The Odyssey

By Homer

Homer and History

Many attempts have been made throughout the ages to locate the travels of Odysseus with places in the real Mediterranean world. For example, the land of the Phaeacians (Scheria) has been identified with Corfu, and it was no other than Thucydides himself who first claimed that the Cyclopes came from Sicily. The evidence for either, or indeed any, of these locations being 'real', with the possible exception of Ithaca (modern Thaki, perhaps), ranges from remote to impossible. It is not even clear whether there is much to gain from attempting to pin down a work of imaginative fiction to the mundanity of geographical accuracy. It is also difficult, but by no means as fruitless, to attempt to see some vestiges of history, both of the 12th and 8th Centuries BC, in the Odyssey. The study guide on the Iliad gives many details on this topic, but it remains very difficult to sift out contemporary, or near contemporary details of Homer's own society from the heroic world that he professes to represent.