John Esse Larsen is an independent Danish researcher who has expressed similar views to Felice Vinci regarding the Baltic origins of Homer’s epic tales, Iliad and Odyssey, in his 2012 book, Odysseus: Isse fra Od. He identifies many of the placenames recorded by Homer with Baltic and North Sea locations.
Larsen has an English language website(a) where many of his ideas are outlined, including an identification of the Pillars of Heracles with the Faroe Islands and Atlantis with the Wadden Sea region of the North Sea(b), Kirsten Bang had suggested the same location for Atlantis a few years ago.
The Trojan War, at first sight, may appear to have little to do with the story of Atlantis except that some recent commentators have endeavoured to claim that the war with Atlantis was just a retelling of the Trojan War. The leading proponent of the idea is Eberhard Zangger in his 1992 book The Flood from Heaven and later in a paper(l) published in Oxford Journal of Archaeology. He also argues that survivors of the War became the Sea Peoples, while Frank Joseph contends that conflict between the Egyptians and the Sea Peoples was part of the Trojan War[108.11]. Steven Sora asserts that the Atlantean war recorded by Plato is a distortion of the Trojan War and he contentiously claims that Troy was located on the Iberian Peninsula rather than the more generally accepted Hissarlik in Turkey. Others have located the War in the North Sea or the Baltic. Of these, Iman Wilkens is arguably the best known advocate of an English location for Troy since 1990. In 2018, Gerard Janssen has added further support for Wilkens theory(k).
However. controversy has surrounded various aspects of the War since earliest times. Strabo(a) tells us that Aristotle dismissed the matter of the Achaean wall as an invention, a matter that is treated at length by Classics Professor Timothy W. Boyd(b). In fact the entire account has been the subject of continual criticism. A more nuanced approach to the reality or otherwise of the ‘War’ is offered by Petros Koutoupis(j).
The reality of the Trojan War as related by Homer has been debated for well over a century. There is a view that much of what he wrote was fictional, but that the ancient Greeks accepted this, but at the same time they possessed an historical account of the war that varied considerably from Homer’s account(f).
Over 130 quotations from the Illiad and Odyssey have been identified in Plato’s writings, suggesting the possibility of him having adopted some of Homer’s nautical data, which may account for Plato’s Atlantean fleet having 1200 ships which might have been a rounding up of Homer’s 1186 ships in the Achaean fleet!
Like so many other early historical events, the Trojan War has also generated its fair share of nutty ideas, such as Hans-Peny Hirmenech’s wild suggestion that the rows of standing stones at Carnac marked the tombs of Atlantean soldiers who fought in the Trojan War! Arthur Louis Joquel II, proposed that the War was fought between two groups of refugees from the Gobi desert, while Jacques de Mahieu maintained that refugees from Troy fled to America after the War where they are now identified as the Olmecs! In November 2017, an Italian naval archaeologist, Francesco Tiboni, claimed(h). that the Trojan Horse was in fact a ship. This is blamed on the mistranslation of one word in Homer.
Various attempts have been made to determine the exact date of the ten-year War, using astronomical dating relating to eclipses noted by Homer. In the 1920’s, astronomers Carl Schoch and Paul Neugebauer put the sack of Troy at close to 1190 BC.*According to Eratosthenes the conflict lasted from 1193 to 1184 BC(m).*
In 2008, Constantino Baikouzis and Marcelo O. Magnasco proposed 1178 BC as the date of the eclipse that coincided with the return Odysseus, ten years after the War(a). Stuart L. Harris published a paper on the Migration & Diffusion website in 2017(g), in which he endorsed the 1190 BC date for the end of the Trojan War.
A new dating of the end of the Trojan War has been presented by Stavros Papamarinopoulos et al. in a paper(c) now available on the Academia.edu website. Working with astronomical data relating to eclipses in the 2nd millennium BC, they have calculated the ending of the War to have taken place in 1218 BC and Odysseus’ return as 1207 BC.
What is noteworthy is that virtually all the recent studies of the eclipse data are in agreement that the Trojan War ended near the end of the 13th century BC, which in turn can be linked to archaeological evidence at the Hissarlik site. Perhaps even more important is the 1218 BC date for the Trojan War recorded on the Parian Marble, reinforcing the Papamarinoupolos date.
Eric Cline has suggested that an earlier date is a possibility, as “scholars are now agreed that even within Homer’s Iliad there are accounts of warriors and events from centuries predating the traditional setting of the Trojan War in 1250 BC” [1005.40].
However, even more radical redating has been strongly advocated by a number of commentators(d)(e) and not without good reason.
