In this post we examine Homer’s introduction to the ‘Catalogue of ships‘.
Iliad, Second Rhapsody, v. 484-493
Ἔσπετε νῦν μοι Μοῦσαι Ὀλύμπια δώματ᾽ ἔχουσαι—ὑμεῖς γὰρ θεαί ἐστε πάρεστέ τε ἴστέ τε πάντα, ἡμεῖς δὲ κλέος οἶον ἀκούομεν οὐδέ τι ἴδμεν—οἵ τινες ἡγεμόνες Δαναῶν καὶ κοίρανοι ἦσαν· πληθὺν δ᾽ οὐκ ἂν ἐγὼ μυθήσομαι οὐδ᾽ ὀνομήνω, οὐδ᾽ εἴ μοι δέκα μὲν γλῶσσαι, δέκα δὲ στόματ᾽ εἶεν, φωνὴ δ᾽ ἄρρηκτος, χάλκεον δέ μοι ἦτορ ἐνείη, εἰ μὴ Ὀλυμπιάδες Μοῦσαι Διὸς αἰγιόχοιο θυγατέρες μνησαίαθ᾽ ὅσοι ὑπὸ Ἴλιον ἦλθον· ἀρχοὺς αὖ νηῶν ἐρέω νῆάς τε προπάσας.
Tell me now, ye Muses that have dwellings on Olympus — for ye are goddesses and are at hand and know all things, whereas we hear but a rumour and know not anything — who were the captains of the Danaans and their lords. But the common folk I could not tell nor name, nay, not though ten tongues were mine and ten mouths and a voice unwearying, and though the heart within me were of bronze, did not the Muses of Olympus, daughters of Zeus that beareth the aegis, call to my mind all them that came beneath Ilios. Now will I tell the captains of the ships and the ships in their order.
(Source: HOMER, ILIAD)
NovoScriptorium: Our analysis is aided by the Liddell & Scott Lexicon.
A more analytical/accurate translation follows:
Tell me now, Muses, you who have Olympian dwellings-because you are godesses, you who are present and know everything, we only hear about the glory, and we know nothing-who were the rulers/sovereigns and archons/leaders of the Danaans. Their multitude I could never say nor name, even if ten tongues were mine (even if I had ten tongues), if there were ten mouths, and ἄρρηκτος* voice, even if there was a bronze heart in me, unless the Olympiad Muses** (or, ‘the Muses of Olympus’), the daughters of Deus (Zeus) who has the aegis, wanted to remind how many came to Ilion. For the archons/leaders of the ships I will tell and how many all of them (the ships) were.
* The word “ἄρρηκτος” is translated as “impossible to rupture”, or “unbreakable”, or “indissoluble”
** Homer writes about the ‘Muses of Olympus’, while Hesiod writes about the ‘Muses of Helicon’ as the source of his information.
Homer ‘asks’ the Muses to tell him how many and who campaigned against Ilion, along with many other information.
The Muses have ‘Olympian dwellings‘. Let us first examine what ‘Olympus‘ means/represents.
‘Olympus’ was considered as ‘the residency of the gods’. Not all the gods dwelled in ‘Olympus’; there were also the gods of the Underworld, dwelling there; there were gods of the Sea; and so on. Therefore, it must be realized that the Olympian gods are a separate category of the ancient Pantheon. Actually, Zeus, who was considered the Father ‘of Men and gods’ dwelled in ‘Olympus’, governing the World from there. The importance of ‘Olympus’ is more than obvious.
Sometimes ‘Olympus’ was identified with a specific mountain, even though there were many different mountains bearing the very same name during Antiquity. Many times we also find ‘Olympus’ as being identified with ‘the Sky‘. We have also found descriptions of ‘Olympus’ that have nothing to do with an actual mountain or the Sky; instead, an ‘idealized place‘ is described, where complete tranquillity and harmony exists-this was possibly a metaphor in order to emphasize on the complete difference of ‘Human things’ in comparison to ‘Divine things’.
The word itself has two basic etymologies:
a) from λάμπω ( = shine), and hence it would mean ‘the shining place’
b) from ὄλλυμι ( = decease), and hence it would mean ‘the place of the deceased’. We have shown in some of our previous analyses that the ‘gods’ of the Greeks had been Men of older times that were deified for their benefactions and glorious deeds; therefore, this interpretation would also make sense.
Therefore, the fact that the Muses ‘dwell in Olympus’ may receive two different, but also simultaneously valid interpetations:
a) the Muses are somehow connected with the Knowledge of the older times; we may call them ‘keepers of the ancient Knowledge‘. This certainly has a lot to do with very ancient History
b) the Knowledge that the Muses own and offer to selected people (among them, Homer and Hesiod, as they testify themselves) also included Sciences and Theology.
For the above to become more convincing, let us now add in the discussion that the Muses were considered as the daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne. But Μνημοσύνη ( = Mnemosyne) means ‘Memory‘ / ‘Remembrance‘. In other words, the daughters of Memory and the Divine Providence (i.e. Zeus) were given the name ‘Muses’.
The ancient Greeks used the name ‘Museum‘ to describe a place where Knowledge was preserved and studied. We have found several excerpts in Greek Literature which reveal that the various Museums also acted as ‘schools of Scientific Thought’.
