Aegeus Society For Aegean Prehistory


25 December 2010

L’Odissea e le tradizioni peloponnesiache

Cecilia Nobili Pasiphae. Rivista di filologia e antichità egee 3 (2009) [2010]: 171-185.


In the last few years some interesting studies have been devoted at analyzing the connections between the Odyssey and local traditions, with particular interest on the traditions rooted in the northern areas of Epirus and Acarnania. But the archaeological evidence has now demonstrated that Ithaca and the Ionian Islands, from the Mycenean epoch to the dark age, had strong relationships with the western Peloponnesian regions, such as Elis and Messenia. Archaeologists use to call this phenomenon “western koiné”, but this term, in my opinion, can be applied also to the mythical and poetical tradition developed in the western areas of Peloponnese in the same period. The Odyssey can be safely inserted in this context, since it shows many and strict connections with western Peloponnese. Most of the main Odyssean character have genealogical relationship with Peloponnesian mythical figures, such as Penelope, whose father Ikarios was commonly regarded as Tyndareus’ brother, and Odysseus himself, whose grandfather Autolykos was well inserted in the Peloponnesian mythical traditions. In the Odyssey Pylos, Elis and Sparta appear as the most faithful allies of the Ithacan kings, because of the commercial and political relationships that are clearly presented in many passages and underlined by the use of some typical and recurrent formulas. Moreover, some Odyssean scenes, such as the encounter between Menelaus and Proteus or the theft of Helios’ cattle, present clear parallels with Peloponnesian traditions, particularly with Heracles’ saga: instead of thinking about any direct influence, it is more correct to state that both sagas developed in the same poetical tradition of the “western koiné”.


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