Did Ulysses Travel to Atlantis?
By Rainer W. Kühne
Proceedings of the Symposium on Science and Technology in Homeric Epics, ed. S. A. Paipetis (Olympia, 2006)
Introduction: Good fiction imitates facts. Plato declared that his Atlantis tale is philosophical fiction invented to describe his fictitious ideal state in the case of war. I suggest that Plato used three historical elements for this tale. (i) Greek tradition on Mycenaean Athens for the description of ancient Athens, (ii) Egyptian records on the wars of the Sea Peoples for the description of the war of the Atlanteans, and (iii) oral tradition from Syracuse about Tartessos for the description of the city and geography of Atlantis.
Homer’s Odyssey is poetry. It is often regarded as pure fiction. This view is supported by Ulysses’ adventures with giants like the Cyclops, goddesses like Athena and Circe, nymphs like Calypso, beasts like Scylla, and demons like the sirens.
On the other hand, Schliemann interpreted Scylla and Charybdis as the Strait of Messina. He interpreted Ogygia, the island of Calypso, as the east coast of Sicily, and Sheria, the country of the Phaeaceans, as Corfu.