Friday, 22 April 2011

₪ Odysseus' Lisbon and the Lotus Eaters

Warning: This article might contain strong, coarse, and foul language among other profanities and politically incorrect remarks. 
If you are easily offended, you should drink some vinegar and bite your thumb better click away on the Bright Side of the Internet.

"Ulysses Deriding Polyphemus"
J. M. W. Turner
One of the most amazing things that I was always impressed by; is the phenomenal capabilities of the human brain. I always believed that what we understand as intelligence, is a result of our initial potential and how much we train our mind, how far we press its limits to receive more information and process it.
The question is what do we remember or not, and why?

   It was on a Christmas party from work, where some colleagues of mine initiated a conversation game of telling what do we remember for all our lives. A friend answered that he could write down the lyrics of John Lennon's "Imagine", and another colleague could draw his country's borders out of memory. When asked, I hesitated to answer as I was afraid I wouldn't be taken seriously, or even worse; become the subject of mockery, but eventually said it; The Odyssey. Everybody smiled and laughed until they realised I was serious.
I did remember almost all twelve thousand lines in one of the biggest epics
in mankind.

   The reason behind this ability is that the poem is written in dactylic hexameter rhythmic scheme, which allows the reader to memorise it all as long as he follows the rhythm and has a start point.
We should not forget that both Iliad and Odyssey were not actually written, but survived for centuries through singing until Pisistratus of Athens ordered Odyssey's documentation. Should I wonder what was the motive for me as a child to be interested enough on memorising this masterpiece, I know very well that the answer is Odysseus himself.
The Greek mythology and history have always had tenths of heroes that always represented the ideal man, a man that is brave, and courageous, a hero that goes on legendary missions, a man that fights and dies in battle for his country. For me, the most interesting one had always been Ithaca's king Odysseus, a man that was exalted for his mental abilities. His story and character have always been enigmatic to most, as it actually took him ten whole years just to cross the Aegean Sea, something that would last about ten days for all the rest. Question is, where was he for ten years?

"Circe Offering the Cup to Ulysses"
John William Waterhouse
   Thanks to Homer (yes, that schizo again) we have thorough descriptions about locations, peoples and customs, that according to what we know today historically and geographically, we would be left with the mouth open wondering what the bloody hell is going on. We know that the nymph Calypso was of much darker skin, and that her island Ogygia was also called Phaeacia (which means "dark land" in Greek) and that it was associated with its people, the Phaeacians, (literally means "dark people") that resided on a big island on the far side of the world that was called Hyperia. Upon Odysseus' dramatic escape, he was tipped to keep the Ursa Major constellation on his left.

   "...and the Great Arctus (Ursa Major) that they also call Amaxa, that turns and looks the Orion, that only she is non-participant in the showers of the Ocean, the star is always shown, it never goes below the horizon" E273

  To make things more interesting, we yet haven't found any of the geological descriptions of Homer in Africa or Europe, so where did he go? Should we take every detail into consideration, we could assume that Odysseus got really far away from home outside the Mediterranean Sea. Now, the Atlantic is a very interesting ocean, as it has a very specific current that is going on in circulation just out of the Pillars of Hercules in Gibraltar's Strait and splits into other currents. One goes all the way up north to Iceland, and the other one is the Canary current that takes you to the not so new world. That's right, someone could just sit there on a small boat, and would eventually hit mid-Americas. How realistic is this scenario? Well, some psychos that were completely out of their fucking mind, decided they would like to die trying it, and them lucky bastards actually survived. It can be done.

   Odysseus saw that he had enough sex, drugs and rock n' roll with all those women for the last twenty years and suddenly remembered that he was actually married, and sought to get back to his beloved family. Now he knew the trick; get on the boat, have some good wine for the road and just chill and wait until the raft gets him back to Europe like a boss. From there he would find a way back home, worst case scenario he'd have to sleep with a couple more princesses, and get to his wife's hug.
Eventually, he saw land and everything looked like he was close. The amazing sea coasts, the warm temperature, the rich sunshine, the sad weird melancholic music, the Mediterranean food and the divine wine, indicated he was back. Most confirmative of all; all women had mustaches and the country was almost bankrupt; this was definitely Greece Portugal.

"Slaughter of the Suitors"
Christophe Thomas Degeorge
Odysseus hadn't just landed in the future capital of Portugal, but actually founded it. The location, with the sheltered harbour in the mouth of Tagus River, was an ideal spot for a settlement and provided a secure port for the establishment of a commerce colony. The Spaniard Gracián on his El Criticon names Lisbon first amongst all other cities being rich, noble, healthy and plentiful because of Ulysses the Cunning, and Isidore of Seville also states in his Etymologias,  that he was the founder of the city according to tradition. We can find additional material in Polyhistor, by Solinus, in Strabo's Geographica, and in Ora Maritima by Avenius, where we can also read about the transition to Ophiussa (snake city) and its mythical serpent people, the Safes who we can definitely confirm on Mourinho's genealogical tree. Sorry Jose, I couldn't resist.

   Lisbon would eventually become a maritime superpower during the golden age of sea trade and discoveries, a city of great sea explorers, and a jewel in the crown of Portugal that all Portuguese people are proud of. Oporto residents in particular.


Odysseus ≡ Ulysseus

a.4 Ulisses ‣ Portuguese ∴
a.3 Ulyssēs / Ulixē‣ Latin ∵
a.2 Odysseus ‣ Hellenic Euboean ∵
a.1 ≝ Ὀδυσσεύς  ΟΔΥΣΣΕΥΣ ‣ Hellenic Koine

 Tip: The reason for the ‣ L alternation, is because of the so-called "Sabine L" influence on the Latin language by the Sabines; a tribe located just a few kilometers northeast of Rome, across the merging of the rivers Tiber and Aniene.

Gravura da cidade de Lisboa cerca de 1572
Georg Braun & Franz Hogenberg


b.6 Lisboa ‣ Portuguese ∴
b.5 Lisbona ‣ Mid. Portuguese ∵
b.4 Lysabona ‣ Prot. Portuguese ∵
b.3 Olyssabona ‣ Latin ∵
b.2 Olyssavóna ‣ Hellenic Euboean ∵
b.1 ≝  Ολυσσαβόνα  ΟΛΥΣΣΑΒΟΝΑ  ‣ Hellenic Koine  

 Tip: The Greek letter B /ˈViːtə/ is always used and pronounced as B /ˈBiː/ when transliterated in Latin. 
For example; the Greek Βακτήρια ≡ ΒΑΚΤΗΡΙΑ /Vakˈtɪriə/ becomes Bacteria /Bækˈtɪəriə/ in Latin.

"Battle of Salamis and the God King Xerxes"
Wilhelm von Kaulbach

Extra Tip 

☛  Many people wonder why we pronounce the letter X /ex/ˈɛks/ differently. The pronunciation of an X depends on whether or not the syllable is stressed. If the syllable is not toned, then we have the sound /ˈɛks/, for example; Éxercise /ˈɛk.sə.saɪz/If the syllable is stressed, then we have the sound /ɛɡz/, for example; Exámple /ɛɡzɑːmpəl/. 
In the second case of  /ɡz/ pronunciation, the French language eventually dropped the stronger /ɡz/ for a more light /z/, that was sequentially loaned to the Iberian and British languages. This is the reason behind pronouncing words with a /z/ when we use an /x/ to write them. 
Most classic examples are the terms Xerox and Xerxes that are pronounced as /ˈzɪərɒks/ and /ˈzɜːrksiːz/ respectively.