Wednesday, December 19, 2012
If Aquinas had had to present the theory of Dörpfeld: Ulisses' Ithaca was Leucada
First of all - why such an exercise? Do Dörpfeld's and Walter Leaf's arguments become more holy by being presented in the format used by a saint? Of course not. St Thomas Aquinas is not canonised for using the format of Quaestiones and Articuli and he is not using it in all his works. He is not canonised despite using the format either. He is canonied because he used it to defend truth.
Now, the format of an articulus in a quaestio (or, if there are no other articuli in a quaestio: the format of a one articulus quaestio) is good because it is short and gives an overview of arguments for and against, and because it separates explanations of problems used as arguments against the arguments against the thesis from the other arguments that are directly for it. And the theory of Dörpfeld and of Walter Leaf is a good one. I am thus not wasting a good format on a bad matter just for the sake of exercising it.
Utrum Ulixis Ithaca eadem insula fuerit quam nunc appellamus Leucada?
Whether Ulisses' Ithaca was the same island which now we call Leucada?
To this we proceed as follows:
Primo... /in the first place tradition says that Ithaca was what we call Thiaki. Tradition is a good guide and place names are not usually transferred from one place to another.
Secondo... /in the second place Strabo and Livy both say that Leucada was not always an island, but that a channel separating Leucada from the main land was dug out in post-Homeric times. If Ithaca was a paeninsula, why does Homer call it an island?
Sed contra est... /but on the other hand a cowherd and a heifer and three goats are ferried across to the Ithaca of Ulisses, as Homer states in xx.185ff.
Respondeo esse dicendum... /I answer that one ought to say that an island can be defined in more than one way, so that one cannot say that it is impossible for something to both already be an island and to become one. If by island you mean you cannot from there get to the mainland or walking on your feet and keeping them dry, that is one thing, but if by island you mean you must be able to sail around it in a ship, that is another thing. Already in Ulisses time, however, Leucada as we call it now must have been separated by shallow waters from the main land, since these would not have been the result from the later channel, that allowed a ship to sail or row between it and the main land. And if shallow waters do not call for transport in ships, they easily provoke transport in very shallow ferries, indeed rafts serving as ferries. So when we see a cowherd arriving in a ferry (or transported by ferrymen - πoρθμηεc, and the singular porthmeus is translated portitor, both words, the Greek and the Latin, are used of Charon in Latin) with an heifer and three goats, we know this is possible for Leucada but unbelievable for Thiaki. There are some other reasons for believing that Ithaca was what we call Leucada. When Ulisses describes his realm, in ix.21-26 it consists of Ithaca, Same, Doulichion and Zakynthos, and no one has doubted that Zakynthos is rightly identified as Zante but this description says about "Ithaca" what is truer about Leucada than about Thiaki: it is furthest North-West πανυπερτατη, πρoc ζoφoν and it is in some sense "low" χθαμαλη where Modern Greek uses χαμηλα for "low in the sea" = close to land. And from xxi.344-7 we learn that other islands of the four are from it πρoc Hλιδoc. In at least two places the question of coming by foot (including a short trip on cattle ferry or even wading) arises precisely on Ithaca. We have Telemachus' words to Mentes in i.156 ff and as for Telemachus and Eumaeus Walter Leaf asks us to confer xuj.57-9 with xiu 185-190. And between Leucada and Thiaki, but closest to Leucada we have an Arkudhi, which has a small natural port, such as we know that Asteris, between Ithaca and Same but closest to Ithaca must have had: iu.844 ff.
Ad primum... /answering the first objection we see that the modern traditional names give us three islands rather than the four we need. Unless you take for Doulichion the one identified by Strabo as Doliche, now Makri. Walter Leaf concedes this is likely for the Doulichion of Meges, but not for the Doulichion in Ulisses' realm. Therefore we can see there is some trouble in the human tradition about Thiaki being Ithaca. The solution proposed is that Ithaca's population fled from invaders to Same, whis population was in turn transferred to part of Doulichion, where we now have Samos as one of its promontories. The whole of Doulichion then became Kephallenia. Victor Brérard says that a similar thing happened about Pylos. When it comes to Taphos (which Walter Leaf considers - arguing from its naval and military importance blocking Achaeans from the West - as having been Corfu) we know that Taphians fled south as well, and two places in the four islands concerned remind us that Ulisses' realm was part of where they fled to.
Ad secundum... /answering the second objection we conceed that Strabo tells us how Leucada became more of an island than it was, but not that it was no island at all or in any sense before that artificial channel. As said in corpore/in the body of the article. But if you want to argue that Homer described Ithaca as totally an island, you must show where a ship commanded by a kybernetes rather than a ferry manned by a porthmeus goes anywhere between Ithaca and Main Land.
If I were to make a quaestio of several articuli, I would of course use as other articuli problems like what Doulichia there are, one Doulichion or two Doulichia, alternatively "whether Ulisses or Meges ruled Doulichion" arguing they had one each, whether Taphos was Corfu, et c. But since Walter Leaf mainly has answered these questions in his book, and since I only wanted to give a taste of his arguments, precisely where they are constested, i e identifying Iθακα with Leucada and Thiaki with Cαμη, I now leave you the task to read Walter Leaf's Homer and History in entirety or in the chapter The Realm of Odysseus. Only adding that previous and following chapters to my mind, as already stated, include a misunderstanding of what the commanders in the ship catalogue were.
Bpi Georges Pompidou
Blessed Urban V, Pope