173rd Bardot Blog, No. 5 in Series: Odysseus, Cephallenia and the Geomorphology of Far Western Greek Seascapes

 

Shaded relief map of the Mediterranean. Colored according to relative height. Map projection Lambert Conic Conformal.

The map that leads this posting accords with Odysseus’ lifetime years as the Sea Wanax over the Ithacan League while co-regent with his father Laërtes. Throwing my regular readers into a pool of water without any aids at their flotation, my intended immersion is more exotic than it seems by the potential dunking. First, be cause many readers do not know ell the epic hero from The Odyssey of Homer, especially about his years of early manhood some nine years before he crossed the Aegean Sea by way of his naval support of the Trojan War. Secondly, Cephallenia was his maritime region, mostly unknown because most readers arte more familiar with Ithaca, his birthplace isles within the Ionian Sea which still is, in fact, sobriquet for a home return after many years at wandering, and also for the region in which it places so tinily. Third and finally, and almost unknowable until recent years, most everything about the geography of Cephallenia should fascinate even the least curious among us. Fot the rtegion introduces most readers to the scientific research of geomorphology, by which the related, more speculative arts supposed of paleo-geography.

The Larger Setting of The Odyssey

My reference material is the Cambridge University Press publication Odyssey Unbound by Robert Bittlestone, 2005. No longer in print, since 2012, it essays the exposition of the geomorphology of Thinia by John Underhill, by his studies of its rift and valley upon Cephalonia Island of Greece. Bittlestone’s thesis and purpose by the book has been a case for another author of the Odyssey than Homer, as by a rhapsodist former to the epic poet who actually lived upon or knew especially well Cephalonia and her near surrounds of sea and mainland. He sets out to prove where Odysseus lived separately from his epic birthplace supposed of Ithaki Isle of modern Greece.

Because this is introductory to several unfamiliar disciplines, this posting shall attempt simplicity and brevity through the agency of Odysseus himself, at his familiarity with his ancestral homeplaces (1) Samë of Cephalonia Island, (2 and 3) the lost isles of Dülichion and Taphia, (4) Ithaca/Ithaki Isle and (5) his sister Ktimenë’s realm of Thesprotia upon the Small Gulf or Gulf of Ambrakia as modernly known. At all those place there were thje most active venues of ship construction, inclusive all the preparatory stages of the modular practices, praxeis, attendant to the programming by shipwrights. Thereby their whole assemblies of the war galley classes Triakonter, Pentekonter and so-called Boeotian Great Galleys. All classes are addressed as though prototypical ship construction of each class, because most all we know about them during the Greek Late Bronze Age is so thin a gruel for a hearty repast.

Allow me some prehistory of a robust sort to tell you about……..

The Geomorphology of Cephallene Shipbuilding

Odysseus had spent the winter of 1270/69 BC at resumption of his supervision and approvals of current innovations particular to the Great Gulf Galley. He was following through on nearly four years of such retrofits, such as Mentör has chronicled before this posting by his Fifth Royal Chronicle brought to composition by the Bardot Group. As he opens the Sixth Chronicle, here essayed in small part, there’s much of his own historical narration about the evolutions inherent to those great warships, about his great grandfather Cephalos in particular. It accredited creator, at least prototypically, he built the Triakonter war galley into advanced swift ships of great seaworthiness until 1360 BC. He became an exile in that year from Attica and his birthplace of Eleusis on account of a hunting accident that killed his wife Prokris, the exaltation of whom led to accusation and conviction of perpetrated homicide.

Notwithstanding that circumstance, those very ships destroyed imperial Minoa through his boon friends the Princes Erechthëid, in particular Phaiax and Phereklos. Notwithstanding their triumphs at full investiture of Crete Island, and the rubouts of imperial warships everywhere the Greek Archipelago over the next year, 1353 BC, Cephalos had used his six years of banishment very well to fullest further effect of his naval genius. With his thrird boon friend, Nausithöos, they destroyed the Imperial Far Fleets of the last Minos ever Crete ever, through disinformation, covert manipulations, lure of the Minos into peril, and unto a final sea battle that rubbed out 350 years of the so-called Minoan Thalssocracy.

Bay of Alykai, Seaport of Thebes

From 1360 to 1354 BC, upon the west side of the Isthmus of Ephyrëa, Cephalos had based himself securely upon the seaboard of the Plëides Woodlands, now western Megaris. From there he built an extensive shipwork within the Bay of Alykai of Thebes – the recent successor region to Kadmeis, a fallen high kingdom. There Cephalos hustled along a last rapid evolution of the Triakonter by its elongation to sixteen sweep oars breasted both its broadsides. Fells of exceeding tall and yet slim pines off the slopes of Mount Helikon, his old class became an brief tradition of naval architecture, from which, he composed praxeis for a new class, prototypical to the Pentekonter as early as 1356 BC. When Nausithöos and he destroyed the Great Minos, the last of his title by the dynastic House of Minos, within the Cyclopes Islands and just offshore Africa, that especially long and slim war galley, most superbly extended of beam by cantilevered broadside apoëteis, proved most instrumental in the triumph.

