Monday, July 11, 2011

Dorpfeld's Theory on Odysseus' Cave

'Port of Nydri' acrylic on canvas by Peter kreet
 Dorpfeld Street was named after a 19th cent. archaeologist who  held the view that Lefkade and not Ithaca  was the home of the Trojan hero Odysseus. This viewpoint is reasonable as according to Homer his kingdom consisted of Lefkade, Corfu, Kefellonia Lefkade , Ithaca  and possibly also Zakynothos. There is evidence to support this theory although in recent times it has fallen out of favour.

The result of all this is that I have decided to explore this part of the Ionian Island on a quest to try to find a likely cave that fits Homer's description. I had already spent a week on Ithaca without any positive results. Now I intended to work my way down the mountainous east coast of Lefkade. To date I have inspected a large cave complex south of the city, unfortunately the caves proved to have been highly modified in recent times, many interlinked with tunnels down which some had railway lines. My guess is that they were used during WWII by the Germans as some sort of ammunition supply depot.

Further down the coast I inspected a bronze age site and took a boat from Nydri to Meganisi to look at the Papanikolis caves. The Germans had used these also to hold a submarine and seemed unlikely to have been the site the kindly Phaeacians would have deposited Odysseus.

It seems reasonable to give a brief outline of Odysseus' trials over the ten years he took to return home from Troy. Unwilling to leave his wife Penelope and infant son but was persuaded to go and once there proved to be a highly skilled not only as warrior, but also an orator and cunning tactician, Odysseus came up with the idea of the Trojan Horse [ not in Homer].

On his homeward journey he fought off many perils such as the one eyed Cyclops, the witch Circe [ who turned men into pigs], the seductive Calypso and then Sirens' island where he had too block his ears with wax  to stop being seduced. His blinding of Cyclops angered Poseidon [god of the sea] resulting in the loss of all his companions. Eventually the Paeacians took pity on him and returned him to his home.On arrival he found his wife Penelope was being besieged by a hundred suitors, so disguising himself as a beggar and with the support of his son and Eumaios the swine herder killed them all.

Homer's Odysseus is one of the foundation books of western literature and the wonderful think is even two thousand seven hundred years later is still in print.

Sirens Isle  acrylic  on canvas  Peter Kreet

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