Ancient Greek Literature
Odysseus' Ithaca - The Case of the Thirteen Tripods
We like to feel the Odyssey is based on historical truth, or I do, at least. Heinrich Schliemann believed that he had located Troy, and the ancient cities of Mycenae and Pylos have been excavated. There is no real evidence to prove that these archaeological remains were those which once housed Agamemnon or Nestor. Concerning Troy, in a future newsletter I will discuss the Hittite texts which mention 'sea peoples' and a city named Wilusa.
But what have archaeologists discovered on the Ionian island of Ithaka?
First, let's look again at the Odyssey.
During Odysseus' time as a guest of King Alkinoos, Athene has stirred up the leaders on Phaeacia to join the king in the palace in order to find out about the mysterious visitor. In Odyssey 9, Alkinoos suggests that he and the Phaeacian leaders provide gifts to Odysseus. He says, "... let us give him a gift of friendship, as is becoming. For here are twelve who are marked out as kings in our country with power, and they act as leaders, and I myself am the thirteenth." (Od. 9.389-91).
Remember that. There are 13 kings.
Later, after Odysseus has told the story of his wanderings, preparations are made to convey him home from Phaeacia to Ithaka. Mention is made again about the gifts, which are a most important element of xenia. Alkinoos says, "Come, let us man by man each one of us give a great tripod and a cauldron" (Od. 13.13-14).