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Ancient Eclipse Found in "The Odyssey," Scientists Say
National Geographic News ^ | 6-23-2008 | Richard A. Lovett

Posted on 06/23/2008 5:36:32 PM PDT by blam

Ancient Eclipse Found in "The Odyssey," Scientists Say

Richard A. Lovett for National Geographic News
June 23, 2008

"The sun has perished out of heaven, and an evil mist has overspread the world."

With those words in The Odyssey, Homer laid down not a prophecy of doom but a description of a real-world total solar eclipse, scientific sleuths announced today.

It has been known for decades that there was only one such eclipse during the time period Homer wrote about in the ancient Greek poem—on April 16, 1178 B.C. The blackout even occurred at noon, as described in the epic poem.

But without additional evidence, the idea that Homer's passage describes an eclipse has been pooh-poohed by Homeric scholars.

Now scientists have looked into additional astronomical descriptions in The Odyssey and found them to be consistent with that date for the noontime darkness.

The references relate to moon phases and positions of constellations and planets—phenomena that rarely occur in the sequence described in Homer's work—physicist Marcelo Magnasco said by email. Magnasco co-authored the new study with fellow Rockefeller University scholar Constantino Baikouzis, an astronomer.

The scientists used astronomical software to simulate the Greek skies, night by night, over a 135-year period surrounding the eclipse.

Even without using the eclipse itself in their calculations, the researchers found only one date for the noontime darkness: April 16, 1178 B.C.

Controversy Expected

Study co-author Magnasco said his findings, to be published tomorrow in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, will be controversial.

The study does more than reinterpret Homer's writing, though even the study authors admit Homer may not have been referring to an eclipse.

The new findings also assume a level of astronomical sophistication among Odyssey-era Greeks that many historians would find unrealistic, Magnasco said. Little or no evidence exists of Greeks during this time tracking the movements of stars and planets in detail.

"The use of astronomical clues to set the dates of works of art is a very intriguing field that has seen a recent increase in popularity," astronomer Geza Gyuk of Chicago's Adler Planetarium said by email.

"Fairly Sound"

Jerry Oltion, a telescope maker, amateur astronomer, and science fiction writer from Eugene, Oregon, finds the astronomical reasoning "fairly sound."

From an artistic standpoint, he doubts Homer ever saw an eclipse himself—though that has no bearing on the new study, as Homer lived centuries after the events depicted in The Odyssey.

"Any writer who has seen an eclipse—or even heard one described—would never put his characters indoors during the climactic moment," he said.

The moment takes place at a luncheon as the oracle-like Theoclymenus speaks the passage in question to suitors courting the wife of the main character, Odysseus, who is thought dead.

Also, Oltion notes that the story leaves out many details about eclipses, such as the sun's corona.

"I don't believe Homer could have ignored all those effects," Oltion said.

However the controversy resolves, the Adler Planetarium's Gyuk lauds the study for making us think about Homer's story in new ways.

"This article celebrates Homer and pays homage to the Odyssey in the most sincere way," he said.


TOPICS: News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: ancient; archaeoastronomy; catastrophism; eclipse; godsgravesglyphs; odysseus; odyssey; science; trojanwar

1 posted on 06/23/2008 5:36:32 PM PDT by blam
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To: SunkenCiv

GGG Ping?


2 posted on 06/23/2008 5:36:54 PM PDT by blam
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To: blam

Very interesting. How does this date compare to those usually posited for Homer?


3 posted on 06/23/2008 5:42:00 PM PDT by BenLurkin
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To: blam

Interesting. Thanks for posting. I really enjoyed reading Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey in college. Fascinating.

Music to read this thread by...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZZSi02uccrc


4 posted on 06/23/2008 5:44:01 PM PDT by PGalt
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To: blam
... he doubts Homer ever saw an eclipse himself...

Homer was blind... Unless he got that way by staring at the sun during an eclipse, its probably a fairly safe bet that he never saw one...

5 posted on 06/23/2008 5:51:01 PM PDT by El Cid (Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house...)
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To: PGalt

I am reading The Odyssey and Iliad right now with two students, both of whom HATE the usual fiction reading they do in Middle School. They are loving that book. We got a R. Sutcliff edition with beautiful illustrations — the Cyclops’ eye with a stake in it, the suitor Laertes shot in the neck, standing there with an arrow through his neck. Odysseus’s visit to the Land of the Dead is illustrated so beautifully.