They coursed especially fast while unladen, as was required of readiness for sea battles and long distance overtakes of naval opposition.His new class achieved by 1356 BC became over three years some sixty launches, which he rowed through the autumn zephyrs in 1352 at lead of an armada, having met his promise to his his new patron, Amphitryon, Regent Custodian over Thebes, Cephalos was agreeably to naval genius behind that new great friend, and by him the conquest of the Echinades Isles over the formidable opposition of Pterelaus the Uniter. For by then Phaiax and Phereklos had become wholly disaffected from Attica under its new king-of-kings, as Theseus had self-styled himself after the importune death of his father Aigeus. Regarding the superhero of Attica as obnoxious and vexatious, they’d taken their war fleets around the Peloponnese – all navies and all available transports embarking from their customary landfalls in and around the Saronic Gulf. They voyaged around the Peloponnesus, and finally down the Great Gulf, to make a wondrous sight as fully arrayed and oncoming to the Bay of Alykai.

By a reckoning of the class subsequent to its triumphs at lead over Triakonters, I prefer another earliest technical nomination of his fleet class to be otherwise than a prototypical Pentekonter. A coherent class definition, it was not yet standardized to what the name of the ship means— a galley of twenty-five to twenty-six sweep oars breasted each broadside. Those oars could be manned by either one or two oarsmen to each sweep by way of their seated bench configurations. This vessel is much better characterized generically as a great galley monoreme of a single gallery of thole pins and stanchion backrests. That infers a midship whose crouched, only barely seated rowers were uncovered, or shaded over solely by tautened canvas. That made it an aphract vessel, by the Greek aphractos, for a meaning “not decked.” Cephalos’ prototype, moreover, had the apoëteis, or cantilevered beam extensions, decked over to both protect the oar looms resting upon their thole pins, and else to enable some quick stepping of seamen along the outer length, or above the freeboard, of the entire warship amidship. Finally, however, his new class wore at most eighteen to twenty-two sweeps each broadside—the most that his hull lengths could accommodate. So my designation of his class in best technical term-of-art has to be the Great Aphract Monoreme, even as popularly termed the Great Gulf Galley. [Incidentally, the Triakonter came to be popularly known as the Saronic Gulf Galley.]

Approaching the Maritime Era of Laërtes and Odysseus

Now that we’re depart all such technical jargon for keeps, allow that what I’ve set before our readers has greatest purview within Mentör’s much later Archival Chronicles. They began about Cephalos, and they’re replete with Mentör’s description of hull flotations for shipworks at Brauron Cove and Basin of Bay Attica, where slipways extensively concealed around the Saronic Gulf as well – especially after the imposition of the cruel and ruthless Tribute Takings by imperial Minoa from 1268 BC and following until 1354 BC.

I shall not prove redundant with those chronicles, or with that naval shipbuilding history. I skip over the 1350s to 1330s BC to the late 1320s, during which the ascendancy of Arceisius, Cephalos’ son by hiera-Lyssippë of Samë (the Ianeira of the Isles by sacral title and majesty). I redact Mentör even so, by preferring for my readers’ edification, instead, the Master’s superb rendition of the shipworks by then accomplished by his father Cephalos and appointed heir apparent Zakynthos. For their settings, arisen during the primordia of the Echinades Isles, and of Cephalonia Island in particular, are especially interesting seascapes.

Why? Because we next begin with the arrays of slipways at Taphia Isle & Isthmus, where the carving of great logs off Ëpeiros into longboat dugouts until made into hulls byu fore and aft modules most befitting to the true class edition of Great Gulf Galley.There’s considerable geographic orientation for readers that I should and shall provide to taphia. For the primordial features at that isle and all the rest of her sisters are nonconforming to what we know of them today, these modern times, about them. That then shall be what we’ll be mostly engrossed in and about before this posting concludes.

Taphia Isthmus was a necklace of shoals uneroded by winter sea storms arriving off the Ionian Sea. They were primordial reefs by extensive coral formation that evolved over countless millennia. They were heaped with sand and sea shell detritus, and by dead coral beds beneath that apparent surface texture. Even as the shoals were enlarged and heightened by seismic movements from deep below the sea bottom, the Isthmian Shoals were least effected by subduction of the North African Continental Plate as wedging itself under the broad mantle of the European Plate’s edge, by cleavage from NNW, as asserted each seismic upshift that enabled an entire regeneration of new coral beds that widened the shoals.

There was a main cut, or channel through those shoals, by which to enter a large lagoon at Taphia Isle’s northeast end. A tidal cut further east was easily bridged by heavy rafts, whose removal allowed a useful canal by which to drag, or even portage war galleys southward, across a beach head. Thereby that formation, a narrowe depicted below, of the Akananian Sound, the waterway betwen Taphia Isle and the mainland of Arkanania.

Modern Taphia Isle & Isthmus, which perpetuates Taphia’s
Great Lagoon and Entry into the Arkananian Sound

The greatest logs for the deep interior carving and final shaping of bilge bottoms depended upon slipways along the outer barrier reef; it faced northward, up and against the Ionian Sea. At just below the Adriatic Sea, once called the Ionian Gulf, numerous parking berths were gouged out of the old and deep shoal detritus. Scaffolded slipways were then easily installed to bear the whole length of the immense log or dugout longboat, for flotation of either while both earliest and last interior carving doen to their bilge bottoms. Typical of the sandy build over a mostly dead barrier reef, resurgent coral beds thickened the standing shoal during the times of Odysseus.

