my temple this year.

When I teach about this great Hero, I normally begin by telling people that there were, in fact, two Ajaxes, those being Ajax the Great and Ajax the Lesser. The one normally worshiped is Ajax the Great. Of course that's not to say that Ajax the Lesser cannot be. All of the great men of Homer are considered Heroes, even some who were not Greek. While Achilles was the greatest warrior of the Hellenes, Ajax was by far of the greatest stature and strength, referred to as the Bulwark of the Greeks, possessing a fearless character and a highly intelligent mind, probably notably when it came to battle and strategy. He was also known primarily as a defensive fighter of the Greek lines, camps and ships, and a man of great honor and nobility. In fact, there are no Homeric depictions of Him initiating a fight, only defending against attacks, and after the duel between Him and Hektor, which is called as a draw, the two men exchange gifts with one another. Ajax was also notable for fighting to recover the bodies of dead Greek warriors for proper honor and burial. One of the most favored of the Greeks by the Gods as well, as Poseidon, at one point in The Iliad, uses His trident to restore Ajax's strength.

Ajax met His untimely end when the Trojan War starts to come to a close. There are different explanations as to why it happened, but it is generally accepted that He committed suicide. If true, we know today that there are lots of reasons why veterans of wars meet these ends. But one of the great things about Greek religion is that while something such as suicide is not admired, it is always possible to be redeemed from errors. Just because you commit an offense in this life, does not mean you cannot ascend to higher levels in your more enlightened State. After His death, Ajax received Heroic honors, worship and even festivals in the Greek world. The island of Salamis even hosted a temple and statue to Him, along with a festival called Aianteia. He also became a Hero of Attika who received worship by the Athenians and statues in His honor.

At the turn of the 21st Century, archaeologists began to excavate around the area where it was believed that the residence of Ajax or at least His family once stood, on the island of Salamis. They brought to the surface a palace of over 8,000 square feet. The structure, it was found, had been abandoned around the time of the Trojan War. Pausanias, the ancient Greek traveler and writer who lived in the Roman times, reported that abnormally large bones had been found on the seashore of the former Trojan landmass, near the Greek City of Sigeion. These, he wrote, were declared those of the washed out grave of Ajax. The bones were ordered to be reburied by the Emperor of Rome. There appears to be no modern coordinates for these remains or their new burial site.

My Temple's Prayer to Ajax
written by me.

O' great Ajax,
colossal to men,
noble to Heroes,
holy to Gods,
as our sacrifices pour out,
and burn sweetly to you,
bless our prayers,
that your strength empower us,
and your shield and spear defend.
Watch our backs,
guard our temple,
protect what is ours,
and clothe our bodies and minds in the armor or heaven.

In the Goodness of Ajax,
Chris Aldridge.

Monday, January 4, 2021

Massachusetts School Bans Odyssey Because Of "Sexism and Hate," Proving How Little They Actually Know About It


The declining intellect of some members of the human race never surprises me in this day and age. A Massachusetts school has actually banned The Odyssey because it teaches "sexism, racism, ableism, antisemitism, and violence." Good Gods, I don't even know where to start, but I'll try, because I'm a Hellenist of 10 years who has actually read the works of Homer and studies ancient Greek religion and civilization. The first thing these historically illiterate people need to understand is that Homer was not merely a Poet to the ancients, He was history. To them, He was simply reciting things that had happened long ago, not advocating a political or social position. It would be like accusing someone who writes a US history book of being sexist, racist, or whatever it may be. 

Claim 1: The Odyssey is sexist. 

False. The Odyssey holds Goddesses and mortal women to some of the highest levels of honor, power, virtue, wisdom and nobility. Without Athena, Odysseus and His son would not have been safe from the suitors. In the beginning, Athena even makes a plea for Odysseus to Zeus, showing how valuable it was to have the favor of female Divinity. If it hadn't been for Penelope's persistence and dedication, Ithaca might have been lost. Without Nausicca, Odysseus may have died before even reaching home. Or perhaps you might think the story is somehow sexist because men at times encounter female opponents or villains. But this is a huge fallacy, especially considering that there are many female Heroes, and male villains as well such as the Cyclops and the suitors who are depicted with great disgrace. At this point, you're finding sexism only because you desire to.

Claim 2: The Odyssey is racist.

Have you ever even read the first book? At the beginning of the story, Poseidon is away delighting with the Ethiopians, a race different than that of the Greeks. So let's put this into perspective. One of the greatest Gods of the caucasian Greeks leaves Greece to go feast and celebrate with the black Ethiopians, and this is supposed to signal racism. In what reality? Odysseus travels to many foreign lands of people different than the Greeks, where He often receives their aid and protection. Sometimes, people in The Odyssey even sacrifice to foreign Gods when they are in foreign lands to gain divine favor outside of their own culture.

Claim 3: The Odyssey supports ableism. 

What shall we say of the idea that abled people are more favored than disabled people in The Odyssey? I would imagine it thinks disabled people can be very capable, since at the end, Odysseus, in the form of an elderly wobbling man, outdid and defeated the younger, stronger suitors in the bow contest, and then killed them all. So the allegation that The Odyssey "doesn't like disabled people," is an invention at worst, and out of context at best.

Claim 4: The Odyssey is Antisemitic. 

The largest culture closest to the Jewish people in The Odyssey would be the Phoenicians, who were a semitic speaking people. While they resided in Israeli territory, they in fact had trade and influence all over the Mediterranean. Hardly something you would expect from people who were allegedly hated by the Mediterranean at the time, but there is something vastly important to consider. They were not enemies of Odysseus. They were friendly, helpful and essential to Odysseus completing His journey. In fact, in Book 8, Odysseus blesses them by saying, "The Gods shower down their grace upon these people, so that no evil dwell among them forever."  Odysseus bears no ill will toward the Phoenicians, but in fact is grateful for their presence. Some might even argue that the Phoenicians would not qualify as Jewish people, since their king Alcinous prayed to a Greek God after the blessing of Odysseus was given and encouraged his people to do the same: "Herald, stir the mixing bowl and carry drink to the entire hall, that our dispatching the stranger to his land may be with prayer to Zeus the Father."

The antisemitism that's allegedly in the story was, in fact, pulled out of someone's butt in the year 2020 and placed there. If anyone can locate a section in The Odyssey that is blatantly antisemitic, please post it in the comment section and we will examine it. 

Claim 5: The Odyssey is violent.

Violence is part of the nature of the universe, and part of human nature when necessary. Get over it. Sometimes violence is needed to create, build and preserve. You think the Earth came into being peacefully? You think there were no violent events? What of the United States that gives you the freedom to speak against literature you dislike? You think we maintained our way of life through campfire songs? Get real. Teaching children that there's no such thing as violence is to make them ill-prepared for the real world. It may be unfortunate, but sometimes violence is necessary. On a side note, you know other books and stories, whether fiction or non-fiction, that are violent? Harry Potter, but even with the immense violence and the clear transphobic attitude of JK Rowling, I bet they are still on the shelves of every public school library. 

In conclusion, yes, it is true that in parts of ancient Greece (not all), women were not equal to men. Although they were highly revered and privileged in Sparta, a kingdom which also appears in The Odyssey. But it's also true that women were not equal to men for most of American history as well. So are you going to ban US history books? And what of the violence? You'll have to ban US history for that as well. 

Disabled people in ancient Greece, unlike in other parts of the known world, could become valuable members of society, such as Seers. Some cultures, notably the Abrahamics, wouldn't even let disabled or deformed people sacrifice in their temples or at their altars because of their disabilites or deformities. The Greeks weren't that ignorant. And as said before, the Greeks routinely interacted with the many races and cultures around them. They traded with them, learned from them, and made friendships and alliances. This is not the conduct of racism or antisemitism. 

There is not, nor ever will be, such a thing as a perfect history, culture or people. You're going to end up banning every book known to humankind. The point of history is to learn, but this is the blatant erasing of it.

Update - Apparently the book hasn't actually been banned, there has simply been discussion of it, but nonetheless, it was strong enough to create news headlines, and accusations that should be addressed. 1/5/2021.

In the Goodness of the Gods,

Chris Aldridge.

Work Cited: The Odyssey, translated by Laurence of Arabia aka T.E. Shaw.

Friday, May 8, 2020

Preordained Death: Feelings of Fate

The ancient Greeks, to a good extent, believed in Fate, as is evident in their mythologies and religious beliefs. Homer, the ancient Greek Poet, once said that no one can send Him into the Underworld until it is His time, but that when it is His time, nothing can stop it either. So the question begs, are our lives preordained in the sense that we have a time to live and a time to die? I talked with my wife about this idea briefly last night. I myself have always believed the words of Homer concerning the situation, but through philosophy, I think I have been forced to add something onto it.

I do think that most people will not die until it is their time. How many brushes with death have people had and missed it? There are lots of people in the world today who should be dead, but they're not. So it's clear that there was an aversion to the end of their lives at that point. However, we must also consider another fact. Nature always has anomalies. So when we ask ourselves, can someone die before their time? In some cases, the answer would have to be yes. Because if people couldn't die before their time, the Gods would not acknowledge such a thing as murder. A human life could not be taken unjustly if no one died until their time. So the fact that the opposite is true, shows that not everyone will make it to their destined time, whether it be because of murder or a natural cause of death. However, I do not think that's the norm. I think the vast majority of us will not die until our time, or for that matter, experience anything we are not supposed to.

But at the end of the day, I know the Gods are good, and along with Homer's words, I live my life in a state of comfort.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

Monday, January 27, 2020

How We Know Achilles Existed

When people hear of the Tomb of Achilles, they don't realize that from Alexander the Great to Emperor Julian, and even as late as the Ottoman Empire, people have written of their visits to the site. We have multiple sources, some not even Greek Polytheistic, who testify to the existence of this structure and the remains of the Hero therein, and being that Achilles died during the Trojan War, His body would have been immediately accessible to the Greeks for burial, so there's no chance that someone far later discovered remains somewhere and interpreted them to be Achilles. Like the existence of Troy itself which was proven by archaeology, Homer's works are literally records of real places and Gods of cultures, so why are they also not records of real people? Achilles existed most certainly, and people visited His resting place well into the Common Era.

What makes the Tomb of Achilles lost today, however, is the fact that the marker is gone, as it was only identified by a pillar, and there's no record of exact coordinates. His remains lie unnamed somewhere near Troy. In other words, we'll probably never find it, and if we do discover His remains, nothing will be proof enough for a skeptical scientist. They will always find a way to deny what they don't want to accept, and always find ways to accept what they don't want to deny. Furthermore, what if there are actually no remains left? What if they have all withered away at the mercy of the elements? But what we can say for certain is that He was real.

The only general location of His resting place, which has been drawn, photographed and filmed many times, is a large mound called a tumulus, which is a man-made mound that normally presides over a burial site. Certainly not uncommon, as Greeks were burying war Heroes in mounds as late as the Battle of Marathon, long after the Trojan War. The town that was founded around or in the vicinity of the tomb, called Achilleion, was abandoned in the Hellenistic Era, leaving everything around it to fall either into the hands of ruins or bandits. However, the mound itself still remains and can be visited to this day.

Tumulus of Achilles on Video

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Learning From The Greek Heroes: Achilles

Mirroring my late series Learning From The Greek Gods, I decided to begin another centered around the Heroes and Heroines, as I think they can and do present wonderful guidelines for human life.

There are times when you come across something you just have to have, and this was the case with me a couple of weeks ago when I purchased my first ever statue of the Hero Achilles from Crete, Greece. As you can see in the picture on the left, it's a very beautiful and detailed piece.

Being the Homeric Hero of The Iliad, Achilles holds a special significance for me because Homer was the first to introduce me to ancient Greek myth and religion. So someone like Achilles resonates with me. But there's something more to consider for the Hellenist when it comes to this Hero, and that's His role and relevance to the modern Greek worshiper.

Achilles is a Hero who can be prayed to for strength, courage, and victory in battle. As the greatest mortal warrior of His Age, one can find all the values of said person in Him. But what else does Achilles represent besides the obvious? What can we learn from Him?

Achilles represents the utmost of human strength, bravery and strategy. If there ever existed a man who knew how good he was and didn't give up, it's Achilles. He knows His strengths, and He knows what can and cannot be accomplished. He also knew His value to others around Him. When He withdrew from battle amid His quarrel with Agamemnon, Achilles knew the Greeks would notably hurt in His absence. Achilles teaches us to know our strengths, our worth, and to win when possible; even to use leverage when necessary. Being an advocate of truth when He protected the soothsayer from Agamemnon, Achilles also expresses the greatest of virtue and lives it by example, as we all should. It did not do Him any profit to stand against the richest and most powerful king of the ancient Greek world at the time, but knowing the right thing to do was far more important. It's like one of the Tenets of Solon, which says to do what's right instead of what's popular.

In our own lives, we may never be a great warrior on the battlefield like Achilles was, but His core values and ethics can shape even the most mundane of lives into Heroic ones.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Who Were The Trojans?

We all know the famous story of the Trojan War (City of Troy VII), how the Greeks and Trojans across the sea, fought each other for ten years, until the Greeks, led by Odysseus, tricked the Trojans with the famous Trojan Horse. The story is enshrined in the human imagination, and thanks to Heinrich Schliemann, is also embedded in the books of human history. But who were the Trojans of this time, really? Has that question ever been successfully answered? 

The first possibility is that they were a group of Greeks themselves. The Greeks came from the east and settled in mainland Greece. Troy is also in that direction. Remember, the Greeks had differently named settlements. Homer doesn't even call the invaders of Troy "Greeks," but rather Argives and Achaeans. So it's entirely possible that Troy itself was a Greek settlement, just called by its name instead of identifying with an entire ethnic category. It's also possible that the Trojans were Hittites, as the Hittite Empire was in Asia Minor, which is also where Troy was located. 

Some people think that the Trojans went on to become the Romans. Legend has it that, when Troy fell, a Trojan named Aeneas, fled the city and founded what would become Rome, which, as Karma would have it, later conquered Greece. However, if it's true that the Romans were the remnants of the Trojans, it would be very, very early Rome. Remember, Rome became a mighty empire, and many different bloodlines lived and populated there. Even today, a Roman citizen might not be the same as a Roman even five-hundred years ago. I think it would be very far-fetched to go to Rome today, point to someone and say, "you're a Trojan." I think the Trojan bloodline is basically extinct, that it died out a long time ago, certainly as history knew it.

Who were the Trojans of the famous war? I think the fair answer is that we don't really know. But we do know that there was a Troy, and we know it as a fact because it was excavated by Schliemann, proven to the world, and we do know it was one of the greatest times of Gods and Heroes ever written about in the history of humanity. The brave men on both sides live forever in history and in our hearts.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris.

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