I don’t remember an eclipse in it. But then I haven’t agreed much with the National Geographic since they posted that photo of two lesbians kissing in Paris.


6 posted on 06/23/2008 6:02:03 PM PDT by bboop (Stealth Tutor)
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To: bboop

Great job teacher! I had a great professor (one of many) in college in the early 70’s who taught Greek Mythology and really took you back in time with Homer’s classic.


7 posted on 06/23/2008 6:09:13 PM PDT by PGalt
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To: blam

read later


8 posted on 06/23/2008 6:17:30 PM PDT by LiteKeeper (Beware the secularization of America; the Islamization of Eurabia)
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To: El Cid
Homer was blind... Unless he got that way by staring at the sun during an eclipse, its probably a fairly safe bet that he never saw one...

That's just one invented biographical detail added over the years. Real details of his life, or even whether he existed at all, are unknown.

9 posted on 06/23/2008 6:19:23 PM PDT by Kleon
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To: BenLurkin
I think most conservative scholars place the Trojan war around 1200 BC so this time frame (1178) describing the eclipse seems to fit that.

Homer himself wrote 400 or so years later after the events of the Trojan War. 800-750 or so BC.

10 posted on 06/23/2008 6:24:38 PM PDT by what's up
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To: bboop
Was it this one? Expensive!The Wanderings of Odysseus: The Story of the Odyssey
11 posted on 06/23/2008 6:32:26 PM PDT by JPJones (Cry havoc and let loose the Freepers!)
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To: blam
...even the study authors admit Homer may not have been referring to an eclipse.

It's quite obvious from the narrative that Theoclymenus is not describing an eclipse. He is viewing the suitors in the banquet hall and describes the vision he is having of their impending doom:

Shrouded in night are your heads and your faces and your knees beneath you; kindled is the sound of wailing, bathed in tears are your cheeks, and sprinkled with blood are the walls and the fair panels. And full of ghosts is the porch, full also the court, ghosts hastening down to Erebus beneath the darkness, and the sun has perished out of heaven and an evil mist covers all.

... the suitors laugh at him and tell him to go outside, if it is so dark in the hall. The vision of the "evil mist" is fulfilled poetically when Odysseus shoots Eurymachus "upon the breast beside the nipple" and his death agonies are described in the usual Homeric detail, ending with "and over his eyes the mist (achlys) poured down."

12 posted on 06/23/2008 7:22:49 PM PDT by dr_lew
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To: dr_lew
I meant to mention that there is a natural omen described as Odysseus sets about killing the suitors. This is the "clap of doom", which occurs just after he strings the bow:

...and Zeus thundered loud, showing forth his signs. Then glad at heart was the much-enduring, noble Odysseus that the son of crooked-counseling Cronos sent him an omen,...

Unfortunately, I doubt this will be much help in dating the event :-)

13 posted on 06/23/2008 7:33:31 PM PDT by dr_lew
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To: 75thOVI; aimhigh; Alice in Wonderland; AndrewC; aristotleman; Avoiding_Sulla; BenLurkin; Berosus; ..
The sun has perished out of heaven, and an evil mist has overspread the world.
Thanks blam!
 
Catastrophism
 
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14 posted on 06/23/2008 10:30:19 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/_________________________Profile updated Friday, May 30, 2008)
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In the shadow of the Moon
New Scientist | 30 January 1999 | editors
Posted on 08/31/2004 8:42:25 AM PDT by SunkenCiv
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-chat/1203912/posts

An epic battle on Homer’s gender
The Australian | July 03, 2006 | Dalya Alberge (The London Times)
Posted on 07/02/2006 7:46:38 PM PDT by SunkenCiv
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-chat/1659530/posts

Samuel Butler’s “Authoress of the Odyssey”:
http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/1727
http://ia301142.us.archive.org/1/items/authoressofodyss00butlrich/authoressofodyss00butlrich_djvu.txt

Drill hole begins Homeric quest
BBC News | Wednesday, 11 October 2006 | Jonathan Amos
Posted on 10/11/2006 9:53:43 AM PDT by SunkenCiv
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-chat/1717536/posts

Engineers To Help Find Homer’s Itacha
Yahoo News | 3-26-2007 | Derek Gatopoulos
Posted on 03/27/2007 3:15:17 PM PDT by blam
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1807729/posts

Victor Davis Hanson: The Ancient Greeks – Were they like us at all?
The New Criterion | May 2004 | Victor Davis Hanson
Posted on 05/04/2004 8:33:07 PM PDT by quidnunc
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1129727/posts


15 posted on 06/23/2008 10:44:23 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/_________________________Profile updated Friday, May 30, 2008)
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To: blam
found this oldie.