Along the west side of the lagoon, moreover, all completed dugout longboats could be dragged into another coastal array of slipways. Erected over sand, rolling baulks supported tropeis of hulls. That term is Greek for the basal hull of two cutwake extensions fore and aft. Raised high by scaffolding, footing planks enabled installation of broadside bulwarks. Such earliest finishing of the longboat allowed well-grouted ribs and lower thwart installations in mutual support, or for cradling, of later installed tanchion benching for oarsmen

Without any unusual geomorphology attesting the primordial geography of another venue of shipworks, Prebeza, lies above a chersonese of that name that was likewise utilized to complete basal dugout longboats. While about describing those operations technically, Mentör also defined, forever after and henceforth, just where Taphia Island must actually have located in true Antiquity, from before the dynasty of the Cephalids. Three sovereigns by direct successions – Arceisius to Laërtes to Odysseus – brought their maritime region to a nigh imperial sea power, and their realm to the status of a high kingdom.

Scholars have refused to accept the Isle of Taphia as one and the same as modern Leukas Isle, sometimes called Leukadios, before it became Santa Maura Isle under its name by the Venetian Sea Empire. That it became provable before the Master’s writ, or the Bardot Group’s, could not cause the enormous brou-ha-ha from our caste of armchair scholar castes to desist its consensus. Even from the global High Professoriats great umbrage arisen on accopunt of the great archaeologist Professor Dorpfeld. He’s been disproved since of his bold theory that Ithaca, the homeland of Odysseus and the Cephalids, located verily upon Leukas Island, at along its shoreline upon the Arkananian Sound (but not depicted by my illustration). I let that pass as utterly useless controversy, such as it is and soon shall be explained, on account of yet another and for superior theory than Dorpfeld’s.

Taphia, by what little we’ve understood of her beforetimes, and by all times since, was the homeland isle of Homer’s minor character, Mentes from The Odyssey. About him The Bardot Group insists his homeland House of Hippothöe, by a former annexation of Taphia, from which Commodore Lothröos, a boon friend of both Laërtes and odysseus, owed his direct descent— from Pterelaus son-of-Hippothöe the Great, the great granfather of Pterelaus the Uniter whom Cephalos slew. Mentes made regular destination of Ithaca by his traffic in trade of sideron, or wrought iron. He transported the rude metal in its standard forms of molded bars or staves, or else as sheaves of pre-tempered shafts.

Because most western locations of iron ore were barely known within Homer’s own lifetime, we still can’t establish for a certainty just where Mentes’ resource of the ore, or of wrought ingot brought down to Ithaca as an example destination of his wares for Odysseus’ approval and for wahtever in behalf of. The inference remains that Taphia was a product destination or southernmost depot of ore taken out of the Eridanos River, whose far upstream was abundantly ferrous. His source thereby was very far away from any of the Echinades Isles, even Scheria above the Ithacan League—or just as a merchant magnate of monopolistic proclivities would have his resources situated.

Mentör’s Sixth Archival Chronicle, therefore the Bardot Group’s, has other lessons for us to learn from maritime Cephallenia. For after Taphia Isthmus and Prebeza Chersonese, to which we’ll return in a next posting after this own, the Chronicle takes Odysseus, and us, over to Dülichion Isle. There we’re smacked with yet another geomorphological anomaly out of the geography of Greece’s far past millennia.

By the Imagery, Satellite and Man Conceived

Resources available to this Translator allows me several satellite depictions of the modern Ionian Isles of Cephalonia and Thiaki. They are useful for either my emendation or touch-ups. I’m also able to reproduce the scholarship of respected geomorphologists – sometimes called paleo-geographers – without plagiarizing them unduly.

And yet we’re briefly about to head on and into other fierce contentions. They’re by the pre-classical times of Ancient Greek History—some 450 years later than Mentör’s death just before the 12th century BC. Thjat means long after the Late Aegean Bcronze Age ended. Homer recited his epics during a brief renaissance from the Greek Dark Age, whereupon the Lyric/Archaic Age (725 to 500 BC). Homer defined Cephalonia Island from a consensus about its three major dominions – Palë, Samë and Pronöï – although those toponyms are connotative of “a Mother Island” composed from a mostly tight cluster of common, highly interactive dominions. They were only roughly autonomous sub-realms, therefore. They’re described, respectively, by the modern Paliki Peninsula, to the west; the lowland skirts of Mount Ainos, above whose Thynian Rift offshooting to the northwest was once extensively forested. The third dominion was the modern Erissos Jut, an isolated projection northward at just across from Ithaca Isle or Thiaki.

The ancient geographer and naturalist Strabo was the first historian and geographer to assert that the Paliki Peninsula had once been an isle solely by itself. It was defined as by a channel of indeterminable depth whose width was disputable as readily navigable. That natural canal once ran deep enough, nonetheless, for largest ships, at least in the times farthest past that are pertinent to The Odyssey by Homer’s epic mastery. Since Strabo’s lifetime our geomorphologists have argued with solid respect for him. They have explained the channel such as Strabo himself could not. Now studied seismically and stratigraphically, the channel’s pronounced deep water cleavage became gradually closed over the passing millennia since. [Image Dülichion & Vignette of Ithaca]

The northern end of massif by the Thynian Rift running straight from Mount Anos at the southeast end of Cephalonia to itself, the western side of both islands thereby hung over an abysm. It was a west side cleft of deep submergence by the landmass of Samë as largest ever defined. Strabo’s conceived channel  was a navigable sea passage, visible notwithstanding in our satellite image depiction.as a very narrow, seemingly shallow. It appeared above a “sound,” and entry in fact into the Bay of Argostoli. To have run somewhat broader than the satellite rendition seems an impossibility. My rendering is a modest emendation, moreover, of what two modern geomorphologists, Bittlestone and Underhill, have conceived from Strabo’s strong working hypothesis. They have served us a simple presage to the geological complexities that we’ll briefly confront. For regardless the difficulty of any straightforward exposition in behalf of Strabo, the subject of the modern experts’ geomorphology is a worthy discussion to consider, at least en passant.

