A NEW ASTRONOMICAL DATING OF ODYSSEUS’ RETURN TO ITHACA

St. P. Papamarinopoulos1, P. Preka-Papadema2, P. Antonopoulos3*,
H. Mitropetrou1, A.Tsironi1 and P. Mitropetros2
1 University of Patras, Department of Geology, 26504 Rio Patras, Greece
2 University of Athens, Department of Astrophysics, Astronomy and Mechanism, Faculty of
Physics, 15784 Athens, Greece
3 University of Patras, Department of Physics, 26504 Rio Patras, Greece
Corresponding author: antonopoulos.pan@gmail.com
Received: 31/10/2011
Accepted: 02/12/2012
KEYWORDS: Homer’s Odyssey, Theoclymenus’ prophecy, solar eclipse, guiding constellations,
Venus
Mediterranean Arhaeology and Archaeometry, Vol. 12, No 1, pp.117-128
Copyright © 2012 MAA
Printed in Greece. All rights reserved.
INTRODUCTION
In ancient Greece it was known what a
genuine myth meant. For instance,
Ploutarchus (Fragmenta 157) says the following:
“The old physical science for both, the
Greeks and the Barbarians is natural logos
(logos in antiquity meant fact) hidden deeply
within myths”. Much earlier than
Plutarchus, Plato, in the 4th century B.C.,
defined Science in Phaedrus (277.b.5-
277.c.3) and mythology in Timaeus and
Critias (110.a.2-110.a.4). Plato himself knew
the difference between genuine and fabricated
myth. He wrote it in Timaeus and
Critias (26.e.4-26.e.5) and in Republic
(Resp.377.b.6-377.b.6) respectively. Plato in
the Republic (Resp., 379.a.1) says that “it is
appropriate for the founders to know the patterns
on which the poets must base their stories and
from which they must not deviate”. This phrase
means that in antiquity some of the poets
were deviating, from time to time, from the
recorded tradition which passed orally to
them, and they had to be told.
Homer is not different in this context.
This means that some of his passages might
not be but mere fantasies. However, Kraft et
al (2003) offered compliments to Homer
saying characteristically the following. “The
reality of Homer’s description of place, event,
and topography correlated with geologic investigation
helps show that the Iliad is not legend
but regularly consistent with palaeogeographic
reconstructions.” Kraft et al (2003) does not
understand the subtle difference between
legend and fabricated myth from the stand
point of ancient Greek authors and for this
reason he calls it legend. The correct word
would be paramyth meaning fabricated
myth. Moreover, in the volume “Science and
Technology in Homeric Epics” (2008) there are
numerous papers in which Homer has been
tested, with the principles of science, repeatedly
and found correct.
Also, a number of authors have considered
different astronomical aspects, facts
and allusions in the Homeric Epics (Theodosiou
et al. 2011). However, ancient researcher
Heraclitus of Pontus (Allegories,
75, 1, 1-9, 3) had long recognized and explained
the passage Od.20.356-357 as a solar
eclipse. He was the first to suggest that the
Odyssey person, called Theoclymenus, described
an incoming solar eclipse to suitors,
hours before its occurrence and before their
death.
One of us, Papamarinopoulos (2008) and
two other authors Baikouzis & Magnasco
(2008) independently to each other, had
proposed the 16th of April of 1178 yr B.C.
(JD 1291264) as the day Odysseus returned
to Ithaca. All the three, mentioned above,
have interpreted Homer’s passage
Od.20.356-357: and the sun has perished out of
heaven and an evil mist covers all, as a spring`s
total eclipse event. They based their interpretation
on NASA/Espenak and other
studies respectively. However, all the three,
authors had ignored other significant diagnostic
information mentioned by Homer.
