THE ODYSSEY: MEDITERRANEAN ITINERARY OR GEOGRAPHY OF THE SOUL?

Illustration from Peter Connelly, The Legend of Odysseus (Oxford 1988)


“Odyssey” is not only the proper name of an epic by Homer. It has become a common noun for something else, in all Western European languages at least. Look it up in any dictionary and you find two meanings:

(1) an extended adventurous voyage or trip;

(2) an intellectual or spiritual quest.

(American Heritage Dictionary)

During our cruise we visited a number of the sites traditionally identified with stages in Odysseus' journey. We also read or re-read the Odyssey. What follows is a look at some of the theories of Odysseus' physical itinerary and then a consideraton of the other than physical, geographical dimension of the epic.

But first, a rapid-fire survey of the legendary background behind the Odyssey narrative—the story of the war against Troy of which it is in part the aftermath.


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