Scientists have pinned down the return that Greek hero Odysseus to April 16, 1178 B.C., close come noon regional time.

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In an 1888 engraving, Odysseus is presented slaying the suitors the his wife, Penelope, top top his go back to Ithaca. References to an old solar eclipse in Homer's Odyssey allude to April 16, 1178 B.C., as the day of Odysseus' return. Gustav Schwab via FromOldBooks.org
In the epos "Odyssey," one of the cornerstones of western literature, the legend Greek hero Odysseus returns to his queen Penelope after ~ enduring 10 years of sailing the alcohol dark sea.

Now scientists have actually pinned under his return to April 16, 1178 B.C., close to noon local time, follow to astronomical references in the epic city that seem to pinpoint the full eclipse of the sun on the day that Odysseus supposedly changed on.


The "Odyssey" is a millennia-old epic claimed to be written by the blind poet Homer. In contemporary times, the "Odyssey" is generally seen together fiction. Still, Homer"s earlier epic, the "Iliad," was focused on the war against Troy, and scientists very first uncovered physical proof of trojan in the 19th century. This has actually long raised questions regarding what other historic facts the epics can refer to.

In the "Odyssey," after the decade-long Trojan War, King Odysseus of the island Ithaca contends v monsters and witches after that draws the wrath the the sea god Poseidon. ~ he finally returns home, Odysseus slays much more than 100 unruly suitors all of whom wish to marry Penelope.

Blood redThe possible solar eclipse come up in the 20th publication of the "Odyssey," as the suitors begin their final lunch. At this point, the goddess of war Athena "confounds your minds," do the suitors laugh uncontrollably and see your food spattered v blood. The seer Theoclymenus then foresees the death of the suitors, finishing by saying, "The sun has actually been obliterated from the sky, and also an unlucky darkness invades the world."

The Greek historian Plutarch argued the prophecy the Theoclymenus referred to a solar eclipse.


More recently, astronomers Carl Schoch and Paul Neugebauer computed in the 1920s that a complete solar eclipse arisen over the Ionian islands — of i beg your pardon Ithaca is one — about noon ~ above April 16, 1178 B.C., and would have coincided approximately a decade before the most frequently cited estimate for the bag of troy — around 1190 B.C.

Still, a great deal the skepticism continues to be over whether Theoclymenus refers to this or any kind of eclipse. To shed light ~ above the issue, researchers Marcelo Magnasco and also Constantino Baikouzis at Rockefeller college in new York chose to analyze various other passages in the "Odyssey" for huge references without assuming an eclipse.


The scientists very first created a rough chronology the events portrayed in the "Odyssey." First, 29 days before the an alleged eclipse and the massacre the the suitors, three constellations are mentioned as Odysseus sets the end from the island of Ogygia, whereby he has spent 7 years together a captive of the beautiful nymph Calypso. Odysseus is said to watch the Pleiades and also late-setting Boötes and also keep the good Bear come his left. Next, five days prior to the an alleged eclipse, Odysseus come in Ithaca together the Star of Dawn — the is, Venus — rises front of the sun.

Finally, the night before the eclipse, over there is a new moon.


Also, the messenger that the gods, Hermes, is sent west to Ogygia by the king the the god Zeus to release Odysseus and then instantly returns ago east roughly 34 days prior to the eclipse. The researchers conjecture this expedition refers come an apparent turning point that the movement of the world Mercury. (Mercury was the roman inn name for Hermes.)

Backward planetMercury completes that orbit around the sun in just around 88 days, contrasted with the year that takes earth to do so. This method that Mercury and Earth room somewhat favor two cars moving along separate lanes the a racetrack at different speeds. The result of these movements is that Mercury occasionally shows up to walk backward or retrograde in the skies from our allude of view, Magnasco explained. This wake up for about three weeks in ~ a time, about three times a year.

The scientists then looked for potential days that satisfied all these astronomical references close to the fall of Troy, which has over the centuries been estimated to have occurred between around 1250 to 1115 B.C. From this 135 years, they found just one date satisfied every the referrals — April 16, 1178 B.C., the same date as the propose eclipse.

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"That"s just one day the end of about 50,000 days," Magnasco told LiveScience. "If ours findings space correct, it would certainly be nice spectacularly strange. How could Homer have known about this eclipse, around planetary positions that taken place some 100 years before him? If this is all true, the would change the schedule of what we think they knew about astronomy then." Homer, if he yes, really existed, is claimed to have actually composed the "Odyssey" sometime close to the finish of the nine century B.C.


Magnasco and also Baikouzis thorough their findings online June 23 in the journal Proceedings that the nationwide Academy of Sciences.