Before we focus in the Odyssey`s passages
we studied initially what the ancient
Greek authors, archeologists and historians
had said about the dating of the Trojan
War’s end because we intended to connect
it with Odysseus` return since Homer says
that Odysseus returned 10 years after the
Trojan War’s end (e.g. Od.5.106-108,
Od.2.174-176). Table 1 and Table 2 tabulate
main opinions respectively. We even took
into consideration the ancient Greek textual
and pictorial mythological sources which
mentioned two successive Trojan Wars conducted
by Achaeans against Troy (Kakridis
1986). The second, from the Trojan Wars,
was the legendary War mentioned by
Homer in which Ajax and his companions
fought. The first was realized, a generation
earlier from the second, in which Ajax’s father
participated. The heroes of the two
wars are presented in the temple of the
Athena’s Aphaea temple in Aegina Island.
We note that Hiller (see Table 2) proposed
two Trojan Wars coinciding with the Greek’s
mythological tradition.
118 ST. P. PAPAMARINOPOULOS et al
Although Homer is not a historian, like
Thucydides for instance, we took the liberty
to examine specific Homeric passages in
order to extract possible testable information
in connection with Odysseus’ return in
Ithaca.

TABLE 1.Trojan War’s dating in accordance to the ancient Greek authors

Author’s name Years B.C
Douris of Samos (Stromateis,1,21,138,1,1-139,5,5) 1454 or 1514*
Cleitarchus of Alexandria (Stromateis,1,21,138,1,1-139,5,5) 1274 or 1334*
Timaeus of Tauromenium (Stromateis,1,21,138,1,1-139,5,5) 1274 or 1334*
Eratosthenes of Alexandria (Stromateis,1,21,138,1,1-139,5,5) 1184 or 1228 or 1288*
Ephorus of Cymaeus (Stromateis,1,21,138,1,1-139,5,5) 1189 or 1249*
Phanias of Eresus (Stromateis,1,21,138,1,1-139,5,5) 1169 or 1229*
Herodotus of Halicarnassus (Histories, 2, 145, 16-17) about 1250
Dicaearchus of Sicily (Scholia vetera in Apollonii Rhodii
Argonautica, 278,11-12, Fragment 58 a 4-5) 1212
Parian Chronicle (paragraph 24) 1208
Sosibius of Lacon (De die nat. , c. 21) 1171
*Clemens of Alexandria in his text, Stromateis, (1,21,138,1,1-139,5,5): The two different numbers do not signify
two different Trojan Wars but only one. They are composed by three ‘time’ components. The coming of Heracleids,
the commencing of the Olympiads and Alexander’s the Great coming to Troad. For the first there are two opinions.
For the second there are three different opinions and for the third there is one historic opinion. The Eratosthenes
dating of 1184 is composed entirely different from the others dating and presents a seeming contradicting opinion
of the other ones.
TABLE 2. Archaeologists’ and historians’ references on the Homeric Troy
Author’s name Layer* Years B.C.
Dorpfeld W. (Zengel 1990) Troy VI ca 1250 but after Kadesh’s battle.
Blegen C. (Zengel 1990) Troy VIIa 1270-1240
Mylonas G. (1964) Troy VIIa ca 1200
Desborough V. R. d’A (1966) Troy VIIa 1250-1230
Nylander C. (1963) Troy VI Not historic Trojan War.
Finley M. et al. (1964) – Not historic Trojan War.
Wood M. (1998) Troy VI 1260-1250
Hiller S. (1991) Troy VIh In the middle of the 13th century
Troy VIIa End of the 13th /start of 12th century
Hood S. (1998) Troy VII b2 10th century
Mountzoy P. (1999a) – ca 1300 for VIh
Mountzoy P. (1999b) – ca 1210 for VIIa
Korfmann M. (2004) Troy VI/VIIa 1200- 1180**
* The layers in Latin numbers illustrate the archaeologists’ stratigraphic differences in dating Homeric Troy.
** He proposes, the ratio VI/VIIa as being the Troy`s catastrophe layer VI. He does that by equating VIIa=VIi
(Korfmann 2004b).
