Oldest written record of the Odyssey is found on a 3rd Century tablet

Oldest written record of Homer’s Odyssey is found on a 3rd Century clay tablet unearthed near Greece’s ruined Temple of Zeus

  • Homer’s Odyssey is thought to be a seminal work in Western literature
  • Clay tablet is engraved with 13 verses from the Odyssey’s 14th Rhapsody
  • During the 13 verses, Odysseus addresses his lifelong friend Eumaeus
  • Scientists say the exact date of the tablet still needs to be confirmed
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Archaeologists may have discovered the oldest known extract of Homer’s epic poem ‘The Odyssey’.

Engraved with 13 verses, the ancient tablet has been unearthed in southern Greece in what is possibly the earliest-recorded trace of the poem, the culture ministry said.

The clay slab is believed to date back to the third century during the Roman era.

The extract of this seminal work, taken from book 14, describes the return of Ulysses to his home island of Ithaca. 


Archaeologists may have discovered the oldest known extract of Homer’s epic poem ‘The Odyssey’. Engraved with 13 verses, the ancient tablet has been unearthed in southern Greece in what is possibly the earliest-recorded trace of the poem, the culture ministry said

‘If this date is confirmed, the tablet could be the oldest written record of Homer’s work ever discovered’ in Greece, a ministry statement said.

The tablet was discovered after three years of surface excavations by the Greek Archaeological Services in cooperation with the German Institute of Archaeology.

It was found close to the remains of the Temple of Zeus at the cradle of the Olympic Games in western Peloponnese.

The plaque is ‘a great archaeological, epigraphic, literary and historical exhibit,’ the ministry said.

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First composed orally around the 8th century BC, the epic – which is attributed to ancient Greek author Homer – was later transcribed during the Christian era onto parchment of which only a few fragments have been discovered in Egypt.

It was probably handed down in oral tradition for hundreds of years before first being written down.  

The Odyssey is a Greek poem that tells of the return journey of Odysseus to the island of Ithaca after the war at Troy.

The war lasted ten years and Odysseus spent an additional ten years trying to get home in the face of difficulties from Poseidon, god of the earth and sea.

The section that has been found is part of The Odyssey’s 14th Rhapsody in which Odysseus talks to his friend Eumaeus.


The tablet was discovered after three years of surface excavations by the Greek Archaeological Services in cooperation with the German Institute of Archaeology

WHO WAS HOMER?

There is very little known about exactly who or what Homer was, but is believed by the ancient Greeks to have been the first great epic poet.

He is credited as being the first to write down The Illiad and The Odyssey.

It is believed he was born some time between the 12th and 8th centuries BC.

Some suggest that he compiled existing oral stories and then recited them from memory. He is seen more as a balladeer as opposed to a traditional poet.

Many believe Homer was blind and he is often interpreted with thick curly hair, a beard and sightless eyes.

Other works have been attributed to Homer over the centuries – particularly the Homeric Hymns – but only the two epic works are seen as definitely his.

A guild of singing story tellers, or rhapsodes, later emerged known as the Homeridae and has led some to argue that Homer was actually a mythical figure whose name was derived from the guild.

Some of the earliest written works attributed to Homer were found with the mummified remains of Green Egyptians from around 150-200 BC. 

Eumaeus is the first mortal that Odysseus meets after returning to Ithaca after the Trojan War.

The poem spans more than 12,000 lines and is believed to be one of the seminal works in Western literature.

There is very little known about exactly who or what Homer was, but is believed by the ancient Greeks to have been the first great epic poet.

It is believed he was born some time between the 12th and 8th centuries BC. 

Some of the earliest written works attributed to Homer were found with the mummified remains of Green Egyptians from around 150-200 BC.

 

 

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