+freerepublic +"by blam"
Google

16 posted on 06/23/2008 10:45:17 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/_________________________Profile updated Friday, May 30, 2008)
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To: BenLurkin

The Trojan War as laid out in “The Iliad” either is a conflation of a large number of older stories, referring to a number of different eras, and doesn’t have a single author, orrrrrr, it is in sync with the 25th Dynasty of Egypt (there’s a clear reference, more than one, in “The Iliad” to one of the Ethiopian pharaohs), or 8th century BC through mid-7th c, and a similar range is usually given for Homer. :’)


17 posted on 06/23/2008 10:53:15 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/_________________________Profile updated Friday, May 30, 2008)
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[self-quote] David Rohl attempted to use a solar eclipse of 1012 BC to date one of the el-Amarna letters to support his chronology. Ugarit was burned by Shalmaneser III in 855 BC, so using the fire to push back the date of the tablet by a century and a half is ill supported at best. [end]


18 posted on 06/23/2008 10:56:49 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/_________________________Profile updated Friday, May 30, 2008)
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To: Lonesome in Massachussets

:’)


19 posted on 06/23/2008 10:59:29 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/_________________________Profile updated Friday, May 30, 2008)
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Historical Eclipses by F. Richard Stephenson, Scientific American, 1982. - 247, N4. - 154-163 (found on Fomenko website):
YEAR DAY LOCATION DESCRIPTION
B.C. 709 JULY 17 CHINA TOTAL: NO OTHER DETAILS
601 SEPT. 12 CHINA TOTAL: NO OTHER DETAILS
549 JUNE 12 CHINA TOTAL: NO OTHER DETAILS
198 AUG. 7 CHINA ANNULAR: NO OTHER DETAILS
181 MAR. 4 CHINA TOTAL: NO OTHER DETAILS
136 APR.15 MESOPOTAMIA TOTAL: MANY STARS AND FOUR PLANETS SEEN 
A.D. 2 NOV. 23 CHINA TOTAL: NO OTHER DETAILS
65 DEC.16 CHINA TOTAL: NO OTHER DETAILS
516 APR. 18 CHINA ANNULAR: NO OTHER DETAILS
522 JUNE 10 CHINA TOTAL: NO OTHER DETAILS
840 MAY 5 ITALY TOTAL: "SUN HIDDEN FROM WORLD"
873 JULY 28 PERSIA ANNULAR: "MOON WITHIN BODY OF SUN"
912 JUNE 17 SPAIN TOTAL: "DARKNESS JUST BEFORE SUNSET"
968 DEC.22 TURKEY (2) TOTAL: CORONA OBSERVED
975 AUG.10 JAPAN TOTAL: "INK-COLORED SUN"
1124 AUG.11 RUSSIA TOTAL: "SUN PERISHED COMPLETELY"
1133 AUG. 2 EUROPE (5) TOTAL: "SUN BLACK AS PITCH"
1176 APR.11 TURKEY TOTAL: "NIGHT FELL, STARS APPEARED"
1185 MAY 1 RUSSIA TOTAL: CHROMOSPHERE OBSERVED
1221 MAY 23 MONGOLIA TOTAL: "STARS VISIBLE"
1239 JUNE 3 EUROPE (8) TOTAL: "MANY STARS SEEN"
1241 OCT. 6 EUROPE (2) EGYPT TOTAL: "WONDERFUL BLACKNESS"
1267 MAY 25 TURKEY TOTAL: "MANY STARS APPEARED"
1275 JUNE 25 CHINA TOTAL: "STARS SEEN"
1292 JAN.21 CHINA ANNULAR: "SUN A GOLDEN RING"
1406 JUNE 16 GERMANY TOTAL: "GREAT DARKNESS"
1415 JUNE 7 EUROPE (2) TOTAL: "ENTIRE SUN ECLIPSED"
1485 MAR. 16 AUSTRIA TOTAL: NO OTHER DETAILS
TWENTY-EIGHT SOLAR ECLIPSES, either total or annular, are noted in records from eighth century B.C. through the 15th century A.D. All but one of the 10 most ancient eclipses listed in this table were observed by Chinese astronomers. The later predominance of Euro eclipse observers is due to the rise of monastic communities. Multiple sightings are numbered.
EARLIEST SOLAR ECLIPSE for which the date is certain is recorded on this Assyrian tablet, a summary of past historical events. A large partial eclipse, it took place on June 15, 763 b.c.