APPROACH AND METHODOLOGY
2.1 Searching for the Homeric solar eclipse
Homer describes a palace scene, during
noon in which δείπνον, dinner is offered. In
that the suitors, disguised Odysseus, his son
Telemachus, and Theoclymenus are all to-
A gether. Then, Theoclymenus predicts the
suitors’ death and the sun’s eclipse saying,
for the latter, the following: the sun has perished
out of heaven and an evil mist hovers over
all, (Od.20.356-357). As the suitors heard
what Theoclymenus said, they called him
mad, because there was still some day light
which they could see it themselves
(Od.20.360-362). The suitors mocked the
seer because they were incapacitated by
drunkenness and confusion because they
did not realize the eclipses’ beginning.
Homer, further, describes a next palace
scene. The suitors have eaten already their
dinner, the hours passed, and they were in
late noon time before the supper δόρπον
was offered (Od.21, 269-427). We notice that
the suitors have not started this supper, because
Homer says very clearly, in the following
passage, that the supper is not
ready. It is under preparation (Od.21.428-
429): But now is time that supper to be
made ready for the Achaeans, while yet
there is light, after thatmust other entertainment
be made with song and with the lyre.
At that moment Odysseus takes the bow
and shots an arrow to a specific target.
Then, the killing of the suitors, starts exactly
as in the previous passage is indicated
(Od.20.390-394): For they had made their dinner
in the heart, for they had slain many
beasts. But no supper could be more graceless
than the one a goddess and strong man
were soon to set before them. It is defined
in Od.21.428-429 with the words εν φάει
which means day light. It is also defined that
supper is prepared. The latter is understood
from the word τετυκέσθαι which means to
be prepared. Then the suitors’ killing occurs
at late noon and before evening, exactly after
Odysseus’ first successful shot (Od.21.409).
Taking into account all the information
mentioned above we concentrate our attention
to the correct solar eclipse associated
with Odysseus’ return as it was observed in
the Ionian Islands during 1300-1130 yr B.C.
time span. Although the two Tables 1 and 2
define a period between 1514-1171yr B.C.
we choose to begin from 1300 yr B.C. because
in this latter period the Achaeans had
reached the maximum political, economic
and military organization and there were
capable to organize a 1200 ships naval
power (Iliad.2. 494-762 and Iliad.2.816-877)
ready to act away from Greece in Troy. We
also extend it by 41 years until 1130 yr B.C.
in order to include the Achaeans’ Palaces
ruling system destruction. From Xavier Jubier’s
website “Five Millennium (-1999 to
+3000) Canon of Solar Eclipses Database”
(http://xjubier.free.fr/en/site_pages/solar_ecl
ipses/5MCSE/xSE_2_Five_Millennium_Can
on.html) based on Espenak & Meeus (2006),
we found 64 solar eclipses (Total or Annular
or Hybrid or Partial) which could be visible
from the Ionian Islands region during 1300-
1130 yr B.C. The NASA’s list is based on
models VSOP87D for the calculation of the
position of Sun and ELP-2000/82 for the calculation
of the position of Moon (Espenak
& Meeus 2006 & 2009c)
However, in the Odyssey there are remarkable
seasonal observations about
Ithaca:
a) Climate: (Od.5, 467-469)-Frost and
fresh dew in the night and breeze blowing
cold in the morning. (Od.14.518-522)-Bed
near the fire, and covering Odysseus’ body
with skins of sheep and goats and a great
thick cloak due to the terrible cold storm.
