(Felice Vinci)


Ever since ancient times, Homeric geography has given rise to problems and uncertainty. The conformity of towns, countries and islands, which the poet often describes with a wealth of detail, with the traditional Mediterranean places is usually only partial or even non-existent. We find various cases in Strabo (Greek geographer and historian, 63 B.C.-23 A.D.), who, for example, cannot understand why the island of Pharos, situated right in front of the port of Alexandria, in the Odyssey unexplainably appears to lie a day's sail from Egypt. There is also the question of the location of Ithaca, which, according to very precise Odyssey's indications, is the westernmost in an archipelago which includes three main islands, Dulichium, Same and Zacynthus. This does not correspond to the geographical reality of the Greek Ithaca in the Ionian Sea, located north of Zacynthus, east of Cephalonia and south of Leucas. And then, what of Peloponnese which is described in both poems as being a plain?

In other words, Homeric geography refers to a context with a toponymy with which we are quite familiar, but which, if compared with the actual physical layout of the Greek world, reveals glaring anomalies, which are hard to explain, also considering their consistency throughout the two poems. For example, that "strange" Peloponnese appears to be a plain not sporadically but regularly, and Dulichium, the "Long Island" (in Greek "dolichòs" means "long"), which is located by the Odyssey in the vicinity of Ithaca, is repeatedly mentioned also in the Iliad, but cannot be found in the Mediterranean. Thus we are confronted with a world which appears actually closed and inaccessible, apart from some occasional convergence, although the names are familiar (which, however, tend to be more misleading than helpful in solving the problem).

A possible key to finally penetrating this puzzling world is provided by Plutarch (Greek author, 46-120 A.D.). In his work De facie quae in orbe lunae apparet ("The face that appears in the moon circle"), chap. 26, he makes a surprising statement: the island of Ogygia, (where Calypso held Ulysses back for a long time before allowing him to return to Ithaca) is located in the North Atlantic Ocean, "five days by ship from Britain".

Plutarch's indications allow us to identify Ogygia with one of the Faroe Islands (where we also come across an island with a curiously Greek-sounding name: Mykines) and, starting from here, the route eastwards, which Ulysses follows (Book V of the Odyssey) in his voyage from Ogygia to Scheria allows us to locate the latter, i.e. the land of the Phaeacians, on the southern coast of Norway, in an area perfectly fitting the account of his arrival, where archaeological traces of the Bronze Age are plentiful. In addition, on the one hand in Old Norse "sker" means a "sea rock", on the other in the narrative of Ulysses's landing Homer introduces the reversal of the river current, which is unknown in the Mediterranean world but is typical of the Atlantic estuaries during flood tide.

From here the Phaeacians took Ulysses to Ithaca, located on the far side of an archipelago, which Homer talks about in great detail. At this point, a series of precise parallels makes it possible to identify a group of Danish islands, in the south of the Baltic Sea, which correspond exactly to all Homer's indications. Actually, the South-Fyn Archipelago includes three main islands: Langeland (the "Long Island"; which finally unveils the puzzle of the mysterious island of Dulichium), Aerø (which corresponds perfectly to Homeric Same) and Tåsinge (ancient Zacynthus). The last island in the archipelago, located westwards, "facing the night", is Ulysses's Ithaca, now known as Lyø. It is astonishing how greatly it coincides with the indications of the poet, not only as far as its position is concerned, but also its topographical and morphological characteristics: for example, one can identify the ancient "Phorcys's Harbour" and the "Crow's Rock" (which corresponds to a Neolithic dolmen standing in the west of the island). And here, amongst this group of islands, we can even identify the little island "in the strait between Ithaca and Same", where the Penelope's suitors tried to waylay Telemachus.

