Homer, The Odyssey: Ulysses (Odysseus) killing the suitors of his wife Penelope on the island of Ithaca. Photo: Culture Club/Getty Images.
Astrophysicists have identified the date the suitors of Penelope were killed
The date on which the mythical Odysseus killed the suitors of Penelope has been identified by a group of astrophysicists.
According to Kathimerini news, this new attempt at dating the Homeric epics compared physical events described in the epics with astronomical phenomena.
As a result, the dates of some events narrated in the epics are being specified, and a new concept for their historicity is being created, with the aim of shedding some more light on the Homeric question. “We believe that the myth revolves around actual events,” Panagiota Preka-Papadima, professor of astrophysics at the University of Athens, told Kathimerini.
The multidisciplinary team, which has publications in international journals, believes some of the events described did occur, and has proved that the natural phenomena mentioned coincide with the time of their narration.
“Odysseus arrived in Ithaca on 25 October, 1207BC. Five days later there was an eclipse with 75 per cent coverage in the Ionian sea, and it is precisely when the massacre of Penelope’s suitors took place,” says Papadima. She is entirely convinced of the truthfulness of the described event.
The occurrence of the solar eclipse at that time has been proven with maps by NASA, describing foreseeable natural phenomena from 4500BC to AD10,000.
“Between 1300BC and 1130BC, the years during which the two epics take place, there were 14 solar eclipses. Of the five that would have been visible in the Ionian, two of them had a rate of two per cent helium and therefore were not noticed. Another was west of the sun, so our concern is only with two,” explains Papadima.
A total solar eclipse took place in 1143BC, close to the decline of the Mycenaean centres and therefore excluded by the scientists. The second took place on 30 October, 1207BC, in the afternoon until 5.30 pm, reflected in The Odyssey.
In Rhapsody PC, The Odyssey’s 20th book, which recounts the events which unfold prior to the killing of the suitors, Theoclymenus says:
“Ah, wretched men, what evil is this that you suffer? Shrouded in night are your heads and your faces and your knees beneath you; kindled is the sound of wailing, bathed in tears are your cheeks, and sprinkled with blood are the walls and the fair rafters. And full of ghosts is the porch and full the court, of ghosts that hasten down to Erebus beneath the darkness, and the sun has perished out of heaven and an evil mist hovers over all.”
“This is an account of the eclipse, which hid three-quarters of the solar disc,” says Papadima.
She believes the date is fully consistent with the weather, the autumn agricultural life and the midday time of the suitors’ murder as described by Homer.
The multidisciplinary team investigating the epics comprises Professors S. Papamarinopoulos, P. Preka-Papadima, assistant professor of astrophysics at the University of Athens, and researchers P. Antonopoulos, natural and amateur astronomer; P. Mitropetro, philologist and teacher; E. Mitropetrou, philologist and archaeologist; A. Tsironi, philologist and archaeologist and C. Sarantitis, writer, electrical and mechanical.