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Localization of the Odyssey’s Underworld

Jonathan S. Burgess
p. 15-37

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Odysseus, Underworld, Hades, geography
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  • 1 On ancient and modern localization of Odysseus’ journey, see my webpage « In the Wake of Odysseus  (...)

1Locating the Odyssey’s Underworld would seem to be a ridiculous endeavor. The Odyssey is vague about how Odysseus reaches the Underworld ; its description of Hades is sketchy. And Hades is a supernatural place : how could one discover its location ? Indeed, those intent on following in the wake of Odysseus, no matter how enthusiastic, often steer clear of the Underworld1. But many since Antiquity have localized the Odyssean Underworld, or at least its entrance. Others forego reality and theorize about the abstract cosmography implied by Odysseus’ journey to the Hades. Between these extremes of real-world localization and mental mapping lie a wide variety of arguments, with different implications about the Homeric epic. Concentrating on Odysseus’ journey to the Underworld, I will explore how the geography and spatiality of the wanderings of Odysseus have been variously conceptualized.

  • 2 The most comprehensive collection of localization is by A. Wolf & H.‑H. Wolf, Die Wirkliche Reise (...)

2There are many different types of Homeric localization. Modern books that purport to trace the « real » journey of Odysseus are typically written by amateurs outside of academia, or at least classical studies. Some are composed by sensationalists claiming that Odysseus sailed across the Atlantic or around the world2. But those recounting autoptic visitation of Mediterranean locales, besides providing entertainment as travel writing, can be of interest to Homerists. Examples of what I will call « popular localization » will be discussed towards the end of the paper.

  • 3 For criticism of localization, cf. A. Heubeck, « Books IX-XII », in A. Heubeck, S. West & J. B. Ha (...)
  • 4 J. S. Romm, The Edges of the Earth in Ancient Thought, Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1992 (...)
  • 5 Cf. A. Heubeck, op. cit., p. 4‑5, where ancient and modern localization are conflated as equally « (...)

3« Why bother ? », you may ask3. Popular localizers lead their readers through a close (if tendentious) reading of the wanderings, and they often reference relevant ancient testimony. Their arguments may not persuade us, but their method is comparable to other conceptions of the relation of the journey of Odysseus to the real world. The ancients habitually linked the wanderings of Odysseus to locations in the Mediterranean. I refer not just to geographers like Eratosthenes and Strabo4 ; Greek and Roman inhabitants of Italy and Sicily believed that Odysseus had visited their lands. This was not idle whimsy ; ancient localization involved serious matters of origins and genealogy5. Homerists have theorized about the real world provenance of Odysseus’ journey and explored its cosmographical implications. Methods of connecting the wanderings to Mediterranean places vary greatly, but recurring tendencies are discernible. By comparing and contrasting the diverse ways in which the Homeric Underworld has been conceptualized, we can better frame our own approach to the Odyssey’s underworld episode. I will start with a close reading of the Underworld in the Odyssey before turning to cosmographical localization, geographical localization, and finally popular localization.

  • 6 For a well theorized study of spatial perspective in the Odyssey’s narrative, see A. Purves, Space (...)

4Though localization can be simplistic, it exists on a continuous spectrum with Homeric research, which, after all, is another form of reception. Professionals as well as amateurs are interested in the spatial aspects of the Homeric poem6. Scholarship has often explored the underworld episode’s provenance in the real world and its abstract cosmography. By considering the diversity of ways in which the Homeric Underworld has been conceptualized, we can better frame our own approach to the Odyssey’s underworld episode.

I - The Homeric Underworld

5As has long been recognized, Book XI of the Odyssey seems to begin as a necromancy (the summoning of shades of the dead) before evolving into a katábasis (a heroic journey to the Underworld by a mortal). The seeming disjunction between necromancy and catabasis in the Homeric episode, as well as suspicions of interpolation for such sections as the catalogue of women, the punishment of sinners, and the appearance of Heracles, has encouraged scepticism about the unity of Odyssey XI. In my analysis I will treat the whole of the episode as authentic, and in particular I do not consider the presence of both necromantic and catabatic elements to be poetically problematic. But the seeming conflation of the two has led to very different ways of localizing the scene. The necromantic nature of the episode has tempted some to see real-world nekuomanteîa as foundational for Homer’s Underworld. The Odyssey’s explicit placement of the Underworld at the edge of the earth has inspired others to visualize Odysseus’ journey as movement through an abstract cosmography.

6Before exploring geographical and cosmographical interpretations of the Homeric Underworld, we should consider how the Odyssey itself portrays it. Information about Odysseus’ travel to the Underworld is very limited. When Odysseus announces his intention to leave Circe, she consents but states the necessity of first undertaking a journey to the home of Hades and Persephone (XI, 490-491). Odysseus in dismay points out that nobody has travelled to Hades in a ship (502). Circe replies that his ship will reach Hades without guidance, under the force of the north wind (506-507). When he has travelled through Oceanus (διὨκεανοῖο περήσῃς, 508), she adds, and reaches the « shore and groves of Persephone » (509), with poplars and willows, he should beach the ship « at Oceanus » (ἐπὨκεανῷ, 511). Then he is to proceed to the home of Hades, where the Pyriphlegethon and Kokytos, the latter an offshoot of the Styx, flow together into the Acheron river by a rock (512-515). Circe provides no further spatial information except for the directive to turn the sacrificial animals towards Erebus while facing back towards the « streams of the river » (528-529). The river is apparently Oceanus ; Erebus, literally « darkness », would then refer to the region of Hades, as commonly.

  • 7 Odysseus similarly questions Elpenor (57-58) about how he reached Hades by foot, which reminds one (...)

7The actual journey to Hades seems to proceed as foretold by Circe, though the direction of the guiding wind is not specified (XI, 10), and there is some additional information. Odysseus recalls that the ship sailed all day until the sun set (11-12), and then reached the « limits » (πείραθ', 13) of Oceanus. There, the Phaeacians are told, is where the Cimmerians live, under everlasting night (14-19). The Greeks proceeded « along the stream of Oceanus » (21) until they came to the place specified by Circe. Odysseus does not report that he followed Circe’s directional advice for the sacrifice, but he states that souls immediately gathered from « Erebus » (36-37). Odysseus then sits, except when he tries to embrace his mother, and allows only certain souls to approach and drink the sacrificial blood in order to speak (a conceit that eventually fades from the telling). Of further relevance is Teiresias’ observation that Odysseus « leaving the light of the sun » came to see the dead, and Anticleia’s surprise that her living son could cross rivers and Oceanus, which she claims is possible by ship but not by foot (155-159)7. It has been noticed that Odysseus replies that necessity brought him down to Hades (κατήγαγεν, 164). Catabatic terms to describe the journey are employed elsewhere : when the shade of Achilles asks how Odysseus dared to come down to Hades (κατελθέμεν, 475), and when Odysseus himself says to Penelope that he went down into the house of Hades (κατέβην δόμον Ἄϊδος εἴσω, XXIII, 252).