Moreover, the Elis, i.e. one of the regions of Peloponnese, is described as lying to the east of Ithaca and in front of Dulichium. It is easily identifiable with a part of the large Danish island of Zealand. Therefore, the latter is the original "Peloponnese", i.e. "Pelops's Island", in the real meaning of the word "island" ("nêsos" in Greek)! On the other hand, the Greek Peloponnese (which is located in a similar position in the Aegean Sea, i.e. in its southwestern side) is not an island despite its denomination. This contradiction, which is inexplicable unless we suppose a transposition of the name, is very significant. Furthermore, the details reported in the Odyssey regarding both Telemachus's quick journey by chariot from Pylos to Lacedaemon, along "a wheat-producing plain", and the development of the war between Pylians and Epeans, as narrated by Nestor in Book XI of the Iliad, have always been considered inconsistent with Greece's uneven orography. They fit in perfectly, however, with the reality of the flat Danish island.

Now let us turn to the region of Troy. In the Iliad it is located along Hellespont which is systematically described as being a "wide" or even "boundless" sea. We can, therefore, exclude the fact that it refers to the Dardanelles, where the city found by Schliemann lies. The identification of this city with Homer's Troy continues to raise strong doubts: we only have to think of Finley's criticism in the World of Odysseus. On the other hand, the Danish Medieval historian Saxo Grammaticus in his Gesta Danorum often mentions a population known as "Hellespontians" and a region called Hellespont, which, strangely enough, seems to be located in the east of the Baltic Sea. Could it be Homer's Hellespont? We can identify it with the Gulf of Finland, which is the "geographic counterpart" of the Dardanelles (as a matter of fact, both of them lie to the Northeast in their respective seas). Since Troy, according to the Iliad, was situated Northeast of the sea (here is another reason to dispute Schliemann's location), then it seems reasonable, for the purpose of this research, to go over a region of southern Finland, where the Gulf of Finland joins the Baltic Sea. In this area, west of Helsinki, we find lots of name-places which astonishingly resemble those mentioned in the Iliad and, in particular, those given to the allies of the Trojans: Askainen (Ascanius), Reso (Rhesus), Karjaa (Caria), Nästi (Nastes, the chief of the Carians), Lyökki (Lycia), Tenala (Tenedos), Kiila (Cilla), Kiikoinen (Ciconians) etc. There is also a Padva, which reminds us of Italian Padua, which was founded, according to tradition, by the Trojan Antenor and lies in the region of Veneto (the "Eneti" or "Veneti" were allies of the Trojans). What is more, the place-names Tanttala and Sipilä (the mythical King Tantalus, famous for his torment, was buried on Mount Sipylus) indicate that this matter is not only limited to Homeric geography, but seems to extend to the whole world of Greek mythology.

What about Troy? Right in the middle of this area, half way between Helsinki and Turku, we discover that King Priam's city has survived the Achaean sack and fire. Its characteristics correspond exactly to those given to us by Homer, i.e. the hilly area which dominates the valley with its two rivers, the plain which slopes down towards the coast and the highlands in the background. It has even maintained its own name nearby unchanged throughout all this time. Today, "Toija" is a peaceful Finnish village, unaware of its glorious and tragic past.

Various trips to these places from July 11, 1992 onwards, have confirmed the extraordinary correspondence between the Iliad's descriptions and the area surrounding Toija. What is more, there we come across many significant traces of the Bronze Age. Incredibly, towards the sea we find a place called Aijala, which recalls the "beach" ("aigialòs"), where, according to Homer, the Achaeans beached their ships (Il. XIV, 34). The correspondence extends as far as the neighbouring areas. Along the Swedish coast, for example, in front of Toija, 70 km north of Stockholm, the long and relatively narrow Bay of Norrtälje recalls Homeric Aulis, from where the Achaean fleet set sail for Troy. Nowadays, ferries leave here for Finland, following the same ancient course. They pass off the island of Lemland, whose name reminds us of ancient Lemnos, where the Achaeans stopped and abandoned the hero Philoctetes. Nearby, there is also Åland, the largest island of the homonymous archipelago, which probably coincides with Samothrace, the mythical site of the metalworking mysteries. The adjacent Gulf of Bothnia is easily identifiable with Homer's Thracian Sea, and the ancient Thrace, which the poet places to the northwest of Troy on the opposite side of the sea, probably lay along the northern Swedish coast and its hinterland (it is remarkable that a Norse saga identifies Thrace with the home of the god Thor). Further south, outside the Gulf of Finland, the island of Hiiumaa, situated opposite the Esthonian coast, corresponds exactly to Homer's Chios, which the Odyssey places on the return course of the Achaean fleet after the war.

