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Archaeologica.org • View topic - Odyssean eclipse

Odyssean eclipse

The study of religious or heroic legends and tales. One constant rule of mythology is that whatever happens amongst the gods or other mythical beings was in one sense or another a reflection of events on earth. Recorded myths and legends, perhaps preserved in literature or folklore, have an immediate interest to archaeology in trying to unravel the nature and meaning of ancient events and traditions.

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Odyssean eclipse

Postby Grumpage » Wed Jul 09, 2008 12:29 pm

This is a little late - technical difficulties delayed my registration/activation.

Has anyone read the Baikouzis and Magnasco article “Is an eclipse described in the Odyssey?” accessed via the main page link of 29 June?



It requires a careful read but is well worth the effort. The authors have worked out the coincidences of astronomical events mentioned (or implied) by Homer in connection with Odysseus’ return to Ithaca. The date that ties them all together is 16 April 1178 BCE, and the probability of this particular conjunction is low (1:2000 years) - a remarkable and fascinating result.

So how did Homer achieve this feat? How did he know of these astronomical occurrences and the way they ‘cohere‘ (the term used by B & M)? The authors say that these events, albeit most improbably, could have been “observed and noted (at the time), preserved through oral tradition for centuries, and then incorporated into the story by the Poet. The main argument against this possibility is that the data we’ve examined requires observations of a high level of sophistication for the time and place and its precise preservation in oral tradition.” To me this is a real tricky issue. All but one of the astronomical events occurred before Odysseus’ return. How would someone know that the drama in Ithaca was about to take place in order to observe these conditions? Could they have been worked out or guessed soon afterwards? Certainly a Homeric retrospective is highly unlikely given the state of astronomical science at the time.

The authors conclude their article by saying: “We again emphasize that even if our analysis were correct, we still could not say whether anything other than an eclipse happened that 16 April, because it is equally compatible with a historical Odysseus, or with an allegorical Odysseus whose wanderings were structured, deliberately, according to an astronomical timeline. Either case, our conjectural Homer would have had to be aware that there was an eclipse on a certain date and what the planets did on nearby dates. This is problematic enough, because the dates were centuries before his time; how this knowledge was acquired—we dare not conjecture, for all possibilities sound equally outlandish.”

Any suggestions?

PS: Glad to be here :wink:
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Postby Minimalist » Wed Jul 09, 2008 12:39 pm

Something is wrong here. War, disease, death, destruction, hunger, filth, poverty, torture, crime, corruption, and the Ice Capades. Something is definitely wrong. This is not good work. If this is the best God can do, I am not impressed.

-- George Carlin
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Postby Ishtar » Wed Jul 09, 2008 2:57 pm

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Postby rich » Wed Jul 09, 2008 3:09 pm

i'm not lookin' for who or what made the earth - just who got me dizzy by makin it spin
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Re: Odyssean eclipse

Postby Forum Monk » Wed Jul 09, 2008 5:34 pm

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Postby Ishtar » Thu Jul 10, 2008 5:17 am

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Postby Forum Monk » Thu Jul 10, 2008 10:29 am

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Postby Grumpage » Fri Jul 11, 2008 12:27 pm

A further clarification of my thoughts and then I’ll shut up.

It seems to me that explanations run as follows:

1. The astronomical conditions (ACs) were noted at the time and preserved/remembered for introduction into the story when it was produced. This is ok for the eclipse but cannot account for those ACs preceding Odysseus’ arrival in Ithaca. How would anyone know the future in order to observe the ACs? Also it is unlikely that the required observational techniques were available at that time.

2. The ACs were retrospectively calculated at some point during the formulation of the story. The difficulty here is that pre-Homeric astronomical science was not up to the job.

3. The ACs were retrospectively calculated, post-Homerically, when the science became available, and then inserted into the story.

This last option is interesting as it engages with the textual history of the Odyssey itself. That is, the Odyssey didn’t become ‘fixed’ after it was first written down but at some time later (e.g. like Biblical texts). Does anyone know anything about this?
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Postby Forum Monk » Tue Jul 15, 2008 2:17 pm

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Postby Forum Monk » Tue Jul 15, 2008 8:37 pm

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Postby Forum Monk » Tue Jul 15, 2008 8:51 pm

Using the same criteria listed in the article and the Delta-T correction, here is my reproduction of the eclipse:

Image

The moon is superimposed over the sun in the image at around 12:00 noon. All five of the visible planets are in a nice line and would have been visible at the same time during totality with Pleiades, crowning the sun.

Date: 16 Apr 1178 BC about 12:30PM
Last edited by Forum Monk on Wed Jul 16, 2008 1:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Grumpage » Wed Jul 16, 2008 3:24 am

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Postby Grumpage » Wed Jul 16, 2008 3:30 am

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Postby Ishtar » Wed Jul 16, 2008 3:34 am

Ishtar of and the .
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Postby Forum Monk » Wed Jul 16, 2008 1:49 pm

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