Sunday, 13 October 2013

The Spring of Arethusa,the Raven’s Crag or Crow’s Crag, and the ‘the furthest point’ in Homeric Ithaca

 (excerpt from the book: Homeric Ithaca, H. Putman Cramer / G. Metaxas)
           The spring called  "potistis" (named from the verb ποτίζω, anc.Gk = ἀρέθω,[=Arethusa]
 meaning ‘irrigate’ or ‘water’), in the area Stou Lani ton Kambo of Gradou
 below of the  Raven’s Crag (Kορακόπετρα) at Anninata village.

The Homeric place-name Κόρακος πέτρη (Raven’s Crag or Crow’s Crag)[i], was  near the southernmost point of Homeric Ithaka. According to Homer,[ii] it was there that Eumaios the swineherd kept his pigs, which he watered at the Spring of Arethusa (so named from the verb ρέθω, meaning ‘irrigate’ or ‘water’).
These two above mentioned locations are described in Homer's tale as laying in the southernmost area of Ithaca. Odysseas hiked - following goddess Athena's instuctions- to this area when he left the Cave of the
Nymphs (Od. ξ 1-7).  He departed in the morning and arrived in the afternoon. This means that the distance between the Cave of the Nymphs and the Ravens Crag was quite long as we also can conclude from Homer's description. Telemachos was guided by goddess Athena to this same area after returning from Pylos (Homer, Od. 15.36.). The distance from Telemachos' landing point on Ithaca to the Raven's Crag was not far according to Homer's text. From this specific point Eumaios the swineherd showed Odysseas where his herds were grazing. He also pointed out to him the mainland coast which was  visible from there (Od ξ 100-108).

αὐτὸς δὲ πρώτιστα συβώτην εἰσαφικέσθαι,
ὅς τοι ὑῶν ἐπίουρος, ὁμῶς δέ τοι ἤπια οἶδε,
παῖδά τε σὸν φιλέει καὶ ἐχέφρονα Πηνελόπειαν.
δήεις τόν γε σύεσσι παρήμενον· αἱ δὲ νέμονται
πὰρ Κόρακος πέτρῃ ἐπί τε κρήνῃ Ἀρεθούσῃ,
ἔσθουσαι βάλανον μενοεικέα καὶ μέλαν ὕδωρ
πίνουσαι, τά θ᾽ ὕεσσι τρέφει τεθαλυῖαν ἀλοιφήν.

And now for your part – the first man you must approach is the swineherd in charge of your pigs. His loyal heart is on your side as firmly as ever, and he loves your son and your wise queen Penelope. You will find him watching over his swines out at their pastures by the Raven’s Crag and at the Spring of Arethusa, where they find the right fodder to make them fat and healthy pigs, feeding on the acorns they love and drinking water from deep pools. HomerOd. 13.404-410.)

In the area of Kephallenia (=Kefalonia) under consideration, the southeastern part of the island, there is a place that has been called Koroni[iii] (Κορωνοί) from time immemorial: the name means ‘place of the crows’, from the Greek word κόραξ, κουρούνα or κορωνίς (crow). Here lies a hill on top of which you have a commanding view of the surrounding areas. Today tlelephone masts have been installed on the top of this hill. Just below it is a headland called Cape Kapros (see map.Καπρος Ακρ.), κάπρος being the Greek word for a wild boar. The Koroni area has more springs than any other part of Kephallenia, which amply corroborates Homer’s reference to the existence of a great spring thereabouts. Four particularly large springs in the Koroni district, all near the  place with the name Korakopetra (Crow’s Crag). are the Kefalovryso at Pastra, the Foukalida at Spathi, Agios Pandeleimonas at Skala, and the spring called Potistis Stou Lani ton Kambo in the area of Gradou below Anninata village.


Map of south eastern Kephallenia by Antonios Miliarakis (1890) marking the Koroni district (ΚΟΡΩΝΟΙ), Cape Kapros (Κάπρος ἀκρ.), the Skala district (ΣΚΑΛΑ) and Cape Mounda (Μοῦντα ἀκρ.). Just above Poros harbour (Πόρος Λ.) the map also marks the ancient ruins (Ἐρείπια ἀρχαῖα) of the ancient port of Pronnoi.


Two large springs in the Koroni district (Potistis and  Fukalida )

                    Kotylas Hill with the Korakopetra (Crow’s Crag) east of the village of Anninata
                                                                     in the Koroni district.

Another significant topographical reference in Homer is the πρώτη ἀκτὴ Ἰθάκης (Homer, Od. 15.36.)(the ‘first [i.e. nearest] point on the coast of Ithaca, which Athena told Telemachos was the best place for him to land on his return from Pylos in the south. 


                 Merchant vessel of the Homeric age similar to the one Telemachos borrowed to go to Pylos.


Eumaios, the swineherd,  refers to it as ‘the furthest point’ (ἐσχατιή), (Homer, Od. 14.104.) which is to be identified topographically and semantically with the southernmost shore of Kephallenia now known as Skala ( Σκάλα) with Cape Mounda at its tip (the name Mounda being derived from the Italian punta, ‘point’ or ‘cape’). Skala is so called because it is the first landing-place (σκάλα) for seafarers making a landfall on Kephallenia from the south-east (see map), while the archaeological finds provide a third body of more tangible evidence giving convincing  proof of the close connection between Homeric Ithaca and South eastern Kephallenia in that particular period of history.


                                                 Mounda beach, Skala ‘The first point on the coast’

Map by Roux (1747) marking C. Scala in southern Kephallenia, the implication being that it was one of the major landmarks for seafarers in those waters. Collection of Fotis Kremmydas.

Satellite image of the Ionian Islands showing the proximity of south- eastern Kephallenia 
(Pronnoi) to ancient Elis.


Remains of the ancient Doric temple next to the chapel of St. George at Skala.
Photo: Dimitris Vandoros.



















[i]    Homer, Od. 13.404-415.
[ii]    Homer, Od. 15.495-500 (13.404-415).
[iii]   Thiseas S. Tzannetatos, Το Πρακτικόν της Λατινικής Επισκοπής Κεφαλληνίας του 1264 και η Επιτομή Αυτού, Athens 1965, Ε 955, 972, 981.

1 comment:

  1. Nope, sorry. Just catch a ferry to Ithiaki for Homer's Ithaca.

    ReplyDelete