Cosmological motifs and themes in the Odyssey of Homer, with some antecedents in Minoan and Mycenaean iconography

Hammond, Rosemary Margaret (2007). Cosmological motifs and themes in the Odyssey of Homer, with some antecedents in Minoan and Mycenaean iconography. PhD thesis The Open University.



It is argued that the symbolism of Homer’s Odyssey, preserves and perpetuates an inter-textual layer of metaphoric reference from which it is possible to reconstruct some of the religious and political ideology of the late Bronze Age Aegean. The epic literature, to some extent a guardian to the oral history of Minoan Crete and the Mycenaean sphere of influence, has been ‘decoded’ and placed in context by the use of stabilising comparanda,. These are drawn from a universal myth, supplemented by Near Eastern ritual and belief. The ancient, worldwide imagery of the axis mundi and omphalos,, ‘navel of the earth’, has provided an essential common denominator for the measurement and assessment of the epic discourse as well as surviving art and architecture.
The resultant evidence reveals that the poet held to cosmological and cosmogonic beliefs that envisaged a single creative source manifesting itself to man in the patterns of nature, including those of man’s own form and intelligence. That source, the Absolute, holds heaven and earth in a linear bond which replicates into duality, then expands beyond into multiple forms. This vertical link is expressed most traditionally by a cosmic tree, pillar, mountain, staff or sceptre, and the earth’s receptive point, the omphalos, appears as a stone, a cave, a throne or a bed. The ‘navel point, centre of the world’, is man’s gateway to immortality. This important concept of a divine ‘Centre’ marking the point of access to the axial power provides not only considerable thematic material of Aegean architectural, glyptic and fresco design in the late second millennium BC, but also determines the course of Odysseus’ Adventures, which are analysed anew in this study as stages in a spiritual journey along a solar course of departure and return, to and from that same transformative centre.

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