We believe that the above are enough to support our opinion that when Homer asks the Muse(s) to tell him about something, what is encrypted is that the words which will follow come from such an ancient institution; a Museum.
In the above excerpt the Muses are described like this: “you are godesses, you who are present and know everything”. Well, only the Divine can be omnipresent and with complete knowledge of everything. And we are not talking about ‘gods’ now, but for the Actual/True Being of the ancient Greek Philosophers, i.e. the one God, the Creator of all and Life-giver. To whom they have attributed the code-name “Zeus/Deus” as we have shown in a previous post. Remember that the Muses were ‘daughters of Zeus’. What we are told here then, among other things, is that Knowledge is a divine thing. And that true Knowledge must be linked to the Divine. It is not at all coincidental that the majority of the ancient Greek Philosophers – especially the Pre-Socratic ones- dealt not only with Physics, Mathematics, History and Sociology, but also with Theology.
Homer informs us that “we only hear about the glory, and we know nothing” of the older stories. The verb ‘hear’ is crucial, in our opinion. It could denote that there has been an oral Tradition that preserved the ancient stories about Ilion and the Trojan War – most scholars agree on the existence of such an oral Tradition. The problem is that he also clearly refers to the Muses as the source of his narration. Anyhow, he declares complete ignorance of the past. This of course means that Homer certainly lived long after the Trojan War events. We emphasize on this because we have read various researches which claim that Homer was either a member of Odysseus’ family, or even Odysseus himself – something that Homer himself obviously cancels as an assumption.
And then we read something that provokes our thinking:
“Their multitude I could never say nor name, even if ten tongues were mine (even if I had ten tongues), if there were ten mouths, and ἄρρηκτος voice, even if there was a bronze heart in me”
“Ten mouths, ten tongues, with “impossible to rupture” / “unbreakable” / “indissoluble” voice, and a bronze heart in them” could be hardly enough to provide all the required information about the Danaans, Homer writes.
What short of thing -certainly not a Human being- could have ‘a bronze heart‘? There can be no Human voice with the ability to be strictly ἄρρηκτος: a Human being will always have fluctuations in its voice, i.e. it can never be 100% permanently ‘stable‘. The description would fit well though for a ‘robotic voice’, a voice that comes from a machine and it sounds the very same at any time; a voice that has no changes in its ripple and intensity. Homer apparently links this – whatever it was- with the ‘Muses’. The careful reader of Homer must have noticed the various amazing technologies attributed to the ‘gods’ and to ‘older humans’, too. For example, please read here and here.
Hence, we are led to speculate on the possibility that in the oldest Museums (Homer’s and Hesiod’s time) there could have existed machines of the kind described above. Of course, anyone who firmly supports the idea of a ‘linear History of Man’ will only laugh and deny even the slightest possibility that Men of old could have owned advanced technologies at some unknown past era. We understand how ‘extreme’ these findings may sound, but we cannot ignore them either.
It has been written by many academic researchers that Homer’s descriptions of various technological achievements was a pure product of his creative imagination. In our opinion, this opposes Logic; imagination is imposed to humans of all Time by their surrounding Social and Scientific environments. How reasonable is it for someone who lived 3,000 years ago to write about android-robots and robotic devices, flying machines, invisibility devices, automatic ships, and many other? Certainly, he never saw any of these technological achievements in his time. Neither the required Science for all these was available back then. We are not at all convinced about Homer’s supposed ‘imagination’. We rather tend to support the possibility that an older advanced civilization existed, who left a few traces behind after a (or a series of) Cataclysmic event(s). Which is exactly what the ancient Greeks wrote in their Mythology (e.g. Plato, Apollodorus)
The fact that Homer emphasizes that the Muses are daughters of Zeus “who has the aegis” is important. And we do not believe this to be ‘accidental’; on the contrary, we are firmly convinced that hardly anything in his writings is ‘accidental’ at all.
The Actual/True Being is not in need of anything; The Actual/True Being is completely autarkic. And certainly, It would never have a need for an aegis. But any Human being, and moreover a leader of old, could very well be in need of ‘something’ in general and certainly of an aegis, too.
Hence, in our opinion, what Homer wants to denote here is that in his writings, stories of the ‘epoch of the gods’ will be included. And this epoch (or epochs) we are informed by the ancient Greeks themselves that refer(s) to events before the Cataclysm of Ogygos, i.e. during the Latent (Άδηλος) (a)eon (Αιών). Remember that the ‘gods’ of the Greeks had been Men of very old times that were deified for their benefactions and glorious deeds.
Our personal study has confirmed that Homer records cultural elements and events from several different epochs of Greek History.
The information that the Muses were ‘daughters of Zeus’ may want to denote that the initial construction of the Museums begun ‘during the reign of Zeus’. Moreover, the special reference to the ‘aegis’ -which is a type of shield- here may imply that the construction of the Museums served as a ‘shield’ against ignorance and barbarosity that was about to prevail among Humans after a destructive Cataclysm. Or, simply, that Knowledge -in general- acts as a shield (against ignorance and barbarosity).
The fact that Homer refers to the ‘Muses of Olympus’ as his source, while Hesiod refers to the ‘Muses of Helicon’ as his, suggests, in our opinion, the existence of two different Museums, possible remnants of the older civilization(s).
Research-Analysis for NovoScriptorium: P.D.K.