(Od.14.529-533)-Eumaeus, put about him a
cloak, very thick …and picked up the fleece
of a large, well-fatted goat. (Od.14.457-458)-
..rained the whole night through. …and
rainy strong West Wind blew. (Od.17.23-
25)-…I have warmed myself at the fire…
.the morning frost. (Od.17.190-191)-…colder
evening…
b) Trees and Plants: (Od.13.196)-luxuriant
trees. (Od.14.353)-…thicket of leafy wood…
(Od.24.221)-near to the fruitful vineyard…(
Od.24.234)-..tall pear tree. (Od.24.246-247)-
…fig tree, vine, olive, pear… (Od.24.340-
344)-…pear-trees thirteen, ten apple and
forty fig trees and fifty rows of vines and
they yield grapes of every kind…
120 ST. P. PAPAMARINOPOULOS et al
c) Animals: (Od.14.410-414)-…..and the
swine and the swineherds drew near…to
sleep in their accustomed sties…(Od.17.170-
171)-…the flocks came …from the fields…(
Od.15.397)-…and follow our masters swine.
d) Long lasting nights: (Od.15.391-394)-
they are αθέσφατοι. The latter greek word
means long lasting.
e) Peoples’ habits: (Od.17.96-97)-…leaning
against a chair and spinning fine
threads of yarn. (Od.18.315-316)-…and
twist the yarn… (Od.24.226-227)…digging
about a plant…
All the above mentioned information
leads to an autumn period except those in
connection with the luxuriant trees and the
flocks which are outside from the sties.
They latter fit both with spring and autumn
too. It is noticeable in the following passages,
(Od.22.301)-…along in the season of
spring, when the long days come and in
Od.18.366-367-…in working in the season of
spring, when the long days come…in relation
with Od.15.391-394 – these nights are
longer…(αθέσφατοι) that Homer defines the
long days of spring very clearly. Moreover
in Od.18.366-367, Homer explains why
Odysseus, would prefer to fight with Eurymachus
in the spring, because then he says
the days are long, whereas at that situation,
the fight with Eurymachus, the nights are
long (Od.15.391-394) and consequently the
days are short because it is autumn. Additionally,
in Od.11.187-194 is mentioned that
Odysseus’ father, Laertis, stays in his vineyard
in the summer and in the autumn. In
Od.24, Odysseus meets Laertis in that vineyard
only in the autumn in accordance with
Homer’s astronomical references, (see
below).
From the 64 solar eclipses (Total or Annular
or Hybrid or Partial) observed in
Greece, in the Ionian Islands, within this period
of 230 years, only 14 were visible
within September, October and November.
Homer in Od.14.161-162 and Od.19.306-
307 specifically says that Odysseus will come
in this very month here and further explains between
the waning of this moon and the waxing
of the next. Homer uses the word Λυκάβας.
It is interpreted as the time period between
old and new moon (Russo et al. 2002) and
is derived from the proto-hellenic words
Lyka+vanta (the light is gone). Homer also
declares in Od.14.457-now the night came on,
full and without a moon. The above mentioned
information (new moon) is a necessary
condition during the course of a solar
eclipse.
However, Homer sets two more additional
astronomical conditions connecting
Odysseus’ return to Ithaca. The first is
planet Venus, to be visible in the east, five
days, before the eclipse, (Od.13.93-95). The
second is, that the Pleiades (open cluster belonging
to the Taurus’ constellation), Boötes,
Ursa Major and Orion were visible, all nights
during his trip (Od.5.270-277). The latter requires
the simultaneous Pleiades’ and
Boötes’ presence in the night sky which occurs
only in two periods during autumn and
spring. However, the spring’s case is invalidated
in accordance with our arguments
clearly mentioned above.
It is known that Venus is visible either in
the east or in the west. In order to demonstrate
if Venus is really in the east five days
before the solar eclipse’s day we used the
Starry Night 6 Pro Plus. The latter offers the
position of the eight major planets within 5
arcseconds accuracy for a 3000 time span to
the present. Similarly the moon`s position
is accurate within 10 arcseconds for several
thousand years in either direction. We used
Ithaca’s coordinates (38° 22′ 0″ N, 20° 43′ 0″
E) as representative for all Ionian Islands.
