We are taking a quick break from the regular series after our look at the development of Corinth to present an interview I recently did with Prof. James Diggle from the Odysseus unbound foundation.
In the series we have look at some elements within Greek history that have connections to traditional tales and mythology. Some big examples of these were when we looked at the Trojan War, Mycenae and the Minoans. Well once again we are looking at historical connections to what can be found within the ancient writings of Homer, this time with a focus on the Odyssey. This episode will be focused around the idea of locating the island of Ithaca that Homer describes within the Odyssey. For a long time, controversy has surrounded the actual location of Homers Ithaca, with many since ancient times questioning whether the Island we know today as Ithaki was actually the Ithaca of the Odyssey.
In our modern time, one such man also questioned this idea. Robert Bittlestone with a Classics, Science and economics background, would return from the business world to his love of Classics to delve into the mystery around the home island of Odysseus. Robert would develop a working theory that would be eventually presented to an audience at Cambridge University. This is where Prof. James Diggle would become involved, seeing great merit in what Robert presented. Prof. Diggle would go on to contribute to Robert Bittlestone’s book, Odysseus Unbound. The search for Homer’s Ithaca. Unfortunately, Robert would pass away in 2015, however his legacy and work would continue on with the creation of the Odysseus Unbound foundation, with a number of professionals and academics making up its members, including Roberts son’s Simon and Mathew.
The Odysseus unbound Foundation is an educational charity dedicated to advancing knowledge of the ancient world. Specifically, we conduct and promote scientific and historical research to discover the actual locations of historical sites that have been described in ancient literature such as Homer’s Odyssey.
They are committed to publishing widely all their results so our understanding of the ancient world and the origins of our civilization today is enhanced to everyone’s benefit.
The Foundation was formed in 2017. It is built upon the inspiration of the late Robert Bittlestone whose ground-breaking ideas about the location of Ithaca, the homeland of Odysseus described by Homer in the Odyssey, are showing significant promise.
Prof. James Diggle, Trustee of the Odysseus Unbound foundation is Emeritus Professor of Greek and Latin at Cambridge University and a Life Fellow of Queens’ College.
His publications include The Cambridge Greek Lexicon (Editor-in-Chief, Cambridge, 2021), The Oxford Classical Text of Euripides (Oxford, 1981-94), Euripidea: Collected Essays (Oxford, 1994) and Theophrastus: Characters (Cambridge, 2004).
He was University Orator at Cambridge for eleven years and has published a selection of his speeches in Cambridge Orations (Cambridge, 1994). He is a Fellow of the British Academy and a Corresponding Member of the Academy of Athens.
He was awarded his CBE in the 2022 New Year Honours for services to classical scholarship.
In this interview this with Prof. James Diggle, he gives us an insight into the origins of the Odysseus Unbound foundation before we then cover the aspects around the mystery of locating Homers Ithaca. Prof. Diggle then guides us through the theory that was proposed by Robert Bittlestone and that has continued to guide the foundation with their continued research. While Prof. Diggle then takes us through the evidence that has been accumulated that helps support the theory. Anyway I hope you find this interview as interesting as I did.