I also introduce both scholars otherwise for being so astute as to have explained plausibly why The Odyssey, an epic fantasy, was preceded by many simultaneously running plot lines by their originating rhapsodists, perhaps true bards. Most importantly, those originalists had such a profound knowledge of Cephalonia Island that Bittlestone in particular has ventured to explain for the image presented just where all the characters of the epic walked and strode within an actual insular setting of The Odyssey.

The Paliki Peninsula and Cephalonia Island,  hypthesized as Dülichion and Samë Isles.

Allow that what I’ve depicted over previous and following satellite images shall seem counter-intuitive to our any visualization of a deep and narrow water channel that might sunder two land massifs fused by modern appearances. How can the interior from Ithaca’s Bathi Inlet be buried under Homer’s Pale as barely discernible just south of a northern hillock, laying west side of valley west and below the modern elevation of the Thynian Rift’s massif?

That notion makes sense, though, when we learn, as we must, that earthquakes can be either vertical by their first full force of thrust, or else downward by horizontal bias, a forceful wedge of continental plate subduction. Even as earthquake leave faults that are assumed horizontally fricative, by accepted general theory about the slippage of continentally sized tectonic plates, the plates per se don’t always slip or slide past each other. They are presumed predominantly to do so, nonetheless.

Obviously the channel depicted above is no less definitive of two separate isles than what Strabo might have illustrated through his own thinking upon their situations. The actual axis of the sea passage, or “sound,” is what Strabo would have rendered to persons wholly lay to the obscure field of paleo-geography. Further discussion follows, accordingly…….

Dulichion by a Satellite Image corrective of Strabo.

Strabo, the Bardot Group has found, has been wrong in a most precise sense. The actual sea passage’s axis, as now scientifically theorized, ran within an abrupt shift, by a lift of subduction, whereby a narrow that corrects Strabo’s minor fault of perception. Once the channel was placed to the east and underneath what’s now so clearly the axis of massif off Cephalonia Island’s Mount Ainos. A SSW to NNE vector of axis by water juxtaposes the rift from SSE to NNW. That’s both odd and also counterintuitive—utterly obfuscating.

For the fault zone’s alignment, before the channel lying over an abysm was crammed at both sides and closed up. Formerly a narrow sea trench directly beneath the Thynian Rift. The North African Plate rose up to fill that trench by its wedged force of vector pushing northeastward, leaving the narrow seeming “deep water sound” above to become shallow by the accretion of falling landslides. The filling occurred after many more typical earthquakes that have characterized seismic activity of all the Ionian Isles and the near north mainland nomos of Arkanania. The steep rise of slope thereby the landslide has revealed an immensity of sheer igneous rock massif, itself a projection of some considerable overhang of the sea trench below the concealing upper land mass.. The Thynian Rift’s massif strikes NNW, as said. We state with emphasis, moreover, that a nigh bottomless abysm formerly lay directly beneath the Rift.

How can that be so?

Prehistory of Seismic Cataclysms

To begin at six millennia ago, the North African Plate subducted the Central European Plate. It did so as many as seven times again until a former deep tidal channel, “the sound” as I’ve termed it, became first narrowed of sides, and subsequently crammed close, under the clear verge of continental massif that Cephalonia Island essentially defines to hover above. Each time and in between the two plates eroded or partially slid off and into the abysm. Thereby a high and immense rift became poised as a steep palisade directly over the axis, or isobar, of the plates’ contact with each other by lift of each episodic subduction. That means, as I’ve tried to illustrate well, that the Paliki Peninsula at the cup of the North African Plate had almost to become wedged beneath Homer’s Samë Island, by causing that main insular massif upon the European Plate to rise appreciably. But its exposed edge to tides at the ebb and rise at its overhanging the abysm, flaked off landslides, as did the cliff face of the Thynian Rift’s westernmost extent continue to do so at each episode of subduction.

Long after Mentör’s lifetime, when peninsula and massif finally melded verges by subduction above the abysm – whereupon a complete closure, therefore – the operating force vectors defined Cephalonia Island as it’s now so familiar to a soaring bird’s eye view. While horizontal earthquakes below 7.0 on the Richter Scale are almost an annual occurrence within the Ionian Isles, the vertical shakes that have greatly exceeded that logarithmic scalar of geomorphic force at uplift have occurred a minimum of five times over the 3,200 years since the LABA ended in 1190 BC. The upthrust by each shake of subduction has averaged 60 centimeters by mean rising, or to about two feet for each major instance. What might have been reckoned of force on a Richter Scale must have far exceeded 7.0. Additionally, any of the five speculated occurrences of subduction must have proved oxymoronic, a ”prolonged instance” as the perceived actual enactment. The first moment of each subduction, by itself even so, is nearly impossible for lay persons to imagine.