In short, apart from the morphological characteristics of this area, the geographic position of this Finnish Troas fits the mythological directions like a glove. We finally come to understand why a "thick fog" often fell on those fighting on the Trojan plain and why Ulysses's sea was never as bright as that of the Greek islands, but always "grey" and "misty". As we travel through Homer's world, we experience the harsh weather which is typical of the Nordic world. The weather described throughout has little to do with the Mediterranean climate, with its fog, wind, rain, cold temperatures and snow (which falls on the plains and even out to sea) whilst the sun and warm temperatures are mentioned hardly ever. Most of the time we find unsettled weather, to the point that the bronze-clad fighting warriors invoke cloudless sky during the battle! We are far away from the torrid Anatolian lowlands. The way in which Homer's characters are dressed is in perfect keeping with this kind of climate. They wear tunics and "thick, heavy cloaks" which they never remove, not even during banquettes. This attire corresponds exactly to the remains of clothing found in Bronze Age Danish graves, down to details as the metal brooch which pined the cloak on the shoulder.

This northern collocation also explains the huge anomaly of the great battle which takes up the central books of the Iliad. The battle continues for two days (XI, 86; XVI, 777) and one night (XVI, 567). The fact that the darkness does not put a stop to the fighting is incomprehensible in the Mediterranean world. Instead, the faint night light, which is typical of high latitudes during the summer solstice, allows Patroclus's fresh troops to carry on fighting through to the following day, without a break. This interpretation - which is confirmed by the overflowing of the Scamander during the following battle, given that in the northern regions these phenomena occur just in that period owing to the thaw - allows us to reconstruct the whole battle in a coherent and logical manner, dispelling the present-day perplexities and strained interpretations. Furthermore, we even manage to pick out from a passage in the Iliad the Greek word used to denominate the faintly lit nights characteristic of the regions located near the Arctic Circle: the "amphilyke nyx" (VII, 433) is a real "linguistic fossil" which, thanks to the Homeric epos, has survived the transfer of the Achaeans to Southern Europe.

It is also important to note that the Trojan walls, as described by Homer, were alike to rustic fences made of wood and stone. They resemble the archaic Nordic wooden enclosures (such as the Kremlin Walls up to the XV century) much more than the mighty strongholds of the Mediterranean civilizations.

Let us now examine the so-called Catalogue of Ships from Book II of the Iliad, which lists the twenty-nine Achaean fleets participating in the Trojan War together with names of their captains and places of origin. This list unwinds in an anticlockwise direction, starting from Central Sweden, travelling along the Baltic coasts and finishing in Finland. If we combine this with the directions contained in the two poems, as well as in the rest of Greek mythology, we get to completely reconstruct the Achaean world around the Baltic Sea, where, as attested by the archaeology, a thriving Bronze Age was flourishing in the second millennium B.C., favoured by a warmer climate than today's.

In this new geographical context, the entire universe belonging to Homer and Greek mythology finally discloses itself with its astonishing consistency. For example, by following the Catalogue's sequence, we immediately locate Boeotia (corresponding to Stockholm's region), where it is possible to identify Oedipus's Thebes and the mythical Mount Nysa (which was never found in the Greek world) where baby Dionysus was nursed by the Hyads. Homer's Euboea coincides with the modern day island of Öland, located off the Swedish coast in a similar position to that of its Mediterranean correspondent. Mythological Athens, Theseus's native land, lay in the present day area of Karlskrona in southern Sweden. This explains why Plato referred to it as being a rolling plain full of rivers in his dialogue Critias, which is totally alien to Greece's rough morphology. Nevertheless, the features of other Achaean cities, such as Mycenae or Calydon, as described by Homer also appear completely different from those of their namesakes on Greek soil; in particular, Mycenae lay in the site of today's Copenhagen, where the island of Amager possibly recalls its ancient name and explains why the latter was in the plural.