From this mentioned study, 5 from the 14
solar eclipses (Total or Annular or Hybrid
or Partial) remain (Table 3) available for further
analysis, because they satisfy the first
Homeric condition. However, three of them
(1298, 1252 and 1234 in years B.C.) are not
practically visible. From the remaining two,
the first which has occurred in 1143 yr B.C.
is rejected since the Achaean’s Palaces economic
and organization system has been already collapsed. The last remaining one,
however, seems to satisfy both Homeric
conditions and the Table’s 1 and 2 presented
data. This is the annular solar eclipse of the
30th of October of 1207 yr B.C. (JD 1280869).
It was visible in the Ionian Islands with 75%
significant obscuration of the solar disc.
In order to calculate the Sun’s illuminance
during the solar eclipse we used the
equation (Eq. 1) proposed by Möllmann &
Vollmer (2006):
L/Lmax=1-p (1)
L= the Sun’s illuminance during the solar
eclipse
Lmax=the maximum of Sun’s illuminance
p= the obscuration of the solar disk
By setting p=0.75 in the equation 1 the
Sun’s illuminance becomes 25% of its total
value. The latter means significant reduction
of illuminance which is absolutely compatible
with Homer’s phrase (20.357) κακή
αχλύς means evil mist.
The phenomenon started in local time
(LT) 14.30 (12.30 UT) and ended in 17.25 LT
(15.25 UT) in the Ionian Islands. The maximum,
¾ obscuration of the Sun, was observed
in 16.00 LT (14.00 UT) in late noon
and before supper`s preparation. In addition,
the Delta-T (ΔΤ) value of this eclipse is
ΔT = 29136 sec (8.09 hours), with uncertainty
of ±1077 sec (17.95 min) on the determined
time and uncertainty of ±4.5° on the
longitude of the determined path. It is calculated
by taking into account the variation
of the Earth’s rotation (Espenak & Meeus
2006 & 2009c), based on the work by Morrison
& Stephenson (2004). We note that
Stephenson (1997) and his colleagues
(Stephenson & Houlden 1986) were pioneers
in that kind of calculations.
The eclipse’s maximum time coincides
with the suitor’s killing and it is ended just
before the sunset because immediately after
the killing, the servants came with torches
and shed light (Od.22.497 and Od.23.290-
293). In accordance to Starry Night calculations,
Homer’s description in the above
mentioned passages fit with the sunset at
17.58 LT (15.58 UT) on the 30th of October
1207 yr B.C. (JD 1280869).
2.2 Analysis of the Homeric Astronomical
References
Figures 1A and 1B illustrate the sky
above the horizon in the Ionian Islands at
16.00 LT (14.00 UT) on the 30th of October
(JD 1280869) and at 06.05 LT (04.05 UT) on
25th of October of 1207 yr B.C. (JD 1280864)
respectively using Starry night 6 Pro Plus.
In Figure 1A, the solar eclipse is observed at
20ο altitude within the south-west horizon
122 ST. P. PAPAMARINOPOULOS et al
Date Start Middle Maximum End Venus rise** Sunrise**
(Years B.C.*) (LT) (LT) Obscuration (LT) (LT) (LT)
1298 Sep 17 13:38 14:01 0.82 % 14:23 4:30 6:04
1252 Sep 18 08:33 09:04 1.92 % 9:37 2:20 6:06
1234 Sep 30 18:06 under horizon – – 5:26 6:18
1207 Oct 30 14:31 (33ο) 16:03 (20ο) 74.70 % 17:23 (6ο) 5:13 6:50
1143 Nov 11 06:51 (-4ο) 07:58 (8ο) 51.50 % 9:11 6:06 7:04
*‘Τhe Julian calendar does not include the year 0, so the year 1 BCE is followed by the year 1 CE. …Years prior
to the year 0 are represented by a negative sign. Historians should note that there is a difference of one year between
astronomical dates and BCE dates. Thus, the astronomical year 0 corresponds to 1 BCE.’
( http://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/SEhelp/calendar.html)
**Rise time five days before the solar eclipse.
LT=Local Time, which is equal to Universal Time (UT)+2 hours
The degrees in parentheses are the altitude of the sun above (+) or below (-) the horizon.