8After Odysseus has conversations with several heroes who approach him, in some unexplained manner he is able to view souls inside Hades. When Odysseus and the men leave, the current carries the ship on Oceanus (κατὨκεανὸν ποταμὸν, 639), with the men rowing until a wind of unnamed direction impels it. The ship leaves the current of Oceanus (XII, 1) and reaches the flow of the sea (κῦμα θαλάσσης, 2), and eventually Aeaea, where the house of Dawn is located and Helios rises (3-4). Further demarcation of the Underworld is given in the second nékyia in Book XXIV. Here Hermes guides the souls near « the streams of Oceanus », a « white rock », the gates of Helios, and the place of dreams (11-12). Then they find the shades in a field of asphodel (13), where Odysseus had earlier observed shades (XI, 539 ; 573).

II - Homeric cosmography

  • 8 See G. S. Kirk, J. E. Raven & M. Schofield, The Presocratic Philosophers, Cambridge, Cambridge Uni (...)
  • 9 Cf. Iliad VII, 421-423 ; VIII, 485 ; XIX, 433-434 ; Odyssey X, 191 ; XII, 374-388 ; XXIV, 12 ; Hom (...)
  • 10 Key sources are Mimnermus 11a West ; Stesichorus fr. 185 PMG ; see further T. Gantz, Early Greek M (...)
  • 11 D. Ogden, Greek and Roman Necromancy, Princeton, Princeton University Press, 2001, discusses heroi (...)
  • 12 C. Sourvinou-Inwood, Reading Greek Death, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1995, p. 56-65, describes Odyss (...)

9These Homeric details can be contextualized by essential cosmographical concepts of early Greek thought8. The cosmos is visualized as existing on axis of the horizontal and the vertical. In early Greek epic, Olympus is said to be far above the earth and Hades and Tartarus are thought of as far below earth (Iliad VIII, 13-16 ; Hesiod, Theogony 720 sq.). Vertical connection is manifested by pillars or Atlas. The sun sets below the earth in the West and rises in the East, apparently by entering Oceanus, passing beneath the earth, and then rising from Oceanus9. In another conception not found in Homer, Helios and his chariot circle back horizontally from the West on a huge cup. Heracles borrows this cup to travel from the East to Geryon’s Erytheia in Oceanus10. The horizontal nature of Heracles’ cosmographic travel on Oceanus is comparable to Odysseus’ horizontal underworld journey, though catabasis by Heracles and other heroes to Hades is usually vertical, through openings in the earth11. If travelling to the Underworld by sail is unparalleled in Greek myth, it conforms in some ways to traditional concepts of Greek cosmography12.

  • 13 See N. Austin, « The One and the Many in the Homeric Cosmos », Arion 1 (1973-1974), p. 219-274 ; D (...)
  • 14 See G. Cursaru, « Entre l’est et l’ouest, à midi : structures spatio-temporelles de l’île de Circé (...)

10It is hard to comprehend Greek cosmography in accordance with our conceptions of time and space13. Calypso’s island Ogygia is at the navel of the sea (I, 50), for example, yet also peripheral ; not coincidentally she is the daughter of Atlas (VII, 245) , usually located in the West. Circe’s Aeaea is near the home of the dawn goddess Eos and the rising of Helios, and so at the eastern edge of the earth (XII, 3-4). Yet Odysseus claims that he cannot there perceive his location in terms of the compass14.

  • 15 See J. S. Burgess, op. cit. n. 12, p. 198.
  • 16 Cf. Parmenides I, 11-14, which may support an alternate reading of the Theogony passage whereby Da (...)
  • 17 LIMC Suppl. V, s. u. Helios 105 ; see G. F. Pinney & B. S. Ridgway, « Herakles at the Ends of the (...)

11Another confusing passage is especially pertinent to discussion of the Homeric Underworld. At Laestrygonian Telepylus (« Far-gate ») the paths of Night and Day are said to be near each other (X, 86), in explanation of why Laestrygonian shepherds pass each other in and out of pasture (X, 82-83)15. That in Hesiod’s Theogony (747-757) Night and Day pass each other over a threshold next to Atlas holding up heaven in the West (at 517-518 he is near the Hesperids) is seemingly relevant to the Odyssey passage16. Also apparently relevant is a black-figure lekythos from the early fifth century that depicts Helios and his chariot halfway in the sea while Eos and Night ride towards each other on two fluid and curved paths connected to a cave that probably symbolizes an entrance to the Underworld17.

  • 18 See M. West, op. cit., p. 366-367 ; A. Heubeck, op. cit. n. 4, p. 48, for bibliography.
  • 19 Strabo III, 2, 12, cites this passage to support his argument that Tartaros is based on Tartessus.
  • 20 G. Germain, Genèse de l’Odyssée, Paris, Presses universitaires de France, 1954, p. 521-524, sees t (...)
  • 21 See A. Heubeck, op. cit. n. 4, p. 48, followed by D. Nakassis, op. cit. n. 13, p. 224-225, at leas (...)

12Interpretation of such cosmographical material has varied much18. One might understand Telepylus to be somewhere on the western edge of the earth. At Iliad VIII, 485-486, Helios falls into Oceanus while « drawing black Night upon grain-giving land »19. The passage would seem to portray Night naturalistically moving over the earth from the East in the same direction as Day setting in the West. Yet in the Odyssey passage the two shepherds, apparently in reaction to the movement of Day and Night, or perhaps signifying them, move in opposite directions20. That a hypothetically sleepless herdsman could work night and day in Telepylus (Odyssey X, 84-85) has encouraged some to place it in an exotic east of perpetual light, in polar opposition to the Cimmerians of perpetual darkness (XI, 14-24)21.

  • 22 J. S. Burgess, op. cit. n. 12, p. 199, with reference to comparative mythology, following G. Germa (...)
  • 23 G. Nagy, Greek Mythology and Poetics, Ithaca, Cornell University Press, 1990, p. 237.
  • 24 G. Cerri, op. cit. n. 10, distinguishes between a eighth-century mental map of the world and a six (...)

13The location of Laestrygonian Telepylus and Circe’s Aeaea are central to cosmographical reconstructions of Odysseus’ journey to the Underworld. Such efforts are essentially spatially abstract versions of popular localization, especially in their attention to the directional sequence of the hero’s movement on the edges of the earth and to the Underworld. According to my own analysis, Odysseus is able to travel from Telepylus on the western or north-western edge of the world directly to Circe’s Aeaea on the eastern edge of the world because the points of the compass collapse at the earth’s periphery22. G. Nagy argues that Odysseus arrives at a western Aeaea from a western Telepylus, yet returns to an eastern Aeaea from the Underworld23. G. Cerri differently argues that Odysseus and his men experience their adventures on Oceanus, travelling clockwise to Telepylus in the north and then around east to Aeaea. It is maintained that an early Greek conception of the world would conflate the Italian peninsula with the European continent ; through a wide channel that we know of as the straits of Messina, Odysseus sails outward to Oceanus, entering back into the Mediterranean after a full circle24.

