The Sun of Homer

Part of : Mediterranean archaeology & archaeometry : international journal ; Vol.16, No.4, 2016, pages 179-182

The purpose of this paper is to outline a clear view of the Iliad and Odyssey data about the Sun, that could lead us beyond purely literary comments. The excursus identifies and analyzes those poems passages that may shed light on the Homeric world 'pre-scientific' knowledge about the Sun. We'll start from the Sun mentioned in the Achilles' Shield, the first description of the cosmos in Western literature. We will talk about his position in space, where it is mentioned after Earth, sea and sky, but immediately before the other stars and constellations. We will identify an important similarity in that order with the cuneiform texts from the ancient Near East. We will draw considerations on the nature of the Sun, through the epithets that accompany it and through the similarities in the Homeric text. We will emphasize the implications of the epithet ἀκάμας, “tireless”, and other expressions. We will talk about the description of his movements from dawn to the zenith and until dusk, and its use for orientation: there are formulas in the Homeric text, which employ the sun to indicate the East and the West. The Sun is also used in Homer to describe temporal transitions. We will focus on the relationship between Sun and Ocean, and we will see that the ocean can be understood as a deliberate metaphor of the horizon. We will also discuss about the Sun as ancestral force hierarchically inferior to the Olympians gods and about some of its anthropomorphic features: he sees and hears everything. Constantly monitors the facts about the gods and men, and as well as vision and hearing has even speech. He is also able to generate. We'll see how these qualities highlight the role of the Sun as the guarantor of the cosmic order.
Subject (LC):
sun, Iliad, Odyssey, shield, order, orientation, time, ocean
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