Wednesday, December 28, 2011

TFBT:Homer Says the World is Round

Gregory Nagy in his odyessean volume “The Best of the Achaeans” presents some excellent Homeric arguments that the world is round. [i] Nagy lays these gold crowns at the reader’s feet and then strolls away without comment.

First Nagy begins by discussing Memnon; son of rosy-fingered Eos and King of the Aethiopians. As he puts it, “king of the realms along the banks of the Oceanus in the extreme East and West”

“the Aithiopes, who are divided in two, the most remote of men: Some where Helios sets, others where he rises “ - Odyssey I 23-24
I would like to pick up this argument by posing a question for the imaginative reader, but first two points. 1) If you travel West from holy Delphi for quite a ways, you will discover a happy people called the “Hawaiians”. They live on the shore of the Pacific Ocean and are ruled by Governor Linda Lingle. 2) If you travel East from holy Delphi for some time you will arrive among a group of islanders also called the “Hawaiians”. This happy race also lives on the shores of the Pacific Ocean and is shepherded by the same Governor Linda Lingle. So here is my question wise reader, with the two facts above disclosed do you assume that I’m talking about two different states of the union or that the world is round? Hint; there is no great freshwater river girdling the ancient world. The earth is not flat. Likewise, Memnon ruled on group of people. The world is round.[ii]

The second of Nagy’s points is that “from the overall plot of the Odyssey, we know that Odysseus is wandering in the realms of the extreme West when he come upon the island of Aiaia …Later on the way back the from the underworld, the ship of Odysseus has to leave the Oceanus before returning to Aiaia, which is now described as situated not in the extreme West but in the extreme East.

“the island Aiaia – and there are the abode and dancing places of early-born Eos and the sunrises of Helios” Odyssey XII XXXX
Aiaia can easily be in the far West and the extreme East at the same time if the world is round.

Thirdly, Homer describes tireless Helios as he rises in the East from Oceanus. (Iliad VII 421) Later poets tell of a most magnificent palace of Helios in the east a gift from his grateful friend Hephaestus. Homer speaks only of the gates of Helios in the west, later writers mention a second palace in the west and the golden barge in which the sun god slumbers upon the earth girdling river in route to the east again. Apparently, for Homer Helios’ only home is Aiaia.

And finally to use a non-Homeric example; Jason’s adventures with Medea take place on the eastern edge for the known world, followed quickly by adventures on the far western edge of the world. Later authors came up with some incredible explanation of how this was possible. Robert Graves explains these theories;
“…at first, to have returned from the Black Sea by way of the Danube, the Save, and the Adriatic; then when explorers found that the Save does not enter the Adriatic, a junction was presumed between the Danube and the Po, down which the Argo could have sailed; and when later, the Danube proved to be navigable only up to the Iron Gates and not to join the Po, she was held to have passed up the Phasis into the Caspian Sea and thus into the Indian Ocean and back by way of the Ocean Stream and Lake Tritonis. The feasibility of this third route too, being presently denied, mythographers suggested that the Argo had sailed up the Don, presumed to have its source in the Gulf of Finland from which she could circumnavigate Europe and return to Greece through the Straits of Gibraltar.”[iii]
An easier explanation is that they simply sailed back into the known world by sailing around the smaller Homeric planet. In short, the world is round.

[i] “coincidentia oppositroum” pages 205-207
[ii] Roll up a map by Anaximander or Hecataeus of Miletus. Compare two points on that map to a world atlas for a ratio. My estimate is a circumference of 3700 miles
[iii] Robert Graves, The Greek Myths Vol. 2 pages 243-244

1 comment:

  1. "Yes you heard me right. The world is round in the bigger version of Homer. ". Dr. Gregory Nagy, starting at 11:45 in a presentation given on November 19, 2015

    Sent from my iPad