TABLE 3. The five solar eclipses` characteristics.
in Scorpius constellation, near to Antares
(Anti-Ares) which exhibits a red like blood
color similar with that of red Ares (Mars). It
is one of the brightness stars of the sky. All
the known planets in prehistoric Aegean
Sea, except Saturn, are projected within 75ο
angular distance, near to the solar eclipse.
We note that the value of ΔT, which this
program uses, is 29300 sec (8.14 hours).
There is a slight difference of 164 sec (2.73
A NEW ASTRONOMICAL DATING OF ODYSSEUS’ RETURN TO ITHACA 123
Figure 2. (A) the sky above the horizon at Gibraltar’s Straits (36° 8′ 0″ N, 5° 21′ 0″ E) (20.00 LT or 18.00
UT) on 1st of October (JD 1280840) and (B) at Palermo (38° 7′ 0″ N, 13° 22′ 0″ E) (3.00 LT or 1.00 UT)
on 19th of October of 1207 yr B.C. (JD 1280858) are shown respectively. The constellations, Ursa
Major, Taurus (open cluster of Pleiades), Boötes and Orion guided Odysseus during his voyage
from west to east. They are observed all night in the latitudinal width of the Mediterranean Sea internally
and externally of it. Pleiades move east-west and Boötes north-west to north-east. Orion
raises later than the others constellations.
Figure 1. (A) The sky above the horizon in the Ionian Islands (38° 22′ 0″ N, 20° 43′ 0″ E) at the maximum
phase (75%) of the solar eclipse (16.00 LT or 14.00 UT) on 30th of October of 1207 yr B.C. (JD
1280869) and (B) five days before this solar eclipse on 25th of October (JD 1280864) (6.05 LT or 4.05
UT) are shown. Planet Venus is observed eastward.
min) between this value and the one calculated
by Espenak & Meeus (2006 & 2009c).
This slight difference does not have any significant
effect in our results and the representation
of the sky in our figures.
According to the Homeric text (Od.13.93-
95) Odysseus arrived in Ithaca early in the
morning five days before the suitors’ killing
(Figure 1B). At that moment planet Venus
observed in the eastern horizon within the
Libra constellation (as Starry Night 6 Pro
Plus shows). Both Venus and Sun rose at
05.13 and 06.50 LT (4.50 UT) respectively.
Venus with exceptional clarity (magnitude
= -3.94) was for 1.5 hours before sunrise at
an altitude of 18ο above the horizon. Saturn,
which was known in the Aegean prehistoric
period, is projected near to the Cancer constellation.
The great planets Jupiter and Saturn
projected in the Capricorn and the
Cancer constellations, in other words, in the
constellations of the winter and summer
solstices respectively.
Figure 2 is representative of the autumn’s
night sky everywherewithin Mediterranean’s
latitudes. We offer, to the reader, two examples.
Odysseus is already, en route, travelling
west to east having to his left always Ursa
Major. The mariner observes the latter and
Pleiades and Boötes all night (between 19.30
and 05.30 LT or between 15.30 and 3.30 UT).
Homer in Od.5.272-274 says: as he watched
the Pleiades, and late-setting Boötes, and the
bear, which men also call the Wain, which ever
circles where it is and watches Orion” The
Greek word δοκεύει is semantically
stronger, than the English one watches. The
Greek word contains the elements of anxiety
and persistence of the animal which is
waiting its hunter, Orion, to come. And indeed
this happens. Orion appears at 22.30 LT
(20.30 UT) two hours later after the previously
mentioned constellations (see Fig. 2).
Pleiades are moving from east to west all
night while Boötes is in the north-west sky
in its course to set. Homer uses the phrase
οψέ δύοντα Βοώτην. It means literally that
Boötes is tempting to set slowly but in reality
it doesn’t completely. In Fig. 3, different
Boötes’ positions, during all night, are presented.