  • 25 A. Heubeck, op. cit. n. 4, p. 78. This argument has the advantage of accounting for the north wind (...)
  • 26 A. Heubeck, op. cit. n. 4, p. 78, denies that Odysseus traverses Oceanus, or that it has a farther (...)

14One is reminded of A. Heubeck’s explanation of Odysseus’ trip to Hades as a clockwise circumnavigation of Oceanus, starting from Aeaea in the East, stopping at Hades in the West, and then continuing on Oceanus back to Aeaea25. But G. Cerri’s argument is very different. Besides the placement of most of Odysseus’ wanderings on Oceanus, G. Cerri locates the entrance to Hades in the East, with recourse to the motif of Helios’ cup. Most locate a cosmographical entrance to Hades in the West, as the setting of the sun would seem to suggest, though Greek cosmography implies the existence of a gate in the East from which Helios rises. G. Cerri contends that sailing through the Oceanus (X, 508) to the peirata of the Oceanus (XI, 13) must mean crossing from Aeaea on the inner border eastward to the outer border of Oceanus26.

15These abstract localizations of Odysseus’ journey to Hades all focus on the same suggestive details in Odysseus’ account, as contextualized by early Greek cosmography. Perhaps each, including my own, is vulnerable to criticism to the extent that direction and sequence of movement is emphasized. Greek cosmography defies normal measures of space and time. The argument of D. Nakassis that there existed different bi-polar and uni-polar conceptions of solar phenomena that were sometimes conflated provides the most useful approach to the complex and often perplexing nature of Greek cosmography.

III - Geographical localization

  • 27 See L. Kim, Homer Between History and Fiction in Imperial Greek Literature, Cambridge, Cambridge U (...)
  • 28 Cf. C. Dougherty, The Raft of Odysseus, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2001 ; J. S. Burgess, « “ (...)

16Another perspective on the Homeric Underworld focuses on actual places as inspiration for the cosmographical journey. This is therefore an investigation into origins, not an identification of the spatiality in Homer’s epic. Belief in a Mediterranean reality that Homer exaggerates is essentially the method of Strabo27. Like Eratosthenes, he also assumes that a historical Odysseus made a real voyage in the western Mediterranean (as do most popular localizers and some Homerists). A more nuanced version of the geographical approach is provided by modern postcolonial studies of the Homeric epic28. Since the Odyssey was composed in the age of Greek colonization of the West, it may present a mythologized portrayal of this historical context. That need not entail making exact identification of locales in the wanderings. But as we shall see, some localizers consider Greek expansion in the western Mediterranean to be foundational for the Homeric concept of the Underworld.

  • 29 Cf. E. Rohde, Psyche, New York, Harper & Row (English translation by W. B. Hillis), 1966, p. 24 : (...)
  • 30 E. g., G. L. Huxley, « Odysseus and the Thesprotian Oracle of the Dead », PP 13 (1958), p. 246-247 (...)
  • 31 D. Ogden, op. cit. n. 11, p. XXIV-XXV and 43-64, with D. Ogden, « How “ Western ” were the Ancient (...)

17Pausanias (I, 17, 4) claims that Homer created his Underworld after viewing the river Acheron in Thesprotia, to the point of transferring the names of the Thesprotian rivers Acheron and Cocytus to Hades29. Since Thesprotian Acheron was the site of a nekuomanteîon associated with mythological catabases, many have found this approach attractive30. D. Ogden argues that the Thesprotian nekuomanteîon is documented by the Homeric episode of Odysseus’ journey to the Underworld, maintaining further that Greek colonists relocated the Homeric episode to Avernus in Italy31.

  • 32 Cf. Iliad II, 749-750 ; XVI, 234-235 ; Odyssey XIV, 327-328 = XIX, 296-297, with particular refere (...)
  • 33 For the possibility of a Homeric conception of Pylus (« Gate ») of western Greece as the gates of (...)

18Pausanias assumes that Homer innovatively transformed his autoptic knowledge of Thesprotian Acheron into something fantastic, but the Acheron theory need not imply that a Thesprotian location for Odysseus’ underworld journey is signalled by the Homeric text. Homeric meaning is not the same as Homeric origins or reception. The Odyssey explicitly speaks of Odysseus traveling to the edge of the earth and otherwise references Thesprotia as a known part of northwest Greece32. The poem probably does not expect its audience to regard one locale as both geographically identifiable and fantastic33.

  • 34 See R. J. Clark, Catabasis : Vergil and the Wisdom-Tradition, Amsterdam, B. R. Grüner, 1978, p. 54 (...)
  • 35 See M. L. West, « Odyssey and Argonautica », CQ 55 (2005), p. 39-64. At Odyssey XII, 70 Circe ment (...)
  • 36 Crete is often featured in the disguised hero’s tales. See S. Reece, « The Cretan Odyssey : A Lie (...)
  • 37 G. Danek, Epos und Zitat : Studien zu den Quellen der Odyssee, Vienna, Verlag der Österreichischen (...)
  • 38 G. Danek, Ibid., explores the Odyssey’s relation to alternative or competing narratives. Cf. J. S. (...)

19The Thesprotian Acheron theory is only one of several hypotheses concerning the geographical origins of the Odyssey34. Many believe that the wanderings of Odysseus are based on the voyage of the Argo in the Black Sea35, and there is also a Cretan hypothesis, according to which the real-world lying tales of Odysseus resemble an original or competing version of the wanderings36. This theory is especially relevant to our concerns because of its Thesprotian corollary, in which the visit by « Odysseus » to the Thesprotian oracle of Dodona in Odysseus’ lying tales (XIV, 314-340 ; XIX, 270-299) reflects a pre-Homeric version of the wanderings of Odysseus37. Arguably a summoning of the shade of Teiresias would then occur at the Acheron nekuomanteîon. But the question remains whether pre-Homeric material has a presence with narratological significance in the Odyssey. Opinion varies about the allusive resonance of vestigial pre-Homeric material in the Odyssey. The Homeric poem may acknowledge or disown its background — if it is even aware of it38.