We rediscover Agamemnon's and Menelaus's kingdoms and Arcadia on the flat island of Zealand (i.e. Homeric "Peloponnese"), where we also find the River Alpheus and King Nestor's Pylos, whose location were held to be a mystery even by the ancient Greeks. By setting Homer's poems in the Baltic, also this age-old puzzle is solved at once! Here the Catalogue links up with Ithaca's archipelago, which we had already identified by making use of directions supplied by the Odyssey. We are thus able to verify the consistency of the information contained in the two poems as well as their congruity with the Baltic geography (here it is easy to solve also the problem of the strange border between Argolis and Pylos, which is attested in the Iliad but is "impossible" in the Greek world).

After Ithaca, the list continues with the Aetolians, who recall the ancient Jutes. They gave their name to Jutland, which actually lies near the South-Fyn Islands. Homer mentions Pylene in the Aetolian cities, which corresponds to today's Plön, in North Germany, not far from Jutland. Opposite this area, in the North Sea, the name of Heligoland, one of the North Frisian Islands, reminds Helike, a sanctuary of the god Poseidon mentioned in the Iliad.

What about Crete, the "vast land" with "a hundred cities" and many rivers, which is never referred to as an island by Homer? As a matter of fact, it corresponds to present Pomeranian region in the southern Baltic area, which stretches from the German coast to the Polish one. This explains why in the rich pictorial productions of the Minoan civilisation, which flourished in Aegean Crete, we do not find any hint at Greek mythology and ships are so scantily represented. It would also be tempting to assume a relationship between the name "Polska" and the Pelasgians, the inhabitants of Homeric Crete. At this point, it is also easy to identify Naxos (where Theseus left Ariadne on his return journey from Crete to Athens) with the island of Bornholm, situated between Poland and Sweden, where the town of Neksø still recalls the ancient name. Likewise, we discover that the Odyssey's "River Egypt" probably coincides with the present-day Vistula, thus revealing the real origin of the name given by the Greeks to Pharaohs' land, known as "Kem" in local language. This explains the incongruous position of the Homeric Egyptian Thebes, which, according to the Odyssey, is queerly located near the sea. Evidently the Egyptian capital, which on the contrary lies hundreds of kilometres from the Nile delta and was originally known as Wò'se, was renamed by the Achaeans with the name of Baltic city, once they moved down to the Mediterranean. On the other hand, Homer's Thebes probably corresponds to the present-day Tczew, on the Vistula delta. To the north of the latter, in the centre of the Baltic Sea, the island of Fårö reminds the Homeric Pharos, which according to the Odyssey lay in the middle of the sea at a day's sail from "Egypt" (whereas Mediterranean Pharos is not even a mile's distance rom the port of Alexandria). Thus we solve another of the problems that tormented poor Strabo.

The Catalogue of Ships now touches the Baltic Republics. Hellas lay on the coast of present-day Esthonia, therefore, next to Homeric Hellespont (i.e. the "Helle Sea"), the present Gulf of Finland. In this area, scholars have come across legends which present interesting parallels with Greek mythology. Phthia, Achilles's homeland, lay on the fertile hills of southeastern Esthonia, along the border with Latvia and Russia, stretching as far as the Russian river Velikaja and the lake of Pskov. Myrmidons and Phthians lived there, ruled by Achilles and Protesilaus (the first Achaean captain who fell in the Trojan War) respectively.

Next, proceeding with the sequence, we reach the Finnish coast, facing the Gulf of Bothnia, where we find Jolkka, which reminds us of Iolcus, Jason's mythical city. Further north, we are also able to identify the region of Olympus, Styx and Pieria in the Finnish Lapland (which in turn recalls the Homeric Lapithae, i.e. the sworn enemies of the Centaurs who also lived in this area). This location of Pieria north of the Arctic Circle is confirmed by an apparent astronomical anomaly, linked to the moon cycles, which is found in the Homeric Hymn to Hermes: it can only be explained by high latitude. The "Home of Hades" was even further northwards, on the icy coasts of Russian Karelia: here Ulysses arrived, whose journeys represent the last vestige of prehistoric routes in an era which was characterised by a very warmer climate than today's.

