Scheria

Scheria (/ˈskɛriə/; Ancient Greek: Σχερίη or Σχερία)—also known as Scherie or Phaeacia—was a region in Greek mythology, first mentioned in Homer's Odyssey as the home of the Phaeacians and the last destination of Odysseus in his 10-year journey before returning home to Ithaca.

From Ogygia to Scheria (Odysseus)

Before leaving Ogygia, Odysseus builds a raft and sails eastwards, instructed by Calypso to navigate using the stars as a celestial reference point.[1] On the eighteenth day appear the shadowy mountains of the land of the Phaeacians, that looked like a shield in the misty deep. But Poseidon spots his raft and seeking vengeance for his son Polyphemus who was blinded by Odysseus, produces a storm that torments Odysseus. After three days of struggle with the waves, he is finally washed up on Scheria.

Odysseus and Nausicaa
Pieter Lastman: Odysseus and Nausicaa (oil on panel, 1619; Alte Pinakothek, Munich)

Odysseus meets Nausicaa

Meanwhile, the goddess Athena, who sneaks into the palace, disguises herself as a sea-captain's daughter and instructs princess Nausicaa, the daughter of King Alcinous in her sleep to go to the seashore to wash her clothes. The next morning, Nausicaa and her maids go to the seashore, and, after washing the clothes, they start to play a game on the beach, with laughs, giggles and shouts. Odysseus, who was exhausted from his adventure and was sleeping nearby, is awakened by the shouts. He covers his nakedness with thick leaves and goes to ask for help from the team. Upon seeing the unkempt Odysseus in this state, the maids run away, but, Nausicaa, encouraged by Athena, stands her ground and talks to him. To excuse the maids, she admits that the Phaeacians are "the farthermost of men, and no other mortals are conversant with them",[2] so they run away since they have never seen a stranger before. Nausicaa, being hospitable, provides clothes, food and drink to Odysseus, and then directs him to the palace of King Alcinous.

The palace of King Alcinous

Following Nausicaa's orders, Odysseus sought to enter the palace of King Alcinous and plead for mercy from the queen, Arete, so he could make his way home. On his way to the palace, Odysseus meets Athena disguised as a local girl. In her disguised state, Athena advises him about how to enter the palace. Athena, knowledgeable that the Phaeacians were hostile towards men from the outlands, cloaked Odysseus in a mist that hid him from the Phaeacians' gaze.[3] Under Athena's protection, Odysseus passes through all of the protection systems of the palace and enters the chamber of King Alcinous. Odysseus throws his arms around the queen's legs and supplicates her. Naturally, Alcinous and his court are surprised to see a stranger walking into their secured palace. It was only after Echeneus, a Phaeacian elder, urged King Alcinous to welcome the stranger that they offered Odysseus hospitality

The front doors of the palace are flanked with two dogs made of silver and gold, constructed by Hephaestus. The walls of the palace are made of bronze that "shines like the sun" and is secured with gates made of gold. Within the walls, there is a magnificent garden with apple, pear, and pomegranate trees that grow year-round. The palace is even equipped with a lighting system comprising golden statues of young men bearing torches. After Odysseus tells Alcinous and his court the story of his adventures after the Trojan War, the Phaeacians take him to Ithaca on one of their ships.

Departure of Ulysses from the Land of the Pheacians
Claude Lorrain: Port Scene with the Departure of Odysseus from the Land of the Phaeacians (oil on canvas, 1646; Louvre, Paris)

The Phaeacian ships

The Phaeacians possessed remarkable ships. They were quite different from the penteconters, the ships used during the Trojan War, and they were steered by thought. King Alcinous says that Phaeacians carried Rhadamanthus to Euboea, "which is the furthest of any place" and came back on the same day.[4] He also explains to Odysseus what sort of information the Phaeacian ships require in order to take him home to Ithaca.[5]

Tell me also your country, nation, and city, that our ships may shape their purpose accordingly and take you there. For the Phaeacians have no pilots; their vessels have no rudders as those of other nations have, but the ships themselves understand what it is that we are thinking about and want; they know all the cities and countries in the whole world, and can traverse the sea just as well even when it is covered with mist and cloud, so that there is no danger of being wrecked or coming to any harm.