20 posted on 06/23/2008 11:28:54 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/_________________________Profile updated Friday, May 30, 2008)
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To: blam

bump for later read


21 posted on 06/23/2008 11:44:03 PM PDT by Captain Beyond (The Hammer of the gods! (Just a cool line from a Led Zep song))
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To: SunkenCiv

Comet?

...so down she darted
from the topmost summits of Olympus. She shot through the sky as some brilliant meteor which the son of scheming Saturn has sent as a sign to mariners or to some great army, and a fiery train of light follows in its wake. The Trojans and Achaeans were struck with awe...

http://classics.mit.edu/Homer/iliad.mb.txt


22 posted on 06/23/2008 11:51:59 PM PDT by Fred Nerks (FAIR DINKUM!)
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To: SunkenCiv

Both Rohl and Velikovsky put the Trojan War in the ninth century B.C., give or take a decade. Thus, Homer would have lived then, or in the early eighth century.


23 posted on 06/24/2008 2:50:28 AM PDT by Berosus (Supports the troops, bring them home -- from the Balkans.)
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To: Salamander

This eclipse needs more cowbell ping.


24 posted on 06/24/2008 3:00:19 AM PDT by shibumi (".....panta en pasin....." - Origen)
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To: Berosus

:’)

http://www.varchive.org/dag/trowar.htm

> Phrygians as allies of Priam, in the hinterland of the Troad, in conflict with the Cimmerians, themselves pursued by the Scythians, would limit the period of the Trojan War to the years between -720 and -687.


25 posted on 06/24/2008 9:27:22 AM PDT by SunkenCiv (https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/_________________________Profile updated Friday, May 30, 2008)
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To: Fred Nerks

Rivers dried up, ran backwards, or somethin’, as well...


26 posted on 06/24/2008 9:27:59 AM PDT by SunkenCiv (https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/_________________________Profile updated Friday, May 30, 2008)
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To: SunkenCiv
Thanks.

Starry Night Pro 5.0 gives a long total eclipse in Athens on that date about 26 minutes after local noon. The date is also surprising close to accepted date of the Trojan War. The umbra would have just missed Troy, with about 99% of the sun shadowed at peak.

Finding ancient eclipses with modern software is no big deal. The correspondence is provocative, but the association of the eclipse with war may have been a later embellishment.

27 posted on 06/25/2008 6:24:30 AM PDT by Lonesome in Massachussets (Hillary to Obama: Arkancide happens.)
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Gods
Graves
Glyphs
Just updating the GGG info, not sending a general distribution.

To all -- please ping me to other topics which are appropriate for the GGG list.
GGG managers are SunkenCiv, StayAt HomeMother, and Ernest_at_the_Beach
 

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28 posted on 03/31/2010 8:03:46 PM PDT by SunkenCiv ("Fools learn from experience. I prefer to learn from the experience of others." -- Otto von Bismarck)
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To: SunkenCiv

Samuel Butler’s “Authoress of the Odyssey” (updated link):
http://archive.org/stream/authoressofodyss00butlrich/authoressofodyss00butlrich_djvu.txt


29 posted on 03/01/2013 5:58:51 PM PST by SunkenCiv (Romney would have been worse, if you're a dumb ass.)
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To: SunkenCiv

They argue over who homer was still.

But if they know when it was really written they could probably track the eclipses to around that time, I guess


30 posted on 03/01/2013 6:07:01 PM PST by GeronL (http://asspos.blogspot.com)
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31 posted on 03/01/2013 6:22:44 PM PST by SunkenCiv (Romney would have been worse, if you're a dumb ass.)
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To: GeronL

Nah. What is done instead is, eclipses are “found” in the text, then the eclipse that would be nearest to the generally accepted date for (in this case) the Trojan War is used as “proof” of the dating, when obviously it is no such thing.


32 posted on 03/01/2013 10:07:21 PM PST by SunkenCiv (Romney would have been worse, if you're a dumb ass.)
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