In conclusion, from this review of the Baltic world, we find its astonishing consistency with the Catalogue of Ships as well as the entire Greek mythology (Tab. 1). It is very unlikely that this immense set of geographical, climatic, toponymical and morphological parallels is to be ascribed to mere chance, apart from considering the glaring contradictions arising in the Mediterranean setting.

Therefore, here is the "secret" which has been hidden inside Homer's poems up to now and explains all oddities of Homeric geography: the Trojan War and other events handed down by Greek mythology were not set in the Mediterranean, but in the Baltic area, i.e. the primitive home of the blond "long-haired" Achaeans. On this subject, the distinguished Swedish scholar, Professor Martin P. Nilsson, in his works (Homer and Mycenae and The Minoan-Mycenaean Religion and its Survival in Greek Religion) reports a series of pieces of archaeological evidence uncovered in the Mycenaean sites in Greece, supporting the fact that the Achaean population came from the North. Some examples are: the existence of a large quantity of baltic amber in the most ancient Mycenaean tombs in Greece (which is not to be ascribed to trade, because the amber is very scarce in later graves as well as in the coeval Minoan tombs in Crete); the typically Nordic features of their architecture (the Mycenaean megaron "is identical to the hall of the ancient Scandinavian Kings"); the "striking similarity" of two stone slabs found in a tomb in Dendra "with the menhirs known from the Bronze Age of Central Europe"; the Nordic-type skulls found in the necropolis of Kalkani, etc. A remarkable affinity between Aegean art and some Scandinavian remains dating back to the Bronze Age has also been noted, with particular regard to the figures engraved on Kivik's tomb in Sweden, to the point that a scholar in the nineteenth century suggested that this monument was built by the Phoenicians!

Another sign of the Achaean presence in the Nordic world in a very distant past is a Mycenaean graffito found in the megalithic complex of Stonehenge in Southern England. Other remains revealing the Mycenaean influence were found in the same area ("Wessex culture"), which date back to a period preceding the Mycenaean civilisation in Greece. A trace of this sort of contact can be found also in the Odyssey, which mentions a bronze market placed overseas, in a foreign country, named "Temese", never found in the Mediterranean area. Since bronze is an alloy of copper and tin, which in the North is only found in Cornwall, it's very likely that the mysterious Temese corresponds to the Thames, named "Tamesis" or "Tamensim" in ancient times. So, following the Odyssey, we learn that, during the Bronze Age, the ancient Scandinavians used to sail to Temese/Thames - "placed overseas, in a foreign country" (Od. I, 183-184) - to supply themselves with bronze.

And what about Odysseus's trips, after the Trojan War? When he is about to reach Ithaca, a storm takes him away from his world; so he has many adventures in fabulous localities until he reaches Ogygia, that's Faroe. They are located out of the Baltic, in the North Atlantic (he also meets the "Ocean River", that's the Gulf Stream). For example, the Eolian island, where there is the "King of the winds", "son of the Knight", is one of the Shetlands (maybe Yell), where there are strong winds and ponies. Cyclops lived in the coast of Norway (near Tosenfjorden: the name of their mother is Toosa): they coincide with the Trolls of the Norwegian folklore. The land of Lestrigonians was in the same coast, towards the North; Homer says that there the days are very long (actually, the famous scholar Robert Graves places the Lestrigonians in the North of Norway! In that area we find the island Lamøj, the homeric Lamos). The island of sorceress Circe, where there are the midnight sun and the rotating dawns ("the dancing of the Dawn", as Homer says), is Jan Mayen (at that time the climate was quite different). The strange "wandering rocks" are icebergs. Charybdis is the well-known whirlpool named Maelström, near Lofoten. South of Charybdis Odysseus meets the island Thrinakia, that means "trident": really, near the Maelström Vaerøy, three-tip island, lies. Sirens are very dangerous shoals for sailors, who are attracted by the misleading noise of the backwash (the "Sirens' song" is a metaphor similar to Norse "kennings") and deceive themselves that landing is at hand, instead, if they get near, are bound to shipwreck on the reefs. So, these adventures, presumably taken from tales of ancient seamen and elaborated again by the Poet's fantasy, represent the last memory of the oceanic routes followed by the ancient navigators of the Nordic Bronze Age, but they became unrecognizable because of their transposition into a totally different context. Besides, we can find remarkable parallels between Greek and Norse mythology: for example, Ulysses is similar to Ull, archer and warrior of Norse mythology, the sea giant Aegaeon (who gave his name to the Aegean Sea) is the counterpart of the Norse sea god Aegir.

