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Odysseus Unbound
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  • Page extent: 618 pages
  • Size: 253 x 203 mm
  • Weight: 2.053 kg


 (ISBN-13: 9780521853576 | ISBN-10: 0521853575)

DOI: 10.2277/0521853575

  • Published October 2005

Unavailable - out of print May 2012

 (Stock level updated: 16:50 GMT, 09 October 2015)


Where is the Ithaca described in such detail in Homer's Odyssey? The mystery has baffled scholars for over two millennia, particularly because Homer's descriptions bear little resemblance to the modern island called Ithaki. This highly illustrated book tells the extraordinary story of the exciting recent discovery of the true location of Homer's Ithaca by following a detective trail of literary, geological and archaeological clues. We can now identify all the places on the island that are mentioned in the epic - even the site of Odysseus' Palace itself. The pages of the Odyssey come alive as we follow its events through a landscape that opens up before our eyes via glorious colour photographs and 3D satellite images. Over a century after Schliemann's discovery of Troy, this breakthrough will revolutionise our understanding of Homer's texts and of our cultural ancestors in Bronze Age Greece.

• Offers a compelling solution to one of the oldest problems in classical scholarship using a combination of literary, geological and archaeological clues • Tells the story of the author's discovery in lively prose enhanced by numerous stunning colour images • Enables the reader to follow the events of the Odyssey through a real landscape brought vividly to life


Prologue; Text, translation and images; Part I. Speculation: 1. Catastrophe; 2. Conundrum; 3. Odyssey; 4. Controversy; 5. Schizocephalonia; 6. Strabo; 7. Geology; 8. Coincidence; 9. Competition; 10. Ambush; 11. Poseidon; Part II. Exploration: 12. Thinia; 13. Phorcys; 14. Eumaios; 15. Asteris; 16. Telemachos; Part III. Assimilation: 17. Analysis; 18. Inquiry; 19. Landscape; 20. Quickbird; 21. Doulichion; 22. Laertes; 23. Network; 24. Pottery; 25. Drama; 26. Exodus; Part IV. Revelation: 27. Rockfall; 28. Earthquake; 29. Uplift; 30. Shoreline; 31. Epiphany; 32. Ithaca; 33. Intuition; 34. Vision; Epilogue; Appendix 1. James Diggle: A philologist reflects; Appendix 2. John Underhill: The geology and geomorphology of Thinia; Appendix 3. Exploratory technology; Appendix 4. A comparison of Homeric theories; Appendix 5. Postscript.

Prize Winner

voted by Foreword Magazine as one of its top ten university press books of the year. 2005


'This curious, spellbinding book is a masterpiece of writing for the general public. The geological argument in particular is first-class and leaves me in no doubt about the possibility of the theory being proposed.' Tjeerd van Andel, University of Cambridge

'Bittlestone's argument romps home … triumphant, though many will take issue with his conclusions, which is as it should be.' Daily Telegraph

'Though neither a classicist nor a geologist by training, [Bittlestone] makes an impressive and enthralling case … the account of how he reached his conclusions is clear, engaging, funny, wonderfully illustrated - and informed by the work of leading specialists whose contributions are generously acknowledged.' The Times Literary Supplement

'This book is a gem. Its reconstruction of prehistoric Ithaca has a convincingly Homeric 'look and feel' to it. Reading the Odyssey is unlikely ever to be the same again.' Gregory Nagy, Harvard University and Center for Hellenic Studies, Washington DC

'A fascinating and compelling book; recommended for both public and academic libraries' Library Journal

'The reader's reward is truly thrilling detection supported by breathtaking illustration, yielding a revitalized epic whose prime location of Ithaca is made newly recognizable and powerfully evocative.' Foreword

'… magnificently illustrated …' Sunday Telegraph

'… the intellectual and investigative process by which Bittlestone undertook this endeavour offers unique insights into board level issues such as risk assessment, leadership and even performance management. This makes Bittlestone's journey into the past … a truly fantastic voyage of discovery.' Financial Director

'… extraordinary book … our continued engagement with this most venerable of texts provides us with an enduring mystery in itself, and one that is perhaps unlikely ever to be solved.'

'A sumptuous production, this, with thousands of illuminating illustrations, likewise opulent in valuably synthesising charts of historical and scientific data … [Bittlestone] is outstandingly fair-minded towards rival theorists. Eschewing academic Newspeak, he writes with clarity, verve and humour … stupendous work. A non-scientific neutral, I find the geological arguments impressive to overwhelming.' Fortean Times

'Bittlestone … has not been satisfied merely with proving that Paliki was once and island. Most of Odysseus Unbound is taken up with arguing that Homer's description of Ithaca maps so precisely onto Paliki's landscape that Bittlestone can identify the location of Odysseus's palace, his pig-man Eumaios's farm, and so on.' BBC History

'… a remarkably produced book, and CUP is to be congratulated on its appearance … [Bittlestone] has opened up a fascinating path for others to follow further, and we should be both grateful and full of admiration for what Bittlestone has managed to teach himself and us.' The Anglo-Hellenic Review

'… a heavyweight book …'. Daily Telegraph

'The attempt to bring together ancient texts, modern archaeology and the Earth sciences is potentially exciting, even if the final verdict is always going to be 'possible - but not proven' … Bittlestone did persuade me that his ideas are worth taking seriously.' Geoscientist

'[The author's] relaxed, approachable writing style, geared to the non-academic reader; photographs and scientific images along side beautiful descriptions and modern translations of excerpts from Homer's 'Odyssey'; the humour and infectious enthusiasm with which the whole thing is presented; all make for an extremely enjoyable read.' Greek-o-file

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