Stillman, W.J. On the Track of Ulysses (1888)

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This book originated as articles in which Stillman describes his travel in the Ionian Sea, tracing the geography that he believes Homer know by autopsy. Stillman considers the Odyssey “not only the first history of travel, but the first geography, as it is doubtless a compendium of the knowledge of the earth’s surface at the day when it was composed.” The journey of Odysseus is localized on a map of the Mediterranean at the beginning of the book, but Stillman considers it mostly fairy tale, though he takes note of some ancient and standard localizations and hesitantly accepts a few as possible. His main concern is what Homer saw, and at the end Stillman concludes, “Homer does not seem to have any mental vision of the lands and islands of which Ulysses only speaks in his story—the lands of the Cimmerians, of the Laestrygonians, the Cyclops, the Lotophagi, the homes of Circe and Calpyso, are only heard of.” Stillman proposes that the Odyssey was not written ca. 850 BC (the date common in scholarship of his time), but before 1000 BC. Though academically based, the account records the personal experience of travel (by means of hired guides and crew, often portrayed as incompetent) in the course of one summer. A third chapter is on “The So-called Venus ”