We can only comprehend somewhat through witnesses of the last occurrence, in 1953. Let suffice, to say of it here, that the sudden upthrust sounded like metros racing within five stacked subway tubes out of New York City. All of them as though running beneath the Thynian Rift, the five collective sounds of subterranean subways issued from Mount Ainos at SSE, the white mountain peak in our offered images. The tubes, by which the making of a common transit of five trains along a distance to NNW, had a duration transit lasting 25 seconds from first big rumble. Their crescendo to climax of five cacophonies at onrush might have proved nigh deafening. That’s what the uplift would sound like, but not yet feel like.

Twenty seconds into that climactic crescendo all else about must have seemed relatively silent – no longer deafening, that is – but the visual next occurrence had to have proved utterly astonishing. For by looking down from the Thynian Rift upon a hilly landscape below – where, perhaps, small and dense hamlets tucked into gently sloped glens and ales – you’d suddenly see all the houses and major buildings popping up their roofs and then collapsing. The impact of all the roofs upon their foundations would raise dust 100 feet high in a few seconds. All roofs so suddenly to have fallen, mostly collapsing intact, they covered all the the rubble wrought beneath them. Concussions with the ground simultaneously and sidewise, moreover, might barely have been discerned.

The whole incident, accordingly, was an immense and instant squashing. So were all its likes before and afterwards – by a some time next and same inevitable occurrence of subduction.

The five horrendous occurrences of subduction drove every settled populace away. The damage to community was too irreparable. So has been the result of the few horizontal crushes of plates by slippages at above the calamitous 7.0 Richter level. The occurrence in 1953 is, again, the best incident of subduction ever cited, or studied as amost recent example. As astonishing as that sound and sight must have seemed at two briefest intervals apart, the geomorphological process by aftermath of vertical earthquakes is, on the facts of direct consequences, so much more amazing.

The Thynian Rift became each time steeper, apparently higher, and yet its landslides of talus were no more frequent than its line of high ridge – as itself, that is – became stripped and yet rounded of summit eastward. The top of the Rift crackled along very thin fissures. They became gradual scores of surface subsequently, until in semblance they became vertical rills of most marvelously rounded contours, as though bas-relief. They also seemed to drip clay like sap that accentuated rills scored upon the Rift’s surface of incrementally arising steep palisade. The skirts below those rills show slumps and heaps, as though of oozy sap solidified. They seem to drip off the bottom of the cliff face, accordingly. The effect of solid, drooping rock facing makes manifest just how inertial, resistant, almost immutable the Thynian Rift must always have seemed along its entire length south and down to Mount Ainos. So, despite the humongous upthrust that last visited Cephalonia, the erosion is mostly manifest today by seismic renditions captured at where Paliki has now fully subducted former Samë. Three or four major subductions in the past has Mentör decribing the channel once it no longer was a “sound” or tidal sea passage.

As Odysseus describes that palisade to me, it’s steep cliff face high rises above a shallow channel. I later observed it from within its former sound, at the entry at the head of the south bay, Argostoli, a few landslides of gray clay by slump heaps of new shoreline. Whatever had slipped off the denuded cliff to form a smooth ooze of solidified channel embankment were once those lumpen, slumpen heaps. What attests a sheer wall of barren rock, all the way up its face, are shallowly grooved rills vertical as lengthwise – as light scores which they truly are somehow – whereupon dangling creepers suspend over and down the palisade’s wind-blasted complexion. For the wet season’s tempests are smiting that face hard and constantly, to allow such flora to appear just so lush as it seems in springtime, and again at last fortnights of autumn foliage – all the while Odysseus sojourned at Dülichion after our first full summer together had ended our sojourns upon Scheria Island and near mainland Ëpeiros.

So for how modern the Paliki Peninsula became defined, and how its final phases of closure once appeared, thereby to be aptly described Dülichion, an island formerly known until approximately 1600 BC, at almost a millennium before Homer’s epic masterpiece to think it such.

We also have this in passing from Mentor, before I get to main point of geomorphological analysis so particular, as it shall and must be, to Ithaca Isle:

…… Because of those lumpen clay repositories, I discovered for myself the purest powder that can be pulverized and readily sacked. Accordingly, I’ve seen the channel up close in these my ellderly years. I’ve observed it so only in summer or other dry season, when it’s best time to carry the pulverized lumps off and away. It’s easier at such times to see under the parched and dangling creepers, thereby to discern those scores running lengthwise, high and vertical, in parallel courses, at only a pace of width between their rills.
Still, it all looms most splendidly over you, in such dreadful immensity as to think, perchance at any next moment, it all could topple down upon the slim channel and clog it permanently.

 

Strabo’s Channel has been emended to a somewhat narrower depiction than he described. He insisted that water flowed readily from one end to the other during regularly elapsing tides. During storm sets of winter season, it barely showed its bottom during low tides. Mentör, by contrast, describes the channel as both narrower and some places along it visibly shallow. Ebb tides revealed several shallows, not here depicted but most times clearly discerned.