(d) http://www.mikamar.biz/rainbow11/mikamar/articles/troy.htm (offline) see Archive 2401
Jason and the Argonauts and the quest for the Golden Fleece is recorded by Apollonius of Rhodes in his epic poem Argonautica. Although there are variants of some of the details in versions recounted by other authors, many researchers have felt that there was a kernel of truth in the story. Tim Severin was one of them and was inspired to retrace the voyage of the Argo in a replica of the ship, which led to the publication of The Jason Voyage. Decades later Dr Marcus Vaxevanopoulos of the Geology Department of the University of Thessaloniki in Greece expressed his belief that there is some reality behind the story of Jason and the Argonauts(a).
Although this has no direct bearing on the Atlantis story, when you combine these euhemeristic ideas along with Schliemann’s discovery of Troy after viewing Homer’s Iliad in a similar manner, it is understandable that many have sought the truth underlying Plato’s Atlantis narrative.
Seafaring and Atlantis are inextricably linked. Critias 117d anachronistically refers to the shipyards of Atlantis being full of triremes, which were not developed until the 7th century BC, long after the demise of Atlantis. However, the term ‘trireme’ was probably employed by Plato in order to make his narrative more relevant to his audience. He credits the Atlantean navy of 1200 ships, which seems like a borrowing and rounding of either the Achaean fleet (1186) in Homer’s Iliad or that of the Persian invaders (1207).
Seldom referred to, but perhaps even more interesting is to be found earlier in Critias 113e which reads “for at that time neither ships nor sailing were as yet in existence” in reference to the origins of Atlantis. However, we are given little information to bridge the time up to its development as a major trading entity. It is reasonable to assume a gap of several thousand years.
Recent studies(a) have suggested that primitive seafaring took place in the Mediterranean thousands of years earlier than originally thought and may even have been engaged in by Homo Erectus and Neanderthals in the form of island hopping and coast hugging, the latter continuing into historical times.
Plato’s describes an advanced maritime trading nation with a powerful naval capacity. How much was part of the original story brought from Egypt by Solon or if it was in any way embellished by Plato is unclear. The earliest known trading empire is that of the Minoans which began in the 3rd millennium BC and has led to many identifying them with the Atlanteans. However, there are very many other details in Plato’s narrative that seriously conflict with this hypothesis.
Isaac Casaubon (1559-1614) was born in Geneva where he became a professor of Greek. He later worked in France and England, but finally settled on editing Greek literature as a more rewarding occupation. Among his works was a 1587 commentary on Strabo and it was this production which inadvertently brought him into the Atlantis controversy in the early part of the 19th century.
In commenting on Strabo 2.3.6., Casaubon refers to Aristotle doubting the existence of the Achaeans walls reported by Homer in the Iliad. Casaubon notes that this statement was taken by Posidonius, who then inserted Plato’s Atlantis in place of the Achaean walls. Franke explains that this was done “in order to reject this comparison.” Nowhere does Casaubon attribute to Aristotle any claim that Atlantis was an invention by Plato.
However in 1816, Jean Baptiste Joseph Delambre when referring to Casaubon’s commentary hastily misinterprets the passage and describes Atlantis as the object of Aristotle’s doubt. This error was then repeated by later writers until gradually the idea reached critical mass so that in the 20th century it became “received wisdom”.
Nevertheless, in 2012, Thorwald C. Franke published a complete refutation of this incorrect addition by Delambre in his forensic study Aristotle and Atlantis, an English translation of the original German.
Aristotle and Atlantis  is an English translation of Thorwald C. Franke’s book, Aristoteles und Atlantis, first published in German in 2010. From the beginning the author makes it clear that this monograph is not concerned with debating the existence of Atlantis but is focused on how Aristotle viewed Plato’s Atlantis.
When I began my own research the prevailing understanding was that Aristotle had rejected the story of Atlantis as an invention. Franke’s study has turned this idea completely on its head, clearly demonstrating that there is implicit evidence that Aristotle was “rather inclined towards the existence of Atlantis”. However, he goes further and forensically demolishes the idea that the two passages in Strabo’s Geographica (2.3.6.& 13.1.36) were quotations from Aristotle and even if they had been, that they were references to Homer not Plato.
Perhaps even more important is Franke’s revelation of how the prevailing attitude regarding Aristotle’s opinion of the Atlantis story arose. He has carried out extensive research that brought him back to 1587 when a commentary on Strabo by Isaac Casaubon was published, which in turn was badly misinterpreted in 1816 by Jean Baptiste Joseph Delambre who attributed a critical comment by Aristotle regarding Homer’s Achaean wall in the Illiad to be instead a reference to Plato’s Atlantis. This had far-reaching consequences as Delambre’s book was probably more generally available than Casaubon’s, resulting in Delambre’s error being widely disseminated and so in time his misinterpretation gained sufficient critical mass to become ‘received wisdom’.
