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Where was Homer's "Ithaca"? There have been many suggestions as to where, exactly, the "Ithaca" of the Iliad and Odyssey of Homer was geographically located: as many, perhaps, as the theories which once fought among themselves over whether Troy ever really existed, and if so where it was. Theories on the location of "Homer's 'Ithaca'" were formulated as early as the 2d c. BC to as recently as AD 2003.

Each approach to identifying a location has been different, varying in degrees of scientific procedure, empirical investigation, informed hypothesis, wishful thinking, fervent belief, and sheer fantasy. Each investigator and each investigation merits interest, as an indicator both of the temper of the times in which a particular theory was developed, and of the perennial interest in Homer's Odyssey, and his character Odysseus, and the possible facts of the latter's life. The processes of theory-building and scientific inquiry change: interestingly, some of the latest "Homer's 'Ithaca'" approaches most resemble some of the earliest. But some other things -- such as interest in epics, and in their heroes -- remain the same, over time.

Leading Precursors

Theorists, on the location of "Homer's 'Ithaca'" --

  • Eratosthenes (276 BC – 194 BC)
  • Demetrius
  • Apollodorus (born ca. 180 BC)
  • Strabo (63/4 BC – ca. AD 24),
    • Jones, P.V. (1917-1932). Strabo : Geography, Loeb Classical Library, Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.

  • William Gell -- writing in 1807 -- he believed Homer's Ithaca was on the Aetos isthmus of Ithaki island, facing easy, in or near the bay of Vathy
    • (1807) The Geography and Antiquities of Ithaca, London: Longman, Hurst, Rees and Orme.

  • William M. Leake -- writing in 1835 -- he thought Ithaka was on the northwestern coast of Ithaki island, near Polis Bay
    • (1830) Travels in the Morea with a Map and Plans, Londdon: John Murray.
    • (1835) Travels in Northern Greece, London: John Murray.

  • Wilhelm Dörpfeld (December 26, 1853 – April 25, 1940) -- he thought Homer's "Ithaca" was in the Ionian islands but on Lefkas, just north of Paliki
    • Dörpfeld, Wilhelm (1965). Alt-Ithaka, ein Beitrag zur Homer-Frage. Studien und Ausgrabungen aus der insel Leukas-Ithaka. Unter Mitarbeit von Peter Goessler [u.a.], Neudruck der Ausg. 1927., Osnabrück: Zeller.

  • G. Volterras -- writing in 1903 -- he believed Paliki once may have had "Strabo's channel" at the isthmus which now separates Paliki and Kefalonia (see Bittlestone et al. below)
    • (1903) Kritiki Meleti peri Omerikis Ithakis (A Critical Study of Homeric Ithaca), Athens: [self?].

  • A.E.H. Goekoop -- writing in 1908 -- he believed Ithaca was in southwestern Kefalonia island, on the St. George hilltop near Mazarakata village, southeast of the city of Argostoli, with its harbor at Minies near the modern airport
    • (1908) Ithaque La Grande, Athens: Beck & Barth.

  • Lord Rennell of Rodd -- writing in 1927 -- believed Ithaca was on Ithaki island
    • Rennell, J.R. (1927). Homer's Ithaca : A Vindication of Tradition, London: Arnold.

  • W.A. Heurtley and Sylvia Benton -- believed Ithaca was on Ithaki island, and their excavations at the Polis Bay harbor turned up 8th-9th c. BC artifacts

  • C.H. Goekoop -- writing in 1990, grandson of A.E.H. Goekoop -- he thought Ithaca was on Kefalonia, but in the northern Erissos region, near the town of Fiscardo
    • (1990) Op zoek naar Ithaka, Weesp: Heureka.

  • E.S. Tsimaratos -- writing in 1998 -- he though Ithaca was in central Kefalonia, but he agreed with Strabo about Paliki's once having been cut off from Kefalonia
    • (1998) Poia I Omeriki Ithaki? (Which is Homeric Ithaca?), Athens: Etaireias Meletes Ellenikes Historias.

  • Gilles le Noan -- writing in 2001, 2003, 2004 -- he suggested a Paliki location for Ithaca, but discounted the geology supporting "Strabo's channel"
    • (2001) A la recherche d'Ithaque : essai sur la localisation de la patrie d'Ulysse, Quincey-sous-Senart: Editions Tremen.

  • Christos Tzakos -- writing 1999 - 2002
    • (1999) Concerning Homeric Ithaki: Asteris. Odusseia (95): –.
    • (2000) kefa-ll-ines Kefa-ll-inia Kefa-ll-onia. Odusseia (70-2): –.
    • (2002) Ekthesi Synoptiki peri Omerikis Ithakis (A Brief Essay on Homeric Ithaca), Angelos Eleutheros, Athens.

  • Robert Bittlestone, James Diggle & John Underhill -- first working in 2003 -- Paliki peninsula / island
    • (2005) Odysseus Unbound: The Search for Homer’s Ithaca, Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0521853575. [Odysseus Unbound website]

Paliki, Homer's Ithaca ( a recent theory about the Ithaca of Homer)

General References

  • Bittlestone, Diggle & Underhill (2005), cited above, Chapter 9.

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