Homer describes the Phaeacian ships as fast as a falcon and gives a vivid description of the ship's departure.

The ship bounded forward on her way as a four in hand chariot flies over the course when the horses feel the whip. Her prow curvetted as it were the neck of a stallion, and a great wave of dark blue water seethed in her wake. She held steadily on her course, and even a falcon, swiftest of all birds, could not have kept pace with her.[6]

Geographical location of Scheria

Mouse Island, alias "The Fossilised ship of Phaeaces, Corfu, Krfu04
Pontikonisi, the purported petrified ship of the Phaeaces, close to Corfu

Many ancient and modern interpreters favour identification of Scheria with the island of Corfu, which is within 110 km (68 miles) of Ithaca. Thucydides, in his Peloponnesian War, identifies Scheria as Corfu or, with its ancient name, Corcyra. In I.25.4, he records the Corinthians' resentment of the Corcyraeans, who "could not repress a pride in the high naval position of an island whose nautical renown dated from the days of its old inhabitants, the Phaeacians." Locals on Corfu had long claimed this, based on the rock outside Corfu harbour, which is supposedly the ship that carried Odysseus back to Ithaca, but was turned to stone by Poseidon, to punish the Phaeacians for helping his enemy,

[…] with one blow from the flat of his hand turned her [the ship] into stone and rooted her to the sea bottom.[6]

The Phaeacians did not participate in the Trojan War. The Greek name Φαίακες is derived from phaiós (φαιός “gray”).[7] The Phaeacians in the Odyssey did not know Odysseus (although they knew of him, as evidenced by the tales of Demodocus), so they called him a "stranger". Odysseus however was the king of the majority of the Ionian Islands,[8] not only of Ithaca, but also "of Cephallenia, Neritum, Crocylea, Aegilips, Same and Zacynthus"[9] so if Scheria was Corfu, it would be surprising that the citizens of one of the Ionian Islands did not know Odysseus. Furthermore, when Odysseus reveals his identity, he says to the nobles: "[…] if I outlive this time of sorrow, I may be counted as your friend, though I live so far away from all of you"[10] indicating that Scheria was far away from Ithaca.

Many characteristics of the Phaeacians, including their seafaring and relaxed lifestyle are suggestive of Minoan Crete. Aside from the seafaring prowess, the palace walls that shone like the Sun are read to be covered not by bronze but orichalcum. The latter similarities make Scheria also suggestive of Plato's account of Atlantis. Helena Blavatsky proposed in her Secret Doctrine (1888) that it was Homer before Plato who first wrote of Atlantis.[11] From the ancient times, some scholars having examined the work and the geography of Homer have suggested that Scheria was located in the Atlantic Ocean. Among them were Strabo and Plutarch.

Geographical account by Strabo

Approximately eight centuries after Homer, the geographer Strabo criticized Polybius on the geography of the Odyssey. Strabo proposed that Scheria and Ogygia were located in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.

At another instance he [Polybius] suppresses statements. For Homer says also "Now after the ship had left the river-stream of Oceanus"[12] and "In the island of Ogygia, where is the navel of the sea,"[13] where the daughter of Atlas lives; and again, regarding the Phaeacians, "Far apart we live in the wash of the waves, the farthermost of men, and no other mortals are conversant with us."[2] All these [incidents] clearly suggest that he [Homer] composed them to take place in the Atlantic Ocean.[14]

