Monday, January 21, 2013

Homer's Iliad Explained

This book makes real sense of The Iliad


[See also our post of 16 March 2009 at:
"Was Homer’s “Odyssey” Based on the Hebrew Books of Job and Tobit?"]

From the flyleaf of Homer’s Secret Iliad, by Florence and Kenneth Wood, which was deservingly awarded Book of the Year when first released in 1999.

During the 1930s the young daughter of a Kansas farmer spent night after night watching the stars and planets wheel across the vast prairie sky. Later, as a teacher in England , she combined her devotion to astronomy with a passion for Homer. This led her to a discovery which would lie buried until her daughter, Florence Wood, inherited her papers in 1991.
Her years of study, it became clear, had revealed Homer’s great epic to be also the world’s oldest book of astronomy.

[AMAIC comment: The dating of the Iliad, and whether it really belonged to the presumed time of Homer, is actually a challenging issue of its own; one with which the AMAIC hopes to come to grips elsewhere].
The changing configuration of the stars, so important for navigation and the measurement of time, had a fascination for the ancient world that it has lost today. In the Iliad, battles between Greeks and Trojans mirror the movements of stars and constellations as they appear to fight for ascendancy in the sky. The timescale of Homeric astronomy is breathtaking; elements can be dated to the ninth millennium BC [sic], long before the recorded astronomy of Mesopotamia and Egypt . Geography is also represented, since the shapes of constellations were used as ‘skymaps’ to direct ancient travellers throughout Greece and Asia Minor .
Homer was probably the last and most accomplished of a long line of bards who wove such knowledge into the epics they memorized and declaimed. After his lifetime the Greek alphabet preserved his works in writing, and the study of the skies changed too, moving away from pure observation to a science that applied mathematics and geometry. The astronomical content of the Iliad was gradually forgotten.
This unique and fascinating book unlocks its hidden meaning once again. It documents one of the most important discoveries this century about the ancient Greek world.

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