We can even try to link directly Homeric and Norse mythology: actually, the latter states that Odin came from Troy (the Finnish location of Homeric Troy, of course, makes this piece of news more credible). He maybe was a successor of King Priam on the throne of Troy, and lived at the time of the terrible Ragnarok, i.e. a climatic upsetting probably aroused by the explosion of the volcano of Thera, in Eastern Mediterranean Sea, in 1630 B.C.. This phenomenon affected the whole planet and probably triggered the Mycenaean migration (which happened just in those years) towards the South. Afterwards Odin was deified, taking some features of goddess Athene (whose he is almost homonymous: Othin = Athene): they are both gods of war and wisdom, with a spear and a bird (the rook and the little owl respectively). Also his strange horse with eight legs possibly is a vestige of the Bronze Age, when the knights did not ride but used a chariot with two horses (here are the eight legs, that probably were inspired by some ancient image).

The period in which Homer's poems are set is close to the end of an exceptionally hot climate that had lasted several thousands of years, the "post-glacial climatic optimum". It corresponds to the "Atlantic phase" of the Holocene, when temperatures in northern Europe were much higher than today (at that time the broad-leaved forests reached the Arctic Circle and the tundra disappeared even from the northernmost areas of Europe). It reached its climax around 2500 B.C. and began to drop around 2000 B.C. ("subboreal phase"), until it came to an end some centuries later.

Therefore, it is highly likely that this was the cause that obliged the Achaeans to move down to the Mediterranean for this reason. They probably followed the Dnieper river down to the Black Sea, as the Vikings (whose culture is, in many ways, quite similar) did many centuries later. The Mycenaean civilisation, not native of Greece, was thus born and went on to flourish from the XVII or XVI century B.C., soon after the change in North European climate.

Incidentally, this is the same age as the arising of Aryan, Hyksos, Hittite and Cassite settlements in India, Egypt, Anatolia and Mesopotamia respectively. In a word, this theory can explain the cause of the contemporary migrations of other Indo-European populations (following a recent research carried on by Prof. Jahanshah Derakhshani of Teheran University, the Hyksos very likely belong to the Indo-European family). In a word, the original homeland of the Indo-Europeans was most likely located in the furthest North of Europe, when the climate was much warmer than today's. However, on the one hand G.B. Tilak in The Arctic home of the Vedas claims the Arctic origin of the Aryans, "cousins" of the Achaeans, on the other both Iranian and Norse mythology (Avesta and Edda respectively) remember that the original homeland was destroyed by cold and ice. It is also remarkable that, following Tilak (The Orion), the original Aryan civilization flourished in the "Orionic period", when the Spring equinox was rising in the Orion constellation. It actually happened in the period from 4000 up to 2500 B.C., i.e. during the "climatic optimum". We also note the presence of a population known as the Thocarians in the Tarim Basin (northwest China) from the beginning of the II millennium B.C. They spoke an Indo-European language and were tall, blond with Caucasian features. This dating provides us with yet another confirmation of the close relationship between the decline of the "climatic optimum" and the Indo-European Diaspora from Scandinavia and other Northern regions. In this picture, it is amazing that the Bronze Age starts in China just between the XVIII and the XVI century B.C. (Shang dynasty). We should note that the Chinese pictograph indicating the king is called "wang", which is very similar to the Homeric term "anax", i.e. "the king" (corresponding to "wanax" in Mycenaean Linear B tablets). On the other hand, the terms "Yin" and "Yang" (which express two complementary principles of Chinese philosophy: Yin is feminine, Yang masculine) could be compared with the Greek roots "gyn-" and "andr-" respectively, which also refer to the "woman" and the "man" ("anér edé gyné", "man and woman", Od. VI, 184). In this picture we could dare to insert the Olmecs, too, who seem to have reached the southern Gulf Coast of Mexico about in the same period; if this will be confirmed, one could infer that they were a population who formerly lived in some region in the farthest north of America, where they could have been connected with the Scandinavian Proto-Indo-European civilization through the Arctic Ocean, which during the "climatic optimum" was free from ice. Then they moved to Mexico when the climate collapsed (this, of course, could help to explain certain similarities with the Old World, apart from other possible contacts).