Boötes’ two stars, β Bοötis (Nekkar) and
γ Bοötis (Seginus) do not set at all! As
Boötes approaches slowly its set, these two
stars, remain above the horizon steadily.
Then sequentially Boötes starts to rise again
remaining all visible above the horizon in
the north-east sky all night up to the sunrise.
Boötes dives in a setting mode initially
in the north-west direction and then continues
emerging up moving in a north-east direction.
DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS
In connection with Odysseus’ return to
Ithaca, there are three scientific attempts for
its astronomical dating, which are the following:
Schoch (1926), Papamarinopoulos
(2008) and Baikouzis & Magnasco (2008).
These authors propose the total solar eclipse
of the 16thApril 1178 yr B.C. (JD 1291264) as
the Homeric one without taking into account
of the Epic’s significant details in connection
with the climate, the environment,
the plants, the animals and the peoples’
habits, which were presented in our text
above and strongly prove the autumn as the
season of the Odysseus’s return to Ithaca.
Also, Baikouzis & Magnasco (2008) suggest
the 1st of April of 1178 yr B.C. (JD 1291249)
as the vernal equinox then; but it is well
known that after the vernal equinox the
night gets shorter. The Homeric passage
mentions the nights are, αθέσφατοι, in
other words long lasting. Their conclusion
is incompatible both with the Homeric text
and with the astronomical references.
Furthermore, we have calculated the
night’s length of Ithaca for both the two suggested
dates:
On the 14th of April 1178 yr B.C. (JD
1291262) the night’s duration was about 11
hours (sunset 19.00 LT or 17.00 UT and sunrise
06.14 LT or 4.14 UT). On the 30th of October
of 1207 B.C. (JD 1280869) the night’s
124 ST. P. PAPAMARINOPOULOS et al
duration was about 13 hours (sunset 17.58
LT or 15.58 UT and sunrise 06.57 LT or 4.57
UT). Our suggested date is absolutely compatible
both with the Homeric text and the
astronomical knowledge for autumnal equinox
which was on 4th October of 1207 yr
B.C. (JD 1280843).
Also, Baikouzis & Magnasco (2008) write
that ‘close to noon ….the total eclipse of the sun
occurred at 12.02 p.m local time’. This is fully incompatible
with the timing of the suitors’
killing. Theoclymenus made his statement
about the suitors’ killing and the solar eclipse,
during dinner (δείπνου is genitive in Greek)
at noon, and then the suitors’ killing started,
at late noon during supper’s (δόρπου is genitive
in Greek) preparations, in accordance
with the Homeric text. The suggested, by us,
solar eclipse of 30th of October of 1207 B.C.
observed at late noon, 16.00 LT (14.00 UT).
A NEW ASTRONOMICAL DATING OF ODYSSEUS’ RETURN TO ITHACA 125
Figure 3. The sky above the horizon at Palermo (38° 7′ 0″ N, 13° 22′ 0″ E) on the 10th of October of
1207 yr B.C. (JD 1280849) (A) at 19.00 LT (17.00 UT), (B) at 21.00 LT (19.00 UT), (C) at 23.00 LT (21.00
UT) and on the 11th of October of 1207 yr B.C. (JD 1280850) (D) at 1.00 LT (10th October 23.00 UT),
(E) at 3.00 LT (1.00 UT), (F) at 5.00 LT (3.00 UT), is shown respectively. ‘Late-setting Boötes’ is going
toward its setting, but the two stars, β Bοötis (Nekkar) and γ Bοötis (Seginus), do not set at all!
Boötes starts to rise again remaining all visible above the horizon all night.
Both Homeric astronomical conditions
(Venus and constellations) exist in both proposed
scenaria. Homer describes four constellations
as orientation guides during
Odysseus’ return trip. However, in Baikouzis
& Magnasco (2008) denote exactly the
following: on 4th of April of 1178 yr B.C. (JD
1291252) was the heliacal setting of the
Pleiades, the last night they were visible before
hiding for 40 days and hence Odysseus
could not have followed Calypso’s directives…
This means that, a day, before
Odysseus’ raft was sank in accordance to
their calculations, Pleiades were not observable
in the night sky. This is correct astronomically
but it contradicts with the
Homeric text.
