The Baltic Origins of Homer’s Epic Tales by Vinci

Felice Vinci. The Baltic Origins of Homer’s Epic Tales: The Iliad, the Odyssey, and the Migration of Myths. Transl. by Felice Vinci and Amalia De Francesco. Foreword by Joscelyn Godwin. Rochester, Vt.: Inner Traditions, 2006. Paperback, xiii + 370 pp.

It is a curious fact that the geographical descriptions furnished in Homer’s Iliad (the story of the siege of Troy) and Odyssey (the story of Odysseus’s journey home after Troy’s fall) do not easily match the assumed Mediterranean topography. Various prehistorians, historians, archeologists, and linguists have expressed their consternation about Homer’s geographical details. It was Plutarch (46-120 A.D.), who in his essay “The face that appears in the lunar orb,” unequivocally states that Goddess Calypso’s island of Ogygia mentioned in the Odyssey was situated “five days’ sail from Britain, toward the west.”

Vinci, a nuclear engineer by profession and a passionate classicist by vocation, took Plutarch’s statement as a serious clue to search for the geography of the Homeric epics in the North Atlantic rather than the Mediterranean. He has amassed a mountain of evidence in favor of the Baltic origins of both Greek epics. Similarities between the mythologies of the North and the Mediterranean have often been pointed out. Vinci argues that a deterioration in climate around 2000 B.C. caused some of the Scandinavian peoples to migrate south. As time went by, the epics were claimed by the Greeks for their own Mediterranean culture and environment.

What about Schliemann’s Troy? Although this intrepid explorer undoubtedly discovered the Mycenean civilization, his claim to have unearthed the city of Troy has never been universally accepted. Already Strabo (   ) denied that the “ancient Ilium ( Troy)” was to be found in Anatolia. A better candidate for the Homeric Troy than the Anatolian town of Hisarlik, excavated by Schliemann, is possibly the Finnish town of Toija, as suggested by Vinci.

Vinci’s audacious rewriting of Homeric culture and mythology is a creative proposition, which deserves to be further investigated. He has my full vote of confidence.

Copyright ©2006 by Georg Feuerstein. All rights reserved.
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