IV - Modern popular localization

20Popular localizers typically find explicit evidence for « real » locations in the Homeric poem. It is a trope of the genre for the localizer to travel with a text of the Odyssey open in hand. Some consider Odysseus a historical character who really did wander in the Mediterranean ; some believe that Homer had certain locations in mind, perhaps after visiting these places himself. The distinction between a historical and a fictionalized journey of Odysseus is not always made. Concern with tracing a coherent whole of the journey, characteristic of the popularizing localizer, is seemingly motivated by faith in its historical reality or a desire to vindicate Homer’s geographical knowledge. Where the Homeric text is not forthcoming with information, the localizer seeks to explain, often with the rhetoric of discovery, what Homer really meant. Key textual evidence for popular localizers includes direction of wind, duration of travel between landings, and description of topographical features. Autopsy is considered essential ; the popular localizer seeks to match features of visited landscape to Homeric descriptions of Odysseus’ stopping points.

  • 39 P. Clüver, Sicilia Antiqua, Leiden, 1619, p. 255-264.
  • 40 Ibid., p. 256.

21Given the amount of popular localization, I must discuss its treatment of the Homeric Underworld by reference to just a few select examples. In the early 17th century Philipp Clüver, the Polish historian and geographer, wrote an essay on the journey of Odysseus in his book about Sicily39. P. Clüver traveled extensively through the lands he wrote about. Unlike many popular localizers, he makes clear from the start that he is interpreting Homer’s telling of the voyage, not the actual voyage of a historical Odysseus40. The geographer believed that Homeric locations could be found in Sicily and Italy, and he portrayed these as stops on a continuous, coherent journey. In this P. Clüver anticipates a common tenet of modern localization.

  • 41 Ibid., p. 260-261. D. Ogden, op. cit. n. 11, p. 61-74, convincingly argues that no cave in the are (...)
  • 42 P. Clüver, op. cit., p. 258-259.
  • 43 On which see E. D. Phillips, op. cit. n. 31, with I. Malkin, op. cit. n. 5, p. 178-209.

22P. Clüver sees Avernus as the locale of the Odyssean Underworld, with a cave serving as the entrance to the Underworld41. Topography is central to P. Clüver’s argumentation. For example, he asserts that west not east Sicily was the location of the Cyclopes, since only the Egadi islands offered a suitable candidate for « Goat Island »42. Less realistically, P. Clüver thinks that the waters of the Lucrine bay and Lake Avernus represent the Oceanus of the Homeric episode. Why the Homeric text transforms the Italian location into Oceanus, his concise Latin does not articulate. But P. Clüver is not interpreting the Odyssey ; instead, he cited the extremely brief Latin summary of the epic by the 4th century Ausonius. To be fair, P. Clüver’s knowledge of ancient mythological and literary traditions is superior to that of many recent localizers. He is aware, for example, of the legend whereby Aeneas and Odysseus travel to Italy together43, and he is certain that Aeneas visited Avernus in traditions long before Vergil. All this is commendable, excepting the under-theorized linkage of Avernus to the Homeric Underworld.

  • 44 F. L. zu Stolberg, Travels through Germany, Switzerland, Italy, and Sicily, London, G. G. & J. Rob (...)
  • 45 F. L. zu Stolberg, Ibid., vol. 2, p. 438, translating P. Clüver on Avernus ; further on Avernus, s (...)

23In the late 18th century Friedrich Leopold zu Stolberg criticized P. Clüver on this very point in his epistolary account of travels in Europe. He knows his classical literature, and he is also informed on localization theories. F. L. zu Stolberg is not necessarily hostile to them ; he is inclined to think, for example, that the Homeric Cyclopes are an exaggerated portrayal of natives on west Sicily44. But he complains that P. Clüver wrongly « encourages the dream » that Avernus is the place of the Homeric Underworld45. If Homer visited the area, F. L. zu Stolberg states, he would not have been impressed enough to make the connection. He is not willing to concede that Avernus on the Italian peninsula could correspond to a mythological river surrounding the earth, even through hyperbole.

  • 46 See A. Wolf, op. cit. n. 3, p. 311-312.

24Many localizers, it should be said, leave Odysseus’ trip to Hades to one side, viewing the episode as too supernatural to relate to the real world in any way. Those who try to make the connection must ignore much of the text, or construct an elaborate hypothesis involving originary layering and / or poetical embellishment. It is relevant that F. L. zu Stolberg refers approvingly to the map of his contemporary J. H. Voss, which becomes increasingly conceptual at the periphery of the Mediterranean world46. The development of this type of map marks an advance in the theorization of the localization of Odysseus’ journey.

  • 47 V. Bérard, L’Odyssée. Poésie homérique, Paris, Les Belles Lettres, 1924. The localization books ar (...)
  • 48 V. Bérard, Les Phéniciens et l’Odyssée, Paris, Armand Colin, 1902-1903, p. 312-329 ; Les Navigatio (...)
  • 49 V. Bérard, Les Phéniciens et l’Odyssée, Paris, Armand Colin, 1902-1903, p. 313-319 ; Les Navigation (...)

25Over the last hundred years, popular localization of the route of Odysseus has expanded greatly. The most prominent localizer in the first half of the twentieth century was Victor Bérard, a Homeric scholar who produced a critical text and translation of the Odyssey47. V. Bérard travelled extensively to Odyssean locales (his publications often include dated journal entries that read like travel writing). For the Underworld V. Bérard essentially adhered to the Avernus theory48. The author is plausible enough in his nautical demonstration of a day’s sail south from Monte Circeo to Cape Misenum, and in his frequent comparisons of volcanic activity to the Homeric description of Hades. The reader may be forgiven, however, for being less than patient with a description of the Lucrine lake as Oceanus, bolstered by a tendentious etymological and geographical explanation49. Etymological argumentation with reference to Semitic roots is central to V. Bérard’s main hypothesis, which was that Phoenician períploi, or shipping routes, were the ultimate source of Homer’s information. This argument is not taken seriously today. Also problematic is the claim that the identification of Avernus and other Italian sites with Odysseus goes back to prehistory.

  • 50 V. Bérard, Dans le sillage d’Ulysse, Paris, Armand Colin, 1933, publishes the photos of Frédéric B (...)
  • 51 J. Cuisenier, Le Périple d’Ulysse, Paris, Fayard, 2003, p. 293-300.

26But V. Bérard’s return to tracing Odysseus’ travel on a geographically correct map has become the current norm, and his method of autoptic research by boat has been influential50. For example, at the beginning of this millennium Jean Cuisenier updated the sea-going approach of V. Bérard. Though a philosopher and anthropologist by training, J. Cuisenier displays much oceanographical and meterological knowledge in his expeditions. However, he largely follows in the wake of V. Bérard — like his predecessor, he sails down from Monte Circeo, moors his boat at Misenum, and walks to Avernus51.

  • 52 T. Severin, The Ulysses Voyage, London, Hutchison, 1987 p. 143-150. The great travel writer Patric (...)
  • 53 T. Severin, Ibid., p. 184-193.