If the work of one person, Delambre, initiated nearly two centuries of misinformation, I hope that another individual, Thorwald C. Franke, can now begin to redress that situation.
This book is a ‘must read’ for anyone interested in a serious study of the Atlantis question.
Homer (c. 8th cent. BC) is generally accepted as the author of the Iliad and the Odyssey, regarded as the two greatest epic poems of ancient Greece. A recent study of the Greek used by Homer has enabled scientists from the University of Reading to confirm that the language used is compatible with that used in the 8th century BC, in fact dating it to around 762 BC(i).
It should also be noted that over 130 quotations from the Illiad and Odyssey have been identified in Plato’s writings(s). George Edwin Howes (1865-1942), an American classicist, produced a dissertation on Homeric quotations in Plato and Aristotle.
Almost nothing is known of his life. He has been variously described as mad, blind and even mythical. Andrew Dalby, the English linguist, has gone so far as to claim that the author of the two famed epics was in fact a woman! While in 1897 Samuel Butler, the novelist, was even more specific when he proposed that Homer was a Sicilian woman(j).
For centuries it was assumed that the content of these Homeric poems was the product of his imagination, just as the historical reality of Homer himself has been questioned. In 1795, F.A. Wolf, a German academic declared that ‘Homer’ was in fact a collective name applied to various poets whose works were finally combined into their present form in the 6th century BC. Wolf’s ideas sparked furious argument among Greek scholars that still resonates today. Now (2015), historian, Adam Nicholson has claimed that the author ‘Homer’ should not be thought of as a person but instead as a ‘culture’(o).
The identification of the site at Hissarlik in modern Turkey as Troy by Heinrich Schliemann led to a complete re-appraisal of Homer’s work and, of course, further controversy. Homer’s Iliad is the story of the Trojan War and it has been suggested that in fact he had compressed three or more Trojan wars into one narrative. What is not generally known is that there are also ancient non-Homeric accounts of the Trojan War(q).
Kenneth Wood and his wife Florence have built on the research of his mother-in-law, the late Edna Leigh, and produced, Homer’s Secret Iliad, a book that attempts to prove that the Iliad was written as an aide memoire for a wide range of astronomical data.
Allied to, but not directly comparable with, is the astronomical information identified in the Bible by the likes of E. W. Maunder (1851-1928).
Guy Gervis has adopted some of their work and specifies a date of around 2300 BC for the events described in the Iliad and Odyssey, based on an analysis of this astronomical data(n). Harald A.T. Reiche held similar views which followed some of the ideas expressed in Hamlet’s Mill by Santillana & Dechend who were colleagues of Reiche at M.I.T. They also claimed that “myths were vehicles for memorising and transmitting certain kinds of astronomical and cosmological information.”
A recent study of solar eclipses recorded in Odyssey using data from NASA has apparently confirmed that Odysseus returned to Ithaca on 25th of October 1207 BC(r).
Scholars have generally supported the idea that Homer’s works have a Mediterranean backdrop with regular attempts to reconcile his geography with modern locations, such as the claim in 2005 by Robert Brittlestone, a British investigator to have located the site of Ithaca, the homeland of Odysseus, on the Greek island of Cephalonia. This popular idea should be put alongside the views of Zlatko Mandzuka who maintains that all the locations mentioned in the Odyssey can be identified in the Adriatic.
Nevertheless, there has been a growing body of opinion that insists that this Mediterranean identification is impossible. A range of alternative regions has been proposed(f) as the setting for the epics, which extend from Portugal as far northward as the Baltic.
In his Odyssey (VII: 80), Homer wrote about the island of Scheria in the western sea. His description of the island has been compared with Plato’s description of Atlantis and has led to the theory that they refer to the same place. There is little doubt that both the detailed geography and climatic descriptions given by Homer cannot be reconciled with that of the Mediterranean. Consequently, the Odyssey has had many interpretations, ranging from Tim Severin’s conclusion that it refers entirely to the Eastern Mediterranean to Iman Wilkens’ book, Where Troy Once Stood, that has the voyage include the west coast of Africa, then across to the West Indies and following the Gulf Stream returns to Troy which he locates in Britain. Location is not a problem exclusive to the writings of Plato. Wilkins views are a reflection of similar ideas expressed by Théophile Cailleux in the 19th century. Gilbert Pillot has also argued for voyages of Ulysses having taken him into the North Atlantic. In 1973, Ernst Gideon (? – 1975) wrote in a similar vein in Homerus Zanger der Kelten, reprinted later as Troje Lag in Engelan.
An interesting overview of the various attempts to transfer the Odyssey from the Mediterranean to Northern Europe is available(w).
Another researcher who places all of Odysseus’ travels in the eastern Atlantic is Gerard. W.J. Janssen of Leiden University on the academia.edu website(v).
E.J. de Meester also argues for the British Isles