Furthermore, they mentioned all three
constellations Ursa Major, Boötes and
Pleiades (Taurus), but they missed Orion.
But Homer specifically describes that Ursa
Major watches Orion. In other words Ursa
Major is waiting Orion’s coming. Indeed,
Orion in the autumn is observed eastwards
in the night sky about two hours later after
the Pleiades’ rise. However, in the early
spring, Pleiades are observed westwards
and both Orion and Pleiades are simultaneously
visible in the night sky only for a few
hours.
The co-existence of Boötes and Pleiades,
in the night sky, occurs during the spring
and autumn. Boötes, in the autumn, is in the
westward while in the spring is in the eastward
horizon respectively. Baikouzis &
Magnasco (2008) mentioned the Homeric
phrase οψέ δύοντα and interpret it as follows:
‘around March as the sun approaches
these (Pleiades) set early while Boötes sets
late; in September, it is Boötes that sets early
while Pleiades set late’. In our text, earlier,
we offered to the reader both the correct
philological interpretation and the correct
astronomical explanation of it as Fig.3
shows clearly. Boötes’ unique westward motion
is observed only in the autumn’s night
sky, because then Boötes attempts to set, but
it cannot set entirely moving always all night
from north-west to north-east. In the spring,
Boötes certainly does exactly the same motion
westwards, but in the day light and consequently
cannot be observed.
Except from these two Homeric astronomical
conditions, they suppose another
one; a retrograde motion of the planet Mercury.
However this motion occurs every 116
days (3 times per earth year). It is an ordinary
phenomenon without any extreme
condition which could be caused the informants’,
of the poet, attention.
Finally, they propose a kind of relation between
the vernal equinox and Odysseus’s
shipwreck. It is understandable that angry
Poseidon, the god of the sea, is related with
the shipwreck. However, if we wish to associate
an astronomical phenomenon with
this shipwreck, the partial (50%) lunar
eclipse of 15th of October 1207 yr B.C. (JD
1280854) observed westwards in Ionian Islands
at 5.30 LT (3.30 UT) (Espenak &
Meeus 2009a & 2009b) and everywhere
within the Mediterranean’s latitudinal
width, is the best idea. It is well known that
this phenomenon assumed as a bad omen
within the prehistoric and historic ancient
world, see Arrian (Anabasis Alexandri3, 7,
6, 1-4), as an example.
In accordance with our hypothesis, we
conclude that the annular solar eclipse of
30th of October of 1207 B.C. (JD 1280869) observed
in the Ionian Islands with a significant
obscuration 75% is the described
phenomenon by Homer (Od.20. 356-357) related
with the Odysseus’s return to Ithaca
because it fits with all seasonal, environmental
and other astronomical data of the
epic. Taking into account this dating, and
Homer’s passages (e.g. Od5.106-108), the
legendary Trojan War’s end can be dated as
well.
We offer our proposal to the International
Scientific Community. It might be useful for
further future Homeric and Eastern
Mediterranean archeological and archaeometric
studies.
126 ST. P. PAPAMARINOPOULOS et al
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
To Professor William Mullen for his suggestion,
to us, to study the seasonal details
in the Epic.
To Emeritus Professor George Korres for
his useful input.
To postgraduate student Athanasios
Kouloumvakos for his assistance during the
course of our work.
To the two anonymous reviewers for
their, in depth, constructive criticism.
DEDICATION: This paper is devoted to the former
Rector of the University of Patras Professor Kostas
Goudas.
A NEW ASTRONOMICAL DATING OF ODYSSEUS’ RETURN TO ITHACA 127
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ANEW ASTRONOMICAL DATING OF ODYSSEUS’ RETURN TO ITHACA

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