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In an 1888 engraving, Odysseus is shown slaying the suitors the his wife, Penelope, upon his go back to Ithaca. References to an old solar eclipse in Homer's Odyssey suggest to April 16, 1178 B.C., together the day of Odysseus' return. Gustav Schwab via FromOldBooks.org
In the epic "Odyssey," one of the cornerstones of west literature, the legendary Greek hero Odysseus return to his queen Penelope after ~ enduring 10 year of sailing the alcohol dark sea.
Now scientists have pinned down his return to April 16, 1178 B.C., close to noon neighborhood time, according to huge references in the epic city that seem to pinpoint the full eclipse that the sun on the day the Odysseus supposedly reverted on.
The "Odyssey" is a millennia-old epic said to be created by the blind poet Homer. In modern-day times, the "Odyssey" is frequently seen as fiction. Still, Homer"s earlier epic, the "Iliad," was centered on the war versus Troy, and also scientists very first uncovered physical evidence of troy in the 19th century. This has long increased questions regarding what other historic facts the epics might refer to.
In the "Odyssey," after the decade-long Trojan War, King Odysseus of the island Ithaca contends with monsters and witches after the draws the wrath of the sea god Poseidon. After he ultimately returns home, Odysseus slays much more than 100 unruly suitors all of whom wish to marry Penelope.
Blood redThe feasible solar eclipse comes up in the 20th book of the "Odyssey," together the suitors start their last lunch. At this point, the goddess of battle Athena "confounds your minds," making the suitors laugh uncontrollably and also see their food spattered v blood. The seer Theoclymenus climate foresees the fatality of the suitors, finishing by saying, "The sun has been obliterated indigenous the sky, and also an ominous darkness invades the world."
The Greek chronicler Plutarch argued the prophecy of Theoclymenus described a solar eclipse.
More recently, astronomers Carl Schoch and Paul Neugebauer computed in the 1920s that a full solar eclipse occurred over the Ionian archipelago — of which Ithaca is one — about noon top top April 16, 1178 B.C., and would have coincided about a decade before the most regularly cited estimate for the bag of trojan — around 1190 B.C.
Still, a great deal that skepticism remains over even if it is Theoclymenus refers to this or any type of eclipse. To burned light ~ above the issue, researchers Marcelo Magnasco and Constantino Baikouzis in ~ Rockefeller university in new York chose to analyze other passages in the "Odyssey" for huge references without assuming one eclipse.
The scientists very first created a rough chronology the events portrayed in the "Odyssey." First, 29 days prior to the an alleged eclipse and also the massacre that the suitors, 3 constellations are discussed as Odysseus sets out from the island that Ogygia, whereby he has actually spent 7 years together a captive that the beautiful nymph Calypso. Odysseus is called to watch the Pleiades and also late-setting Boötes and also keep the great Bear come his left. Next, 5 days before the an alleged eclipse, Odysseus come in Ithaca as the Star that Dawn — that is, Venus — rises front of the sun.
Finally, the night prior to the eclipse, over there is a brand-new moon.
Also, the messenger that the gods, Hermes, is sent west to Ogygia by the king that the gods Zeus to release Odysseus and then automatically returns ago east about 34 days prior to the eclipse. The researchers conjecture this pilgrimage refers to an apparent turning point the the movement of the planet Mercury. (Mercury to be the roman name because that Hermes.)
Backward planetMercury completes its orbit approximately the sun in just around 88 days, contrasted with the year it takes planet to execute so. This means that Mercury and also Earth space somewhat favor two cars moving along different lanes that a racetrack at various speeds. The impact of these motions is that Mercury occasionally appears to walk backward or retrograde in the skies from our suggest of view, Magnasco explained. This wake up for roughly three weeks in ~ a time, about three time a year.
The researchers then tried to find potential days that satisfied all these expensive references close to the autumn of Troy, which has actually over the century been estimated to have developed between approximately 1250 come 1115 B.C. From these 135 years, they uncovered just one date satisfied all the recommendations — April 16, 1178 B.C., the same date as the propose eclipse.
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"That"s just one day out of around 50,000 days," Magnasco told LiveScience. "If ours findings room correct, it would certainly be pretty spectacularly strange. How can Homer have known about this eclipse, about planetary positions that taken place some 100 years before him? If this is every true, that would readjust the schedule of what we think they knew about astronomy then." Homer, if he yes, really existed, is stated to have actually composed the "Odyssey" sometime close to the finish of the ninth century B.C.
Magnasco and Baikouzis in-depth their findings digital June 23 in the journal Proceedings the the national Academy of Sciences.