Returning to Homer, this reconstruction* does not only explain the extraordinary consistency between the Baltic-Scandinavian context and Homer's world, but also clarifies why the latter was decidedly more archaic than the Mycenaean civilisation. Evidently, the contact with the refined Mediterranean cultures favoured its rapid evolution, also considering their marked inclination for trade and seafaring, which pervades not only the Homeric poems, but also all Greek mythology. This is hard to explain with the hypotheses in vogue about the continental origin of the Indo-Europeans, whereas the remains found in England fit in very well with the idea of a previous seaboard homeland (by matching this with the typically northern features of their architecture, as the scholars assert, we remove any doubt as to their place of origin).

On the other hand, Stuart Piggott, famous scholar and archaeologist, states: "The nobility of the [Homeric] hexameters shouldn't deceive us inducing us to believe that the Iliad and the Odyssey are something different from the poems of the largely barbaric Europe during the Bronze Age and the Early Iron Age". Soon afterwards he quotes an extremely significant statement of Rhys Carpenter: "No Minoic or Asian blood runs in the veins of the Greek Muses: they are far away from the Cretan-mycenaean world. Rather they are in contact with the European elements of Greek culture and language... behind Mycenaean Greece... Europe lies" (Ancient Europe, chap. IV).

It was, therefore, along the Baltic coast that Homer's events took place, presumably about the beginning of the second millennium B.C., when the "climatic optimum" collapsed, before the Achaean migration towards the Mediterranean and the consequent rise of the Mycenaean civilisation in Greece (this explains why any reliable information regarding the author, or authors, of the poems had already been lost before the classical times). The migrants took their epos and geography along with them and attributed the same names they had left behind in their lost homeland to the various places where they eventually settled. This heritage was immortalized by Homer's poems and Greek mythology, which on the one hand has a lot of similarities with the Nordic one, on the other seems to have lost the memory of the great migration from the North (this probably happened after the collapse of the Mycenaean civilisation, around the XII century B.C.). Moreover, they went as far as renaming other Mediterranean regions with corresponding Baltic names, such as Libya, Crete and Egypt, thus creating an enormous "geographical misunderstanding" which has lasted till now.

These transpositions were encouraged, if not suggested, by a certain similarity between the geography of the Baltic and that of the Aegean. We only have to think about the analogy between Öland and Euboea or between Zealand and Peloponnese (where, as we have already seen, they forced the concept of island in order to maintain the original layout). This phenomenon was then consolidated over the centuries by the increasing presence of Greek-speaking populations in the Mediterranean basin, from the time of the Mycenaean civilisation to the Hellenistic-Roman period.

* Exposed in the book: Felice Vinci, Omero nel Baltico ("Homer in the Baltic"), with Introductions by R. Calzecchi Onesti and F. Cuomo, Rome 1998 (R. Calzecchi Onesti is a scholar and translator of Homeric poems into Italian; F. Cuomo is a scholar and writer).

Publisher: Fratelli Palombi Editori - Via dei Gracchi 183 - 00192 Rome

ISBN: 88-7621-211-6

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