Notes

  1. ^ Homer, Odyssey, 5, 270
  2. ^ a b Homer, Odyssey, 6.204
  3. ^ Lattimore, Richard (1967). Homer's The Odyssey, Book 6, Line 160. New York, NY: Harper & Row Publishers, Inc. p. 112. ISBN 0-06-093195-7.
  4. ^ Homer, Odyssey, 7.320
  5. ^ Homer, Odyssey, Book VIII 555–563
  6. ^ a b Odyssey, Book XIII 84–88
  7. ^ Entry φαιός in Liddell & Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon.
  8. ^ Map of Ionian Islands
  9. ^ Iliad, II.
  10. ^ Odyssey, IX, 17.
  11. ^ "It was not he [Plato] who invented it [the story of Atlantis], since Homer, who preceded him by many centuries, also speaks of the Atlantes and of their island in his Odyssey." Secret Doctrine, vol 2, pt. 3, ch. 6.
  12. ^ Odyssey, XII, 1.
  13. ^ Odyssey, I, 50.
  14. ^ Strabo, 1.2.18. The original text of this passage by Strabo is “ταῦτα γὰρ πάντα φανερῶς ἐν τῷ Ἀτλαντικῷ πελάγει πλαττόμενα δηλοῦται.

External links

Alcinous

In Greek mythology, Alcinous (; Ancient Greek: Ἀλκίνους or Ἀλκίνοος Alkínoös means "mighty mind") was a son of Nausithous and brother of Rhexenor. After the latter's death, he married his brother's daughter Arete who bore him Nausicaa, Halius, Clytoneus and Laodamas. In some accounts, Alcinous' father was Phaeax, son of Poseidon and Corcyra, and brother of Locrus.

Allocotocera

Allocotocera is a genus of flies in the family of Mycetophilidae. Two of the species are found in Europe.

Arete (mythology)

In Greek mythology, Queen Arete (; Ancient Greek: Ἀρήτη, Arētē "virtue") of Scheria, was the wife of Alcinous and mother of Nausicaa and Laodamas.

Citara

Citara is a beach located in Forio d'Ischia, in the Ischia island of Italy, near Punta Imperatore and the village of Panza. Its name comes from Romans who consecrated the site to Venus Citarea, whose statue made of white marble was found in the area. An old legend has it that the rocks, which can be seen from the beach, were in origin sailors transformed into stones as a punishment for passing through. The reference is from Odysseus, in which it is told that “Feaci” (the people living at “Scheria”, a place in the Tyrrhenian area which has been identified with Ischia) provided Ulysses with a boat to get home, so the goddess Venus punished them for helping him. On Citara Beach the Poseidon Thermal Garden is provided with a series of sea and thermal water swimming pools. It is known for its sun catching position and limpid sea. Spring water gushes into the sea.

Classical albedo features on Mars

The classical albedo features of Mars are the light and dark features that can be seen on the planet Mars through an Earth-based telescope. Before the age of space probes, several astronomers created maps of Mars on which they gave names to the features they could see. The most popular system of nomenclature was devised by Giovanni Schiaparelli, who used names from classical antiquity. Today, the improved understanding of Mars enabled by space probes has rendered many of the classical names obsolete for the purposes of cartography; however, some of the old names are still used to describe geographical features on the planet.

Cornucopia

In classical antiquity, the cornucopia (from Latin cornu copiae), also called the horn of plenty, was a symbol of abundance and nourishment, commonly a large horn-shaped container overflowing with produce, flowers or nuts.

Dragon's teeth (mythology)

In Greek myth, dragon's teeth feature prominently in the legends of the Phoenician prince Cadmus and in Jason's quest for the Golden Fleece. In each case, the dragons are real and breathe fire. Their teeth, once planted, would grow into fully armed warriors.

Cadmus, the bringer of literacy and civilization, killed the sacred dragon that guarded the spring of Ares. The goddess Athena told him to sow the teeth, from which sprang a group of ferocious warriors called the spartoi. He threw a precious jewel into the midst of the warriors, who turned on each other in an attempt to seize the stone for themselves. The five survivors joined with Cadmus to found the city of Thebes.The classical legends of Cadmus and Jason have given rise to the phrase "to sow dragon's teeth." This is used as a metaphor to refer to doing something that has the effect of fomenting disputes.

Geography of the Odyssey

Events in the main sequence of the Odyssey (excluding the narrative of Odysseus's adventures) take place in the Peloponnese and in what are now called the Ionian Islands (Ithaca and its neighbours). Incidental mentions of Troy and its house, Phoenicia, Egypt, and Crete hint at geographical knowledge equal to, or perhaps slightly more extensive than that of the Iliad. However, scholars both ancient and modern are divided as to whether or not any of the places visited by Odysseus (after Ismaros and before his return to Ithaca) were real.

