A Croatian lawyer offers a meticulously researched and exhaustively detailed identification of the present-day whereabouts of Homer’s ancient Ithaca.
The location of Odysseus’s homeland, as described in the Odyssey, has long been a matter of debate for philologists, archaeologists and Homeric scholars. One easy conclusion to the argument is that the island currently known as Ithaca, located in the Ionian Sea just off the northeast coast of Cephallonia, was the mythological hero’s home. However, this island, known by locals as Thiaki, does not share topographical details with the Ithaca described in the Odyssey; while the island in the myth is low-lying and far to the west, Thiaki is mountainous and sits to the east of a larger land mass. Burrowing deep into the text of the Odyssey and creating a somewhat tedious inventory of Ithacan characteristics, Brckovic provides a convincing case that Erisos, the northern peninsula of the island of Cephallonia, is indeed the Ithaca to which Odysseus returned at the conclusion of the epic poem. The author assumes that Homer, despite mythologizing his Greek hero and his adventures, meant to reference an authentic landscape as one of the central settings of his narrative. Building off that assumption, Brckovic cites more than 100 lines of the poem that precisely describe the general environs of Erisos. Not satisfied with a concise argument, the author spends the second half of the book identifying exact locations in and around Erisos that inspired a dozen or so important locales mentioned in the Odyssey, including the Harbour of Phorcys, Raven’s Rock, the Hamlet of Laertes and the Hill of Nion. A generous use of color photographs and maps both current and historical support the thesis presented in this slim but thorough volume.
A convincing, compelling argument compromised by a density of details.