27A more historicizing recreation of the journey of Odysseus was made in the 1980s by Tim Severin, who has made a career out of retracing journeys, both historical and fictional. For Greek myth, T. Severin first gave his attention to the voyage of the Argo, constructing a Bronze Age ship in which to recreate the journey. This Argo was subsequently utilized to recreate the journey of Odysseus. The resulting route in the eastern Mediterranean to the Ionian Islands is rather restricted, portrayed as a historical journey that later became greatly exaggerated. One stop is at Cape Tainaron, which happens to be the site of an ancient nekuomanteîon52. A cave there was sometimes linked with heroic catabasis. Though T. Severin is sympathetic to the view that western Greece could once have been regarded as the edge of the world (cf. supra n. 33), he continues further north to Thesprotian Acheron for the Homeric Underworld53. T. Severin is an expert seaman and is reasonably well informed about ancient evidence, but the argument is naively historicist. And as often with popular localization, the book expends more energy on trying to astound the reader than explaining the methodology in a clear manner.

  • 54 L. G. Pocock, Reality and Allegory in the Odyssey, Amsterdam, A. M. Hakkert, 1959, p. 72-88.
  • 55 See H.‑G. Nesselrath, op. cit. n. 29.

28Though Lake Avernus is the favored localization of Odysseus’ Underworld, both in Antiquity and post-Antiquity, other theories have occasionally arisen. One would place the Odyssean Underworld at or just outside the pillars of Heracles. In the 1950s Lewis Pocock argued at length for this identification, though as an admirer of Samuel Butler’s The Authoress of the Odyssey he focused on Sicily for most of his localizations54. Soon afterward Ernle Bradford, an experienced sailor with a background in Classics, made the same argument more diffidently. The Gibraltar localization at least has the benefit of respecting the peripheral nature of the Odyssean underworld entrance, and the Pillars of Heracles were not uncommonly considered the edge of the world in early Greek myth55. However, a glance at E. Bradford’s map indicates why this identification is inconsistent with his real-world methodology : it is too far west from the other localizations for a day’s trip.

  • 56 A. Wolf & H.‑H. Wolf, op. cit. n. 2, p. 53-61.
  • 57 W. Geisthovel, Homer’s Mediterranean, London, Haus Publishing, 2010, p. 91-100.
  • 58 The descent was traditionally at the fountain Cyane near Syracuse. See, e. g. Diodorus Siculus V, (...)
  • 59 A. Wolf & H.‑H. Wolf, op. cit. n. 2, p. 30 ; A. Wolf, op. cit. n. 2, p. 322.

29Another localization of the Homeric Underworld is at Enna. This is proposed by Armin Wolf, a Medievalist who with the assistance of a brother produced the most comprehensive compilation of localization theories56. Noting that the abduction of Persephone was located in the fields outside of Enna in Antiquity, A. Wolf argues that this is Odysseus’ Underworld entrance. The excellent travel writer Wolfgang Geisthovel follows A. Wolf in this and other localizations, and at least makes the theory entertaining as travel writing57. But of course the hypothesis is not defensible if judged in geographical or rational terms. Poor Odysseus must moor his boat at Himera, a far walk from Enna, and if Enna is apparently where Hades ascends, it is not where he descends with Persephone58. A. Wolf’s argument is motivated by a need to find a nearby underworld entrance in the vicinity of Sicily, around which he locates most of the journey. But it should be noted that before pursuing localization on a real-world map the Wolfs create a more defensible schematic map, based on the Odyssey’s indication of wind direction and duration of travel59.

30One cannot find much clarity in the Odyssey about the spatiality of Odysseus’ wanderings, real-world or otherworld. The wanderings are told by a character who is perpetually lost, and his travel to the underworld episode depends on the instructions and magical assistance of Circe. As with indications of travel in the rest of the wanderings (usually wind direction and duration of sailing), the information that Odysseus reports about his voyage to and back from the Underworld is meager and incomplete. The Odyssey would seem more interested in exploring the poetics of Odysseus meeting shades than providing an itinerary, explicit or latent, for travel to and from Hades. The epic does not plausibly motivate the journey and seems unconcerned by inconcinnity, such as the apparent conflation of necromancy with catabasis.

  • 60 On theories of Homeric hinting by ancient historians and Strabo, see L. Kim, op. cit. n. 28, p. 30 (...)

31It may be that the Odyssey assumes an audience conversant with Greek cosmography and thus able to comprehend the spatiality of this supernatural journey. A cosmographical interpretation of Odysseus’ travel to Hades, even if insufficiently supported by the evidence of the text, might serve to inform the modern audience of the proper mentalité with which to understand an ancient conception of the trip. But localizers tend to disregard reception of the poem, portraying themselves as uncovering hidden meanings. It is the text’s insufficient evidence and inconsistency that offers opportunity for original analysis. Ancient as well as modern localizers would have us believe that the wanderings contain key bits of information about real Mediterranean locations, whether vestigial or allusive60. Conceiving of the text as a transformed or veiled account of an actual journey by a historical Odysseus, they are confident in their ability to crack its code.

32Such an interpretative stance should be met with scepticism. But we should also recognize that Homerists indulge in similar proclivities, if less baldly and clumsily. With recourse to varying degrees of historicism and intentionalism, they have interpreted the wanderings as a reflection or transformation of a preceding reality. The supposition that the Homeric wanderings innovatively modify a geographically anchored version of the wanderings, as in the lying tales, is especially popular. The possibility that the Homeric poem inspired subsequent localization is of less interest to Homerists, since localization is dismissed as non-Homeric.

33In the sense that the epic wants us to think that its Heroic Age hero travels in unknown lands, localization is indeed non-Homeric. But ancient localization of the wanderings, which may be an organic aspect of Odyssean myth rather than reception of the Odyssey, is an important aspect of the cultural history of Antiquity. And linkage of the underworld episode, with real-world nekuomanteîa as suggested in Antiquity and in modern scholarship, is of contextual relevance to the Odyssey. Though the poem does not locate the scene at a known geographical place, the behavior of Odysseus suggests necromancy. The relevance of historical places of necromancy to the poem, whether in terms of origins or reception, should continue to be discussed.

  • 61 See J. S. Burgess, « Belatedness in the Travels of Odysseus », in F. Montanari & A. Rengakos (eds) (...)

34Though localization of the wanderings in all its forms is flawed, it remains problematic, in the manner of Eratosthenes, to portray the Homeric account of the journey of Odysseus as mere poetic fantasy. This point of view, both in Antiquity and in the modern world, tends to contain the unfortunate implication that myth and poetry are free of the taint of the real world. We certainly should avoid succumbing to a historicist belief in the reality of Odysseus’ journey or an intentionalist interpretation of Homer’s hidden meaning, but it is also problematic to insist that this mythological story of a Heroic Age journey is completely divorced from the world contemporary to the Odyssey’s composition. The Homeric text does not place the wanderings of Odysseus in locations known to the hero, but the wanderings would seem to occur in a Mediterranean inhabited by exotic non-Greeks as well as more supernatural beings61. The postcolonial interpretation of the epic as employing discourses arising from historical and geographical realities of the time of its composition avoids the positivism of other interpretative positions surveyed above. The concerns of this approach, however, are not as relevant to underworld episode.