The geographer Strabo and many others came down squarely on the skeptical side: he reported what the great geographer Eratosthenes had said in the late third century BCE: "You will find the scene of Odysseus's wanderings when you find the cobbler who sewed up the bag of winds."

Ino (Greek mythology)

In Greek mythology Ino (; Ancient Greek: Ἰνώ, Ancient: [iːnɔ̌ː]) was a mortal queen of Boeotia, who after her death and transfiguration was worshiped as a goddess under her epithet Leucothea, the "white goddess." Alcman called her "Queen of the Sea" (θαλασσομέδουσα), which, if not hyperbole, would make her a doublet of Amphitrite.

List of ancient Greek tribes

The ancient Greek tribes (Ancient Greek: Ἑλλήνων ἔθνη) were groups of Greek-speaking populations living in Greece, Cyprus, and the various Greek colonies. They were primarily divided by geographic, dialectal, political, and cultural criteria, as well as distinct traditions in mythology and religion. Some groups were of mixed origin, forming a syncretic culture through absorption and assimilation of previous and neighboring populations into the Greek language and customs. Greek word for tribe was Phylē (sing.) and Phylai (pl.), the tribe was further subdivided in Demes (sing. Demos, pl. Demoi) roughly matching to a clan.

With the dominion of land passing on from one tribe to the other, cultural exchange through art and trade, and frequent alliances toward common goals, the ethnic character of the different tribes had become primarily political by the dawn of the Hellenistic period. The Roman conquest of Greece, the subsequent division of the Roman Empire into Greek East and Latin West, as well as the advent of Christianity, molded the common ethnic and political Greek identity once and for all to the subjects of the Greek world by the 3rd century AD.

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Melite (naiad)

In Greek mythology, Melite (; Ancient Greek: Μελίτη) was one of the Naiads, daughter of the river god Aegaeus, and one of the many loves of Zeus and his son Heracles. Given the choice, she chose Heracles over Zeus who went off in search of other pursuits. She gave birth to Hercules's son Hyllus; some suggest that he was a figure distinct from Hyllus, the son of Heracles by Deianeira.

Nausicaa

Nausicaa (; Ancient Greek: Ναυσικάα or Ναυσικᾶ, pronounced [na͜ʊsikâa]; also Nausicaä, Nausikaa) is a character in Homer's Odyssey. She is the daughter of King Alcinous (Αλκίνοος, Alkínoös) and Queen Arete of Phaeacia. Her name, in Greek, means "burner of ships" (ναῦς: ship; κάω: to burn).

Nausithous

The name Nausithous (; Ancient Greek: Ναυσίθοος Nausíthoos) is shared by the following characters in Greek mythology:

Nausithous, the king of the Phaeacians in the generation before Odysseus washed ashore on their home island of Scherie. He was the son of the god Poseidon and Periboia, the daughter of the Giant king Eurymedon. According to Homer, Nausithous led a migration of Phaeacians from Hypereia to the island of Scheria in order to escape the lawless Cyclopes. He is the father of Alcinous and Rhexenor. Alcinous would go on to marry his niece, Rhexenor's daughter Arete. One source relates that Heracles came to Nausithous to get cleansed after the murder of his children; during his stay in the land of the Phaeacians, the hero fell in love with the nymph Melite and conceived a son Hyllus with her.

Nausithous, one of the two sons born to Odysseus by Calypso, the other one being Nausinous. According to Hyginus, Nausithous was a son of Odysseus and Circe; his brother was Telegonus.

Necklace of Harmonia

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Odysseus (crater)

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Potamoi

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Thyrsus

A thyrsus or thyrsos (Ancient Greek: θύρσος) was a wand or staff of giant fennel (Ferula communis) covered with ivy vines and leaves, sometimes wound with taeniae and topped with a pine cone or by a bunch of vine-leaves and grapes or ivy-leaves and berries.

Characters in the Odyssey
House of Odysseus
Monarchs and royals
Gods
Others
Suitors

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