Archaeologists in Greece have discovered what they think is the oldest written record of Homer’s poem Odyssey.
The clay tablet, inscribed around 200-300 CE (Roman era), was unearthed near the Temple of Zeus in the ancient city of Olympia, southern Greece.
The find was made by Dr. Kolia Erofili-Irida, director of the Ephorate of Antiquities of Ilia, and archaeologists from the Universities of Tübingen, Darmstadt, and Frankfurt am Mainz, and the German Institute of Archaeology.
The tablet contains 13 verses from the 14th book of Homer’s 12,109-line epic poem.
The extract describes the return of Odysseus (known as Ulysses in Roman myths), king of Ithaca, to his home island after two decades of journeying.
“This discovery is a great archaeological, epigraphic, literary and historical exhibit,” experts from the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports said in a statement.
Organized into 24 books, the Odyssey is one of the two major ancient Greek epic poems (the other being the Iliad) attributed to Homer.
These poems lie at the beginning of the Western canon of literature, and have had an enormous influence on the history of literature.
Scientists believe the Odyssey was written around 675-725 BC, somewhere in Ionia, the Greek coastal region of Anatolia, and was intended for oral performance.
It was composed of 12,109 lines written in dactylic hexameter — that is, each line consisted of six feet, or metrical units, and each foot consisted of a dactyl.
The poem mainly focuses on Odysseus, who wanders for ten years (although the action of the poem covers only the final six weeks) trying to get home after the Trojan War.
On his return, Odysseus is recognized only by his faithful dog and a nurse. With the help of his son Telemachus, Odysseus destroys the insistent suitors of his wife Penelope and several of her maids who had fraternized with the suitors and reestablishes himself in his kingdom.
Source link: https://www.sci.news/archaeology/oldest-known-fragment-homers-odyssey-06202.html