  • 62 To cite skilled Unitarian studies of Book XI of the Odyssey, see G. Crane, op. cit. n. 30 ; O. Tsa (...)
  • 63 I thank the student researchers who have worked on my « In the Wake of Odysseus » website, with pa (...)

35My discussion may seem unusually accommodating of popular localization, which is routinely rejected by the academic world. But besides identifying difficulties of popular localization, I have pointed out that its methodology is comparable to that of Homerists to some degree62. Both popular localization and Homeric studies undertake close reading in a search for clues, and the arguments of both can be breathtaking in their boldness. This may seem to condemn the propensity of Homerists to speculate as much as it defends popular localization. But the spatiality of the wanderings remains a fascinating and important topic, if best pursued with self-conscious awareness of our assumptions and methodology63.

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Notes

1 On ancient and modern localization of Odysseus’ journey, see my webpage « In the Wake of Odysseus ». One section concerns « The Ultimate Journey : The Underworld ». L. Antonelli, « Le Localizzazioni della Nékyia di Odisseo » in L. Braccesi (ed.), Hesperià : Studi sulla Grecità di Occidente, Rome, L’Erma di Bretschneider, 1995, vol. 5, p. 203-222, surveys methods of localizing the Nékyia.

2 The most comprehensive collection of localization is by A. Wolf & H.‑H. Wolf, Die Wirkliche Reise des Odysseus, Munich / Vienna, Langen Müller, 1983. My website « In the Wake of Odysseus » provides more recent examples. See A. Wolf, Hatte Homer eine Karte ? Karlsruhe, Fachhochschule Karlsruhe, 1997, for exposition of Armin Wolf’s own thesis. A. Wolf, « Mapping Homer’s Odyssey », in G. Tolias & D. Loupis (eds), Eastern Mediterranean Cartographies, Athens, Institute for Neohellenic Research, 2004, p. 309-334, usefully surveys maps of the journey of Odysseus, noting that comprehensive tracing of the whole journey is a key characteristic of modern localization.

3 For criticism of localization, cf. A. Heubeck, « Books IX-XII », in A. Heubeck, S. West & J. B. Hainsworth (eds), A Commentary on Homer’s Odyssey, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1990, vol. 2, p. 4‑7 ; J. S. Romm, « Odysseus’ Wanderings », in M. Finkelberg (ed.), The Homer Encyclopedia, Malden / Oxford, Blackwell, 2011, vol. 2, p. 587.

4 J. S. Romm, The Edges of the Earth in Ancient Thought, Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1992, p. 183-195, surveys geographical debate about Odysseus’ journey in Antiquity.

5 Cf. A. Heubeck, op. cit., p. 4‑5, where ancient and modern localization are conflated as equally « pointless ». See I. Malkin, The Returns of Odysseus, Berkeley, University of California Press, 1998, for the historical and geographical employment of nostoi myths, including that of Odysseus.

6 For a well theorized study of spatial perspective in the Odyssey’s narrative, see A. Purves, Space and Time in Ancient Greek Narrative, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2010, p. 65-96.

7 Odysseus similarly questions Elpenor (57-58) about how he reached Hades by foot, which reminds one of a typological question put to newcomers to Ithaca, sometimes seen as a joke. Cf. Odyssey I, 171-173 = XIV, 188-190 ; XVI, 57-59 and 222-224.

8 See G. S. Kirk, J. E. Raven & M. Schofield, The Presocratic Philosophers, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1983 (1957), p. 9-13, for an overview. Hesiod is essential ; see D. Clay, « The World of Hesiod », Ramus 21 (1992), p. 131-155. D. Ogden, « Dimensions of Death in the Greek and Roman Worlds », in P. Gemeinhardt & A. Zgoll (eds), Weltkonstruktionen, Tübingen, Mohr Siebeck, 2010, p. 103-131, insightfully discusses the spatial and temporal aspects of the Greek Underworld from the perspective of nekuomanteîa.

9 Cf. Iliad VII, 421-423 ; VIII, 485 ; XIX, 433-434 ; Odyssey X, 191 ; XII, 374-388 ; XXIV, 12 ; Homeric Hymn to Hermes 68‑69. See further A. Ballabriga, Le Soleil et le tartare : L’image mythique du monde en Grèce archaïque, Paris, Éditions EHESS, 1986.

10 Key sources are Mimnermus 11a West ; Stesichorus fr. 185 PMG ; see further T. Gantz, Early Greek Myth, Baltimore, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1993, p. 31, and G. Cerri, « L’Ade ad Oriente, viaggio quotidiano del carro del Sole e direzione della corrente dell’Oceano », in L. Breglia & A. Moleti (eds), Hespería. Tradizioni, Rotte, Paesaggi, Paestum, Pandemos, 2014, p. 169-172, for discussion.

11 D. Ogden, Greek and Roman Necromancy, Princeton, Princeton University Press, 2001, discusses heroic catabasis at necromantic sites.

12 C. Sourvinou-Inwood, Reading Greek Death, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1995, p. 56-65, describes Odysseus’ journey to Hades as innovative. Non-Greek Mesopotamian, Egyptian, and Indo-European traditions are comparable, however ; see J. S. Burgess, « Odysseus and Gilgamesh in the Otherworld », Classical Views / Échos du monde classique 18 (1999), p. 171-210.

13 See N. Austin, « The One and the Many in the Homeric Cosmos », Arion 1 (1973-1974), p. 219-274 ; D. Nakassis, « Gemination at the Horizons : East and West in the Mythical Geography of Archaic Greek Epic », TAPhA 134 (2004), p. 215-233. The observations of D. Ogden, op. cit. n. 8, on the elasticity of space and time in the Underworld are relevant.

14 See G. Cursaru, « Entre l’est et l’ouest, à midi : structures spatio-temporelles de l’île de Circé », LEC 76 (2008), p. 39-64, for the spatial-temporal complexity of Aeaea. Human perception of spatiality may be impossible at the edge of the earth, but see J. S. Burgess, « Belatedness in the Odyssey », in F. Montanari, A. Rengakos & C. C. Tsagalis (eds), Homeric Contexts : Neoanalysis and the Interpretation of Oral Poetry, Berlin, de Gruyter, 2012, p. 276-277, for a less cosmographical interpretation of this passage.

15 See J. S. Burgess, op. cit. n. 12, p. 198.

16 Cf. Parmenides I, 11-14, which may support an alternate reading of the Theogony passage whereby Day and Night are separate. This is rejected by D. Nakassis, op. cit., p. 218 n. 13, following M. L. West, Hesiod : Theogony, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1966, p. 366-367. D. Nakassis argues that from a « cosmic or panoptic » perspective the sun is conceived to rise and set in a « uni-polar » location.

17 LIMC Suppl. V, s. u. Helios 105 ; see G. F. Pinney & B. S. Ridgway, « Herakles at the Ends of the Earth », JHS 101 (1981), p. 141-144, whose interpretation I follow at J. S. Burgess, op. cit. n. 12, p 196‑197, though seeing paths not mist.

18 See M. West, op. cit., p. 366-367 ; A. Heubeck, op. cit. n. 4, p. 48, for bibliography.

19 Strabo III, 2, 12, cites this passage to support his argument that Tartaros is based on Tartessus.

20 G. Germain, Genèse de l’Odyssée, Paris, Presses universitaires de France, 1954, p. 521-524, sees the shepherds as metaphors for Day and Night.

21 See A. Heubeck, op. cit. n. 4, p. 48, followed by D. Nakassis, op. cit. n. 13, p. 224-225, at least from a « bi-polar » perspective. Crates (schol. ad X, 86) initiated the popular theory that description of Telepylus reflects knowledge of long days in the far north. Some believe with Strabo (III, 2, 12) that Homer innovatively transferred historical Cimmerians of the East to the West. On the relation between Homeric Cimmerians and the historical Cimmerians see A. Heubeck, op. cit. n. 4, p. 77-79 ; D. Ogden, op. cit. n. 11, p. 44.

22 J. S. Burgess, op. cit. n. 12, p. 199, with reference to comparative mythology, following G. Germain, op. cit., p. 414-417 and 421-422.

23 G. Nagy, Greek Mythology and Poetics, Ithaca, Cornell University Press, 1990, p. 237.

24 G. Cerri, op. cit. n. 10, distinguishes between a eighth-century mental map of the world and a sixth-century conception ; actual maps are provided as demonstration. The 1926 map by Albert Herrmann similarly placed the Cyclopes, Laestrygonians, and Cimmerians on the inner shore of Oceanus (A. Wolf, « Mapping Homer’s Odyssey », in G. Tolias & D. Loupis (eds), Eastern Mediterranean Cartographies, Athens, Institute for Neohellenic Research, 2004, p. 316). A. Wolf includes a number of modern maps of the voyage of Odysseus with a geographically correct central Mediterranean surrounded by hazier outlines towards Oceanus. Cf. the conceptual map by A. Ballabriga, Les Fictions d’Homère. L’invention mythologique et cosmographique dans l’Odyssée, Paris, Presses universitaires de France, 1998, p. 111, representing an Archaic Age concept of the world.

25 A. Heubeck, op. cit. n. 4, p. 78. This argument has the advantage of accounting for the north wind (X, 507) that impels Odysseus’ ship at the start of the journey, as G. Cerri’s explication does not.

26 A. Heubeck, op. cit. n. 4, p. 78, denies that Odysseus traverses Oceanus, or that it has a farther shore.

27 See L. Kim, Homer Between History and Fiction in Imperial Greek Literature, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2010, p. 47-84, for an incisive exploration of Strabo’s attitude towards Homer.

28 Cf. C. Dougherty, The Raft of Odysseus, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2001 ; J. S. Burgess, « “ If Peopled and Cultured ” : Bartram’s Travels and the Odyssey », in G. R. Ricci (ed.), Travel, Discovery, Transformation, New Brunswick, Transaction Publishers, 2014, p. 19-44, with bibliography.

29 Cf. E. Rohde, Psyche, New York, Harper & Row (English translation by W. B. Hillis), 1966, p. 24 : « Homer knows nothing of necromancy or the oracles of the dead » ; see further p. 52, n. 73. Pausanias also reports that Orpheus visited the Thesprotian nekuomanteîon (IX, 30, 6) and that Heracles brought the white poplar (V, 14, 2-3,cf. X, 510) from Thesprotian Acheron into Greece. Evidence for northwest Greek localization has been found at Odyssey XXIV, 11 : the souls of the slain suitors pass by « a white rock », perhaps « the Leukadian cliff » from which Sappho leapt (see G. Nagy, op. cit. n. 23, p. 223-262). See A. Heubeck, « Books XXIII–XXIV », in A. Heubeck, S. West & J. B. Hainsworth (eds), A Commentary on Homer’s Odyssey, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1992, vol. 3, p. 360, with D. Ogden, op. cit. n. 11, p. 44 ; H.‑G. Nesselrath, « “ Where the Lord of the Sea Grants Passage to Sailors through the Deep-Blue Mere No More ” : The Greeks and the Western Seas », G&R 52 (2005), p. 154. The shades first pass Oceanus, however. R. G. Edmonds III, « Underworld, Topography of », in M. Finkelberg (ed.) The Homer Encyclopedia, Malden / Oxford, Blackwell, 2011, vol. 3, p. 909, links the « white rock » of XXIV, 11 to the rock by underworld rivers at X, 515.

30 E. g., G. L. Huxley, « Odysseus and the Thesprotian Oracle of the Dead », PP 13 (1958), p. 246-247 ; W. Burkert, Greek Religion, Cambridge, Blackwell (English translation by J. Raffan), 1985, p. 114 ; G. Crane, Calypso : Backgrounds and Conventions of the Odyssey, Frankfurt, Athenäum, 1988, p. 93 ; J. Marks, Zeus in the Odyssey, Washington / Cambridge, Center for Hellenic Studies, 2008, p. 102 ; S. West, « Odyssean Stratigraphy », in O. Andersen & D. T. T. Haug (eds), Relative Chronology in Early Greek Epic Poetry, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2012, p. 129-130. See A. Heubeck, op. cit. n. 4, p. 75, for further bibliography. See D. Ogden, op. cit. n. 11, p. 43-60, on the Acheron nekuomanteîon.

31 D. Ogden, op. cit. n. 11, p. XXIV-XXV and 43-64, with D. Ogden, « How “ Western ” were the Ancient Oracles of the Dead ? », in L. Breglia & A. Moleti (eds), op. cit. n. 10, p. 231-236. On Odysseus associated with Avernus by the Classical Period, see E. D. Phillips, « Odysseus in Italy », JHS 73 (1953), p. 56 ; 59-60 ; 67. L. Antonelli, op. cit. n. 2, p. 221-222, argues for a Euboean role in localization of the Odyssean Underworld at Thesprotian Acheron and beyond.

32 Cf. Iliad II, 749-750 ; XVI, 234-235 ; Odyssey XIV, 327-328 = XIX, 296-297, with particular reference to the oracle at Dodona, on which see H. W. Parke, The Oracles of Zeus : Dodona, Olympia, Ammon, Oxford, Blackwell, 1967, p. 11-13 ; 20-33.

33 For the possibility of a Homeric conception of Pylus (« Gate ») of western Greece as the gates of Hades, see G. Nagy, op. cit. n. 23, p. 226, with Iliad V, 397. J. Marks, op. cit. n. 30, p. 101, argues that the Odyssey’s failure to link the Cyclopes or Thrinacia to Sicily despite references to the island (XX, 383 ; XXIV, 211 ; 307 ; 366 ; 389) results from pan-Hellenic suppression of local traditions.

34 See R. J. Clark, Catabasis : Vergil and the Wisdom-Tradition, Amsterdam, B. R. Grüner, 1978, p. 54-72, for a survey.

35 See M. L. West, « Odyssey and Argonautica », CQ 55 (2005), p. 39-64. At Odyssey XII, 70 Circe mentions that the Argo passed through the wandering rocks, but this serves rather to distinguish Odysseus’ journey from that of the Argo, cf. J. S. Burgess, op. cit. n. 14, p. 273-274.

36 Crete is often featured in the disguised hero’s tales. See S. Reece, « The Cretan Odyssey : A Lie Truer than Truth », AJP 115 (1994), p. 157-173 ; S. West, op. cit. n. 30, p. 125.

37 G. Danek, Epos und Zitat : Studien zu den Quellen der Odyssee, Vienna, Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 1998, p. 215-216 ; J. Marks, op. cit. n. 30, p. 89-92, provides excellent discussion.

38 G. Danek, Ibid., explores the Odyssey’s relation to alternative or competing narratives. Cf. J. S. Burgess, The Death and Afterlife of Achilles, Baltimore, Johns Hopkins University Press, 2009, which argues for the allusive presence of pre-Homeric myth in the Iliad.

39 P. Clüver, Sicilia Antiqua, Leiden, 1619, p. 255-264.

40 Ibid., p. 256.

41 Ibid., p. 260-261. D. Ogden, op. cit. n. 11, p. 61-74, convincingly argues that no cave in the area was connected with the nekuomanteîon. The amateur populizer R. Paget, In the Footsteps of Orpheus : The Story of the Finding and Identification of the Lost Entrance to Hades, the Oracle of the Dead, the River Styx and the Infernal Regions of the Greeks, London, Hale, 1967, claimed that tunnels and water channels under Baiae were the cave and the « Styx ».

42 P. Clüver, op. cit., p. 258-259.

43 On which see E. D. Phillips, op. cit. n. 31, with I. Malkin, op. cit. n. 5, p. 178-209.

44 F. L. zu Stolberg, Travels through Germany, Switzerland, Italy, and Sicily, London, G. G. & J. Robinson (English translation by T. Holcroft), 1797, vol. 3, p. 365.

45 F. L. zu Stolberg, Ibid., vol. 2, p. 438, translating P. Clüver on Avernus ; further on Avernus, see vol. 2, p. 425 and 435-445 ; vol. 3, p. 9-22 and 53-54.

46 See A. Wolf, op. cit. n. 3, p. 311-312.

47 V. Bérard, L’Odyssée. Poésie homérique, Paris, Les Belles Lettres, 1924. The localization books are Les Phéniciens et l’Odyssée, Paris, Armand Colin, 1902-1903, and Les Navigations d’Ulysse, Paris, Armand Colin, 1927-1929, in four volumes. An appendix to V. Bérard, Dans le sillage d’Ulysse, Paris, Armand Colin, 1933, conveniently summarizes his otherwise verbosely expressed views.

48 V. Bérard, Les Phéniciens et l’Odyssée, Paris, Armand Colin, 1902-1903, p. 312-329 ; Les Navigations d’Ulysse, Paris, Armand Colin, 1929, vol. 4, p. 346-374. E. D. Phillips, op. cit. n. 31, p. 161-162, finds V. Bérard’s localization in western Italy of interest.

49 V. Bérard, Les Phéniciens et l’Odyssée, Paris, Armand Colin, 1902-1903, p. 313-319 ; Les Navigations d’Ulysse, Paris, Armand Colin, 1929, vol. 4, p. 361-363.

50 V. Bérard, Dans le sillage d’Ulysse, Paris, Armand Colin, 1933, publishes the photos of Frédéric Boissonnas, who accompanied him on some travels.

51 J. Cuisenier, Le Périple d’Ulysse, Paris, Fayard, 2003, p. 293-300.

52 T. Severin, The Ulysses Voyage, London, Hutchison, 1987 p. 143-150. The great travel writer Patrick Leigh Fermor has a brief section in which he visits the « cave of Hades » at Cape Tainaron (Mani. Travels in the Southern Peloponnese, New York, Murray, 1958, p. 129-132). His local guide actually takes him to a seaside cave, not the underground cavern associated with the nekuomanteîon. P. L. Fermor’s evocative prose does reward us with a vivid description of his swim in the sea cave, as well as a brief and rather misleadingly vague summary of the cape’s association with heroic catabases (for Odysseus, he prefers Thesprotian Acheron).

53 T. Severin, Ibid., p. 184-193.

54 L. G. Pocock, Reality and Allegory in the Odyssey, Amsterdam, A. M. Hakkert, 1959, p. 72-88.

55 See H.‑G. Nesselrath, op. cit. n. 29.

56 A. Wolf & H.‑H. Wolf, op. cit. n. 2, p. 53-61.

57 W. Geisthovel, Homer’s Mediterranean, London, Haus Publishing, 2010, p. 91-100.

58 The descent was traditionally at the fountain Cyane near Syracuse. See, e. g. Diodorus Siculus V, 3-4 ; Cicero, Verres IV, 107, with D. Ogden, op. cit. n. 8, p. 108-109.

59 A. Wolf & H.‑H. Wolf, op. cit. n. 2, p. 30 ; A. Wolf, op. cit. n. 2, p. 322.

60 On theories of Homeric hinting by ancient historians and Strabo, see L. Kim, op. cit. n. 28, p. 30-35 ; 51.

61 See J. S. Burgess, « Belatedness in the Travels of Odysseus », in F. Montanari & A. Rengakos (eds), op. cit. n. 14, p. 269-290.

62 To cite skilled Unitarian studies of Book XI of the Odyssey, see G. Crane, op. cit. n. 30 ; O. Tsagarakis, Studies in Odyssey XI, Stuttgart, Steiner, 2000, and S. West, op. cit. n. 30. G. Crane and O. Tsagarakis well survey potential influences, including necromancy, but defend the episode’s poetic coherence. S. West acknowledges problems in order to trace how Homer changed his text over time.

63 I thank the student researchers who have worked on my « In the Wake of Odysseus » website, with particular gratitude for the research of Hana Carrozza, Maya Chakravorty, and Tim Perry for this study. I am grateful for funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

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Jonathan S. Burgess

University of Toronto

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