The Tilth of Cephalonia’s Tripartite Agronomy:

The moss colored terrain attests to the latter day main divisions of Cephalonia, as known to Homer from before the geographer Strabo. That particular hue denotes tilth by which to grow crops for resident shipwrights and livestock provender cultivation for transient livestock at pasture before embarked aboard ships as live stores. That the three dominions of ancient Cephalonia were so close together, yet autonomous of governance by their respective High Matrons, or Governesses, is most important. By their contiguous situations there was also a most deliberate coordination of the whole agronomy by all the other islands, or as they were composed in Odysseus’ prime eyars of manhood. A fullest diversity of segregated surpluses, either for export or for livestock stores put aboard ships, derived from the comparative advantages respective to each autonomous dominion at comity within their tripartite.

Oblivious to this topic of our geomorphological interest, Odysseus says about the sea channel and its utility during his last teenage years:

Barns spanned the channel and were at considerable replication with each other. Others are more aptly called lodges and locate within the rolling hilly sprawl lying inland and west side of the sea passage. Their summertime purpose remains, for the weaving of cordage into heavy hawsers, or for braiding strong main sheets of sails, or for firm-stays suited to permanent running rigging of mer4chant vessels. In winter the barns also serve for fine carpentry and the manufactories of chandlery goods. For all that Dülichion is a capital seat for the finest skilled practitioners of most shipwright arts. They define its true nobility of patron class, community, and for the most part clans. Their ilks rule autonomously, regardless the bounty of the resident Medas that so generously feed them.

The density of so many activities and the duties attendant upon so many shipwrights, likely proved daunting to any new visitor. Along the sea passage’s west side there’s terraced [and contoured] embankment and some broad tilth that’s dedicated to provision of the working settlements. Besides the artisans of caste there were many homesteads of veterans off the Fleets. Many ennobled by their sea duty, some after years at able commands, there were also resident there shore commandants, or longshoremen coordinators, even to the relocation there of the few patron clans [heriditary nobility] of Sea Chiefs. Withal, what was originally rural had become rather dense and complexly integrated, even to following daily duty rosters that involved every manner of coordinating assembled skills.

Such dense settlement has had important consequence for Cephallenia and the Ithacan League. Dülichion in particular enjoys autonomy from her First Estate [of matriarchal governance] even as their mostly patron clans are entirely loyal to the House of Cephalos as a matter of supreme naval command over all the shipworks. An order of merit has many persons of high and lowly statures at foremost authority. They set priorities for the shipworks by their set projects and manning of construction duties. There is a naval governance in keeping with, and within the meaning of, my great grandfather, which is known as unique at nominated a timocracy

What that term of governance meant to Odysseus was this:

Whenever the men were not at their skills, they formed into several corvées. They made rotation of each other at the cultivation of crops, all as meet to their proper season and harvest of tilth. Children were put to the hard work of shepherds over the entire range of Dülichion from their very early ages. Then the lads were apprenticed to the shipwrights until their sixteenth years attained, when then they took happily to the summons of conscription into the Fleets. Usually they served their eight years at achieving a particular expertise via shipwright billets once aboard their assigned warships.

The grown girls loom the sails and stitch the standard mariner attire. Among their sex, for those of maiden age, there must also be included the Islander’s incomparable artisans of leather and woven goods. Their craft sororities are the rival of Mentör’s Highlanders in all respects at producing best tanned goods, excepting only their rugged footwear, which the women don’t bother with, or attempt to rival…

A last illustration, previous page, composes what we take from Mentör — by all opportunities so far translated — of his apt descriptions of the tidal sea passage between Dülichion and Cephalonia. But what I say to the point of the geomorphology by which the island stands away from Cephalonia is this: At some point in a century long after the 12th century BC, all that was dense sprawl was uplifted within a duration of a 25 second subduction, Such seismic calamity arose 60 centimeters by the vector of “pull” of swtructures off their foundations upon soclew stones. Arisen that height so suddenly, the duration stopped, all ground shuddered for a few seconds more, awhile the collapse of roofs and any upper stories flattened to the surface of mother earth. It was calamity from which the inhabitants could not recover. We cannot say what became of them, such is the murk of the Greek Dark Age within the greatest likelihood of the episodic subduction.

Odysseus: Dülichion to the west is also still a major livestock exporter and [domestic] provisioner, despite the enormous consumption of meats by its own populace of shipwrights. Add the constantly transient fleets at sea passage to reach Argostoli Bay, once Cephellenia’s largest harborside. Zakynthos, the former Garden Isle just to the south, is likewise steadfast to fresh produce export and livestock stores by resupply of transient fleet components. Samë, the true Mother Island by contrast, was a consistent exporter of grains while wholly self sufficient at fresh consumables after the manner of Pronöë [Erissos Jut]. She, too, had a large portside of seafarers, so that bulk exports in grains must diminish during Father’s lifetime in order to feed the mariner populace. Easily supplanted by bulk export of forest products, at Laërtes behest since the last League Council, [1272 BC], such ordinary enterprise at the raw shaping of woods had the governing matrons always accommodating the needs of millwrights, men innovative by methods of shaping or curing woods, and as such prosperously entrepreneurial through their own retained carpenters and timber millers.

 I remark last about Erissos Jut of Cephalonia, which was also called after its borderline Drakon Valley “the Valley of the Serpent.” Its manor plantation dominion exploited an long, steady, somewhat undulating rise of land plotted by contoured terraces and stepped to contain tilth [alluvium] that’s supplemented by pine needle and leaf fall every autumn. Set to a winding pattern of such terraces, contoured strips of grain cultivation grow within the rubble walls running outward by contours a fair distance at each side of winding farming pathways. In summer, all autumn ground cover removed aside, those terraces supply the island with all its diversified needs— the freshest consumables of diet, plenty of jerked meats off grazing cattle, seasonal legumes and dried fruits out of longstanding, well-kept orchards. It did not produce a surplus of grain, however, because of the mostly wet season farming that is practiced there.

So, while Mentör makes clear to us that Dülichion and Homer’s Palë must have been one and the same, albeit as a peninsula eventually becoming, Odysseus often must wonder why and how a natural channel, easily maintained as such, allowed Dülichion to deem itself a detached peninsula. For despite the nearly annual small earthquakes at reccurrence along the Thynian Rift, and for all the tumbling ooze into its channel below, it remained just barely navigable. In Odysseus time, or according to his observation, all land west of the Thyrnian Rift was a single dominion at service of Cephallenia’s extensive naval operations.

Ithaca as Dülichion

Let’s pause to reconsider the implications of the ongoing inferences—according to the geomorphological tendencies of a most seismically active part of Greece. Bittlestone has made real prehistory out of his findings by relating the Paliki Peninsula to Ithaca Isle, even as I shall argue below why the island detached from the Mother Island Cephalonia was indeed Dülichion all to itself. Bittlestone’s findings are entirely consistent with a major sprawl of integrated shipworks and a society of greatly skilled populace, all dependants, that inhabited dales and glens behind the west shore of the sea passage that once existed, albeit very near or even at a final phase of seismic accretion to fill it in.

Our reliance has been upon Mentör off the acute and regular observations of Odysseus into the past of his forefathers. And there’s the lore he also learned from the Wanax Laërtes. From both their compilations we next address the prior eventualities that concerned the upper Bay of Argostoli and which affected a happening there in 1353 BC.

Acting as both Navarch and Battle Commodore for Amphitryon, Cephalos and his Attican fleet commodores made easy land invasion most anywhere their choices of places to combat the Echinades Islanders. He was particularly alert and knowledgeable that his naval opposition was Pterelaus, the appointed champion-at-arms to defend the Islanders. It was inevitable that they would fight a naval battle from which one of them would emerge unconditionally the victor. That occasion was an investiture of Dülichion via landfalls of the lagoon that indents the Paliki Peninsula, just as it was when still called Palë Lagoon. Bittlestone hypothesizes credibly its posture as first homeplace of Cephalos after the invasion of the Echinades Isles was complete to their martial occupations. Having landed Amphitryon in full land force, the Regent Custodian of Thebes proved his martial prowess at consolidating all land gains by every sea raid and investiture that followed. But then, at last, he got stuck upon Palë at retreat back to the seat and the protective lagoon that Cephalos insisted upon all recourse of Amphitryon to seaward retreat.

It also seems that Cephalos had stated himself wary of the entire land invasion for reasons of the tight confines of the Bay of Argostoli. The narrow sea passage at its head – along the shoreline of Dülichion’s densest populace, gave the Battle Commodore premonitions of dire peril, owing to the head of the bay appearing a means of entrapment, either south or within the sea passage. Leaving his class of troop transports to Amphitryon’s invasion force to reboard along the lagoon, many such ships so provided, Cephalos had drifted his great galleys well south upon the Bay of Argostoli wherein his positioning of vigilance. He left at the entry above the sea channel Commodore Phaiax’ advanced triakonters, escort or scout ships all; their crews well-armed and trained to take on any sudden opposition at approach to the passage. But such force was not expected to prove expeditiously reinforcing, should the southern side of the sea passage become hemmed in by ambush. So all the while of his maneuvers – by Phaiax north and above the passage, Phereklos at south upon the head of the bay and Nausithöos at each side of the tuck of Palë Lagoon – Cephalos stated himself aloud as extremely nervous at center of them all.

Sure enough, Pterelaus brought his entire navy over to a fray from the Garden Island which would be renamed Zaynthos. In such full force that enemy went head-on against Cephalos by a series of arrays that presented a phalanx of his fully manned paddle boats and narrow oared vessels. All such ships had sturdy prows for ramming most effectively. Ideal for the battle, Enemy’s number far exceeded the whole number of Cephalos’ war galleys, and all others, mostly Triakonters under his several adjutants, even as newly dispersed to blockade the lagoon where the retreats of Amphitryon. For such ships could not expose themselves to ramming; they could not withstand repeat concussions from mere paddle longboats. Instead they must trample the oarages of opponent oared vessels, even to trampling the low longboats themselves without concussions.

The battle engagement that ensued had Cephalos’ great galleys bows arrayed thinly from the south end of the lagoon all the way across the head of the bay. It took him much time to summon and achieve reinforcement from his own TriakontersIn such rearguard formations to an outer array of well-manned scout ship triakonters. The latter, formed in arrays alike pickets, took the piercing attacks of Pterelaus’ brave numbers of wholly inferior vessels. He overwhelmed the vanguard defense of Cephalos’ triakonters, but the great galleys drowned all vessels however persistent at breaking off their blades and oar shafts. Cephalos trampled them effectively, even as his adjutants managed to race their triakonters down the sea passage despite some harassment of them from the shore by the Islanders whom Amphitryon had not been able to fully repress, despite his consolidated land victories elsewhere of Dülichion.

In last desperate measure, because mostly defeated at last, Pterelaus managed to board Cephalos’ bannership, a great galley. There he died in the dual that ensued. upon the helm deck. Ever afterwards Cephalos suffered great remorse over his good luck, reasoning correctly that he should have lost the sea battle at considerable sacrifice as well of Amphitryon’s Thebans stuck ashore and utterly incapable of re-embarking their troop carriers.

After that prolonged sea battle of many nervous moments and impasses, Cephalos and Amphitryon settled upon Samë Portside on the east coastline indentation of Cephalonia Island. There they effected a peace, actually an orderly martial occupation over all the Echinades Islands. Amphitryon chafed and brought his force back to Thebes. The matriarchs of dominion and First Estate appointed Cephalos to High Chief over them all, using the treaty compact to retain their powers over the rural and port village commoners subordinate to their agrarian demesnes [the manor plantation commonwealths. The appointment also eased him into full authority over the Second Estate of patron “sea chiefs,” such as had held major power over the maritime social order of the Islanders.

Argostoli Bay forever intimidated Cephalos as a capital water for his establishjed navarchy and supreme naval command.. He preferred having his warships constantly on the rove and building up cache points for their layovers near abroad. He preferred such maneuvers to having them caught within any confining bay water. Given the mythic supposition that he was under the “omni-observance” of his tutelary Eos the Goddess of the Dawn, his fears were not allayed by her prescient command of all knowledges that were most advanced by human work and practical ingenuity at any given time. She would have inspired his most ingenious defense as it had turned out. But he retained remorse over his own disobedience to his own sense, to wit, that the Bay was as ill-suited for any great navy of warships. Rather it was a perfect winter mooring from stormy wet season at the end of the Islanders’ naval years.

Cephalos became content and very active over his first years while living at Samë. On the constant to and fro’, he’s responsible for turning Dülichion into a shipworks for building novel merchant vessels of enduring qualities and practicalities, even as he continued to operate most extensively out of the Bay of Alykai of Thebes—for warship construction and assemblages of convoys out of Ephyrëa. Eventually he became enamored of the small isle of Ithaca for its commanding situation of vigilance offshore the broad entry into the Great Gulf. Phaiax found extensive springs upon the Isle – they would prove appurtenant to the enormous watershed that lay beneath Ithaca and the Mother Island as some contiguous abysm of freshwater subsurface reservoirs. There he finally began to render its Cut of midrift sea passage to make the Isle the Harbor Island, whereupon to situate his expansive fleet operations kept constantly at roving.

That would not diminish Dülichion that it was so cautiously passed over as a capital of navarchy – an admiralty, While still central to Cephalos’ naval operations and the furtherance of the Isles’ maritime commerce, its commerce activities supplanted all its war naval purposes except ship minor building. So to say, therefore, that Ithaca Isle had a very late emergence within the prehistory of early Greece, about the Echinades Isles in particular. In his elderly years Cephalos deemed its location of greatest potential for standing a sturdy dynastic House, over a supreme sea chieftainate, at lead over the patron clan order of the Isles whose many chieftainates alike were dispersed throughout their west coastal archipelago. He left to his sone Arceisius to build out Ithaca, and as he did so ably and aptly, Cephalonia became a seat of agronomy and manufactories of chandlery artisan wares. He made an important naval port of the large cove where modern Argostoli situates today – after destroying it as a haunt of Argive pirates and brash adventurers off the south mainland of Greece. He snuffed out a brief hegemony over the west coast of the Peloponnese by imperial Argolis and its related House of Broteas over Elaea.

While resident Samë Portside, he had sired Arceisius off the holiest woman of the Isles, Lysippë, the entitled Ianeira. Keep in mind, though, that wedlock occurred many years after consorting with the widowed wife of Pterelaus, whose son Zakynthos he adopted and early announced his chosen heir apparent. So long and happy was that consortship, and so reputed Cephalos for servicing many women who deemed him so overpowering and alluring, that the formal royal and sacral marriage to Lysippë bore Arceisius when cephalos wasfar into middle aged. Rather than accept that reality, Homer and Classical Greek mythographers insisted Arceisius to have been a late arrived demigod to Ithaca, without any mortal sire, without a couching of his mortal mother with Cephalos. Instead, Arceisius was a “new man” borne from Zeus and Euryodia. That way he was most properly patriarchal, or just as much later Greeks of historical times deemed Arceisius.

It’s all nonsense along with many other false versions of who and how Cephalos became one of the Late Patriarchs of Greece during the Mycenaean Age. Arceisius remains stolidly a man out of Early Greek Mythology, by which he’s veritably the one and foremost son of his parentage, even though belonging to his father’s second lifetime, lived as the PaleoPatër over the Echinades Isles and the people called the Teleboeans and Taphians. Arceisius’ name which connotes “ a bear,” derived from the clan totem of the imputed mother Euryodia. More likely the name pertained aptly and yet obscurely to the totemism amidst which Lyssippë’s inherited sacral legacies.

In conclusion and in brief, that the Harbor Island as found and first named became the seat of a sea empire begun with Cephalos’ naval genius, was affirmed by Arceisius in fact after he outlived the designated heir apparent Zakynthos. The imperial proportions were perpetuated by successor Cephalids far into the last decade of the 13th century BC.

Accordingly, we’ll be having more to say about Odysseus as the Sea Wanax over the Cephallenes as next we post further discussion of his supreme command over the construction of Great Gulf Galleys.


for the Bardot Group

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