|THE BALTIC ORIGINS OF HOMER'S EPIC TALES:|
THE ILIAD, THE ODYSSEY, AND THE MIGRATION OF MYTH
by Felice Vinci
ODYSSEY - Yes; ILIAD - No
REVIEW AND COMMENTARY
SYNOPSIS:The back cover of the English edition of this book, originally published in Italian in 1995, mentions how Vinci "explains how the cool, foggy, weather described by Ulysses matches that of northern climes rather than the sunny, warm, Mediterranean and Aegean." This indeed is what the Odyssey suggests. This and other investigations in Part One of his book does indeed ring very true. But when he looks for Baltic content in the Iliad, he fails in my view. His evidence is weak and can be read in other ways not involving the Baltic, and some evidence is completely contradictory, and yet fails to be mentioned. For example, the the book's cover notes continue: " ..and how battles lasting through the whole night would easily have been possible in the long days of the Baltic summer. " Vinci does not make any reference to the night when the Trojans are camped on the plain with fires going, and the Iliad explains how the mountains, glades and headlands are visible under the bright moonlight. This shows that nightime fighting could occur because of clear nights with full moon, and therefore there is no need to see nighttime fighting as evidence of there being a short Baltic night. There is much more that Vinci does not discuss that in fact undermines his theory when applied to the Iliad. Another example is his reference to the Odysseyshowing that the boats were two-prowed (the stem and the stern the same) like northern boats (ancestral to Viking boats). But in my search of the Iliad I found a passage that described the sterns of the Iliadboats to have a raised deck, which means they were true Greek warships. My view therefore is that Vinci did indeed find Baltic Origins in the original content of the Odyssey, but not in the Iliad. He should have titled the book "The Baltic Origins of theOdyssey". It is generally accepted by scholars that the Odyssey and Iliad were written by different poets and the Odyssey some time later - probably as a sequel after the Iliadwas popular and the whole Trojan War tale known. But in general Vinci and the promotions of the book lead the reader astray by speaking as if "Homer" is one person. "Homer's Epics" says the title. This makes the reader think both epics were written by the same person, hence giving the impression what applies to one applies to the other. This of course helps Vinci find readers accepting a transder of his findings (like the two-prow boat) from the Odyssey to the Iliad. It isn't until page 204 is that Vinci acknowledges scholars have for a long time believed the two "Homer" tales were written by different authors. I can see why it is advantageous both for his theory and book sales to bury this information;because if the epics are not "Homer's" epics but epics by two different authors, then each epic can have very different origins, and the Odyssey can be merely adapting references to details of the Trojan War from the Iliadalready known and now famous, while introducing and adapting new northern Norwegian and Baltic information to masquerade as Greek places. This very logical and straightforward interpretation fits what scholars know about how minstrels created works from many sources. Indeed if I myself were to create a sequel to the Iliad today, I would begin by getting to know the details found in the Iliad, and nestle them into my new tale, and then adapt all my new content to fit the Iliadand the Greek world. But Vinci cannot entertain this MOST LIKELY scenario, because his theorizing is more elaborate and he has a larger agenda. He is promoting a strange concept of the entire Greek world - place names and culture - having a Baltic origin, which moved south as a result of cooling after a "climatic optimum" around 2500BC. Thus to serve this larger theorizing he had to find that the Trojan War occurred in the northern Baltic and he had to find that the writers of both the Iliad and Odysseyeven if separately, wrote about the same Baltic war. But let's overlook the manipulations that hide the most logical interpretations. Let's ASSUME Vinci was right. If so then the Iliad itself should reveal it had references to the Baltic. But when I carefully read the Iliad, I did not find any Baltic. I found nothing to go against the traditional view that the Iliad was set in the Aegean world. Yes, there are discrepancies, but not the kinds of evidence that prove a northern setting. The significant discrepancies relate to Lycia and Lycians. Wishing to pursue the real truth, I began a research into Lycia, and discovered the more likely location of the Trojan War - southwest Turkey, the ancient Xanthos valley that was Lycia. This setting also solves many of the small discrepancied too related to the Dardnelles location like presence of wood, and the possibility of mist and nighttime coolness as a result of being surrounded by the Taurus mountains. ( You can read the paper I created documenting my findings, at the link at the bottom of this page.) The following text elaborates on these brief comments.