A Solar Eclipse & Homer's The Odyssey

A Solar Eclipse and Homer’s Odyssey

“Nations, like stars, are entitled to eclipse. All is well, provided the light returns and the eclipse does not become endless night. Dawn and resurrection are synonymous. The reappearance of the light is the same as the survival of the soul.”

~Victor Hugo

In light (or dark) of the solar eclipse happening today, I wanted to give you something literary to think about as you stare at the sky.

There is a sliver of possibility that Homer’s epic, The Odyssey, describes real astronomical events that coincide with historically accurate weather phenomena and a real conflict in modern-day Turkey. 

So in the poem, do you remember how Odysseus’s wife, Penelope, was being pursued by a bunch of men who weren’t her husband? Everyone thought Odysseus was dead and that Penelope was single and ready to mingle.

Theoclymenus, a seer or prophet, foretells the death of these men:

“Unhappy men, what is it that ails you? There is a shroud of darkness drawn over you from head to foot, your cheeks are wet with tears; the air is alive with wailing voices; the walls and roof drip with blood; the gate cloisters and the court beyond them are full of ghosts trooping down into the night of hell; the sun is blot out of heaven, and a blighting gloom is over all the land.

Naturally, they dismissed this prophecy, but the men did meet their fate, and according to some, these events coincide with the 1178 B.C. solar eclipse. There is far more speculation to this theory than confirmation for it, nevertheless, it’s a fun thought experiment.

There are a couple of articles that detail this “discovery” from The New York Times and Scientific American, so you can read it for yourself. Be sure to go back and revisit The Odyssey, too, especially if you are lucky enough to find yourself in the path of the eclipse this year. It might give you something else to say besides, “Wooooooooow.” 

What do you think? Real, partially real, or entirely fiction?

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Homer's They Odyssey

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