This is a brilliant, fascinating, well argued and convincing book and the meat of the argument is perfectly spiced with anecdotes about the author's own adventures.
The route that Bradford suggests makes sense both in terms of directions, times and likely speeds, and the descriptions of land. In short, Bradford suggests Ulysses travelled north from Troy to raid the Thracian coast near Mount Ismaro. He was then driven by a storm to the Island of Djerba off the Libyan coast, the Land of the Lotus Eaters. He then travelled north to the land of the Cyclopes in SE Sicily, north to Ustica (the Island of Aeoleus) and again north to Bonifacio on southern Corsica, the Land of the Laestrygonians. He then travelled east to Circe's island (actually a headland) on the Italian coast north of Naples. After Circe he travelled west through the r (to the Land of the Dead) and then back to Circe. Leaving her again he went via the Isles of the Sirens (just south of the Sorrento peninsula) through the Messian straits (Scylla and Charybdis) to Taormina in Sicily where grazed the Cattle of the Sun. He spent years on Calypsos island (Malta) before finally travelling home via Corfu (the Land of the Phaeacians).
I've created a series of maps for this which can be found here
- Odysseus means ‘son of wrath’. But Ulysses derives from Olysseus which comes from O Lukos, ‘the wolf’
- When young U is wounded in the thigh by a boar in a hunting accident. “This wounding in the thigh seems to equate him with a number of eastern gods, Tammuz, Adonis, and Cretan Zeus, all of whom were wounded and killed by a boar. These stories all stem from a Phoenician source.”
- “The rudder, as we know it today, was a north European invention, and probably originated in the Baltic. This axled, hinged rudder was still considered something of a modern invention when used in the caravels of Henry the Navigator in the early 15th century. It was unknown in the classical world.”
- Odyssey ca C12 BC: “ the Cretan, or Minoan, seapower had collapsed before invaders from the north ... the Phoenicians had not yet founded their colonies on the North African coast.”
- Polyphemus has ‘eyebrows’ in the Odyssey: “It is not till later times that he becomes monophthalmic.”
- “Garlic itself has long been associated with magical properties ... s late as the 14th century ... we find that garlic was reputed to neutralize the lodestone, thus putting the magnetic compass out of action.”
- “Comparatively few rivers of any size flow into the Mediterranean, and it loses by evaporation two-thirds more than it receives from its rivers. This steady loss is made good by an inflow of water from the Atlantic.” This will allow U to drift back to the Med after visiting the ‘land of the dead’.
- “The two mountains which face each other across the Strait were called ‘The Pillars of Melkarth’ by the Phoenicians. They took their name from the twin pillars of the great temple of Melkarth in the city of Tyre. ... Melkarth was not only a sea god in Phoenician mythology, he was also Lord of the Underworld, and it was between the pillars of the Strait of Gibraltar that he was believed to dwell.” which is why C sent U to Gibraltar to go into the Underworld.
- “Baltic Amber was being imported overland into prehistoric Greece centuries before the Homeric period.”
- “It was the Phoenicians who first gave the island its name, Maleth or Malet - the Shelter, Haven, or Hiding Place ... the word ‘Calypso’ in Greek means ‘hidden’ or ‘hider’, and the Homeric words for Calypso’s isle, Neesos Kalupsous, can best be translated in English as ‘The Island of the Hiding Place’.”
- “The Maltese archipelago was inhabited many centuries before the basin of the Mediterranean was flooded.”
- “I do not think that anything is lost by attempting to find a skeleton - however magnificent the cupboard that hides it.”
- “Ulysses was the shopkeeper with his thumb on the scales, and an eye for the girls, handy with a knife in a dark alley, and at the same time in some strange fashion or other, capable of honesty - or was it of great consistency? - over most of the major issues.”
- “When men return from war it is their record as fighting men which usually determines their immediate position in society. Inevitably within a short time the standards of judgement change, so that often the war hero turns out to be a peace-time failure.”
- “In Trapani I have felt history as heavy as a plush curtain. ... One's own life is seen as no more than a minute drop of resin oozing from the trunk of some giant tree.”
- “Places are little in themselves, you must earn them by your voyage.”
A wonderful voyage.
November 2018; 221 pages