Showing posts with label Jason and the Argonauts. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jason and the Argonauts. 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.


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)

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

In Search of Greek Heroes: Jason

Welcome to my summer series for this year, In Search of Greek Heroes, where I search for the facts and myths behind the greatest Heroes of ancient Greek religion. Today we are looking for the courageous Jason.

Jason, it is believed, lived from 1287 to 1247 BCE, being born royalty to King Aeson and Alcimede of the Kingdom of Iolcus in Thessaly. Before Jason could assume the throne, however, His uncle Pelias overthrew His family and seized power. 

One of the most interesting things about Jason's story in terms of examining His life and history, is that for a notable time, historians argued that the story of Jason's voyage, as written, could not be true because the ships of His time could not have survived those waters for such a long journey. However, in 1984, an adventurer by the name of Tim Severin decided to test that theory. He reconstructed an ancient Greek ship of the time period with his own crew and successfully sailed the entire distance, proving that it could have been done. The skeptics were completely debunked. The story of Jason and the Argonauts was a solid possibility. To read his book, The Jason Voyage, is to see just how horrendous and painful such a trip would have been for ancient men. It's one reason why all of the Argonauts are Heroes. Tim Severin sadly passed away last year, leaving behind a life of remarkable adventure work and exploration.

Jason's most notable adventure and success is the achievement of the Golden Fleece. For years, people have wondered what it actually was. To speak simply, it is the wool of a special kind of ram, golden and winged. Gold can indeed by intertwined with thread, so it's very well possible that there was a fleece that has been beaten in with gold or gold lining. In fact, the land where it allegedly resided was known to be rich in gold. The Fleece itself represented Kingship and Authority. After the overthrow of His royal parents, He was sent to be raised by the wise centaur known as Chiron before returning home to reclaim His throne. Meanwhile, the tyrant Pelias received a prophecy from a local oracle, to be wary of a man wearing only one sandal.

On Jason's journey home, He had one of the simplest but also one of my favorite adventures of His life. Coming to an old woman at a river crossing, He took her upon His back and waded through to the other side, losing a sandal along the way and also not realizing that the old woman was Hera in disguise, Queen of all Gods. She blessed the young man for His kindness and also because She did not like Pelias. Upon meeting Him, and seeing the one-shoed youth, He made Jason a deal. If He could capture and return with the Golden Fleece, he would step down and give the throne back to Him. The legendary object was located in Colchis, which is the modern day nation of Georgia, on the far East of the Black Sea.

Jason did not go alone, however. He assembled a crew of Heroes and also a Heroine (Atalanta, the only female aboard), naming them all Argonauts, after the name He gave the ship, Argo. When they finally made it to Colchis after many amazing encounters and adventures, the king of the realm was in possession of the Fleece, but would only relinquish it to Jason if He preformed a series of tasks successfully. The first was plowing a complete field using fire-breathing and bronze hooved bulls known as the Khalkotauroi. The second was to sow dragon's teeth in the field, which resulted in the resurrection of stone warriors from the earth, whom He defeated. The king, however, still did not want to give it up. Helped my Medea, a legendary witch and sorceress, Jason found the oak where the Fleece hung, guarded by a deadly dragon. Medea used her spells to make the dragon fall into a deep sleep. Jason took the Fleece and headed for home.

He eventually did reclaim the throne, but had an extremely hard life afterwards. It was not a glorious reign. Jason died in 1247 BCE, while sleeping under the Argo one night. The stern, rotted from years of use and disrepair, fell and crushed Him.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

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