Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Revisiting Atlantis/Antarctica In Homer

"... on a sea-girt island, where the sea's navel is.
The island is forested, and on it a goddess makes her home,
the daughter of malign Atlas, he who knows the depths
of every sea
and by himself holds the tall pillars
that hold apart heaven and earth
." -- Homer, poet, Odyssey, Book I, 50-54, 8th century B.C.

"... to the island of Ogygia ...." -- Homer, Odyssey, Book I, 85, 8th century

"Instead, he'll [Odysseus] suffer miseries on a well-bound raft
and reach fertile Scheria on the twentieth day,
the land of the Phaeacians, who are close to the gods...." -- Homer, Odyssey, Book V, 33-35, 8th century B.C.

"Even an immortal, after coming there,
would gaze in admiration at what he saw and be delighted in his mind.
Runner Argeiphontes stood there and gazed in admiration." -- Homer, Odyssey, Book V, 73-74, 8th century B.C.

"Who'd run across so much briny water?
It's immense! Nor is there nearby any mortals' city...." -- Homer, Odyssey, Book V, 100-101, 8th century B.C.

"An island, Ogygia, lies far off on the sea.
Atlas' daughter lives there, crafty fair-haired Calypso,
a dread goddess. No one mixes with her,
neither gods nor mortal men.
But a divine one led this wretched one, me, to her hearth
alone, after Zeus impeded and split my swift ship
with white lightning in the midst of the wine-dark sea.
All the rest of my good comrades perished there,
but in my arms I grabbed the double-curved ship's keel
and for nine days I was carried. On the tenth dark night
the gods brought me to the island of Ogygia
." -- Homer, Odyssey, Book VII, 244-254, 8th century B.C.

"'Nine days I was carried from there, and on the tenth night
the gods brought me to the island of Ogygia
.'" -- Homer, Odyssey, Book XII, 447-448, 8th century B.C.

"After this at a distance of ten days' journey there is another hill of salt and spring of water, and men dwell round it. Near this salt hill is a mountain named Atlas, which is small in circuit and rounded on every side; and so exceedingly lofty is it said to be, that it is not possible to see its summits, for clouds never leave them either in the summer or in the winter. This the natives say is the pillar of the heaven. After this mountain these men got their name, for they are called Atlantians; and it is said that they neither eat anything that has life nor have any dreams." -- Herodotus, historian, History, Book IV, 440 B.C.

"For at one moment he [Polybius] quotes the words of the poet, 'Thence for nine whole days was I borne by baneful winds'; and at another moment he suppresses statements. For Homer says also: 'Now after the ship had left the river-stream of Oceanus'; and 'In the island of Ogygia, where is the navel of the sea,' going on to say that the daughter of Atlas lives there; and again, regarding the Phaeacians, 'Far apart we live in the wash of the waves, the farthermost men, and no other mortals are conversant with us.' Now all these incidents are clearly indicated as being placed in fancy in the Atlantic Ocean; but Polybius by suppressing them destroys what the poet states in expressing them. In so doing he is wrong ...." -- Strabo, geographer, The Geography, 7

"The great mainland, by which the great ocean is encircled, while not so far from the other islands, is about five thousand stades from Ogygia, the voyage being made by oar, for the main is slow to traverse and muddy as a result of the multitude of streams. The streams are discharged by the great land-mass and produce alluvial deposits, thus giving density and earthiness to the sea, which has been thought actually to be congealed. On the coast of the mainland Greeks dwell about a gulf which is not smaller than the Maeotis and the mouth of the Caspian sea. These people consider and call themselves continentals and the inhabitants of this land islanders because the sea flows around it on all sides; and they believe that with the peoples of Cronus there mingled at a later time those who arrived in the train of Heracles and were left behind by him and that these latter so to speak rekindled again to a strong, high flame the Hellenic spark there which was already being quenched and overcome by the tongue, the laws, and the manners of the barbarians. Therefore Heracles has the highest honours and Cronos the second. Now when at intervals of thirty years the star of Cronus, which we call 'Splendent' but they, our author said, call 'Night-watchman,' enters the sign of the Bull, they, having spent a long time in preparation for the sacrifice and the expedition, choose by lot and send forth a sufficient number of envoys in a correspondingly sufficient number of ships, putting aboard a large retinue and the provisions necessary for men who are going to cross so much sea by oar and live such a long time in a foreign land. Now when they have put to sea the several voyagers meet with various fortunes as one might expect; but those who survive the voyage first put in at the outlying islands, which are inhabited by Greeks, and see the sun pass out of sight for less than an hour over a period of thirty days, — and this is night, though it has a darkness that is slight and twilight glimmering from the west. There they spend ninety days regarded with honour and friendliness as holy men and so addressed, and then winds carry them across to their appointed goal. Nor do any others inhabit it but themselves and those who have been dispatched before them, for, while those who have served the god together for the stint of thirty years are allowed to sail off home, most of them usually choose to settle in the spot, some out of habit and others because without toil or trouble they have all things in abundance while they constantly employ their time in sacrifices and celebrations or with various discourse and philosophy, for the nature of the island is marvellous as is the softness of the circumambient air. Some when they intend to sail away are even hindered by the divinity which presents itself to them as to intimates and friends not in dreams only or by means of omens, but many also come upon the visions and the voices of spirits manifest. For Cronus himself sleeps confined in a deep cave of rock that shines like gold — the sleep that Zeus has contrived like a bond for him —, and birds flying in over the summit of the rock bring ambrosia to him, and all the island is suffused with fragrance scattered from the rock as from a fountain; and those spirits mentioned before tend and serve Cronus, having been his comrades what time he ruled as king over gods and men. Many things they do foretell of themselves, for they are oracular; but the prophecies that are greatest and of the greatest matters they come down and report as dreams of Cronus, for all that Zeus premeditates Cronus sees in his dreams and the titanic affections and motions of his soul make him rigidly tense until sleep restores his repose once more and the royal and divine element is all by itself, pure and unalloyed. Here then the stranger was conveyed, as he said, and while he served the god became at his leisure acquainted with astronomy, in which he made as much progress as one can by practising geometry, and with the rest of philosophy by dealing with so much of it as is possible for the natural philosopher. Since he had a strange desire and longing to observe the Great Island (for so, it seems, they call our part of the world...." -- Plutarch, historian, Concerning the Face Which Appears In The Orb of the Moon, Chapter 26, 1st century

"896 B.C. Ulysses found Calypso on the island of Ogygia [Antarctica] .... She was the daughter of Atlas, according to Homer. The ancients at length imagined that this island (which they called Atlantis after the name of Atlas) had been as large as all Europe, Africa and Asia, and sank into the sea." -- Isaac Newton, mathematician, Revised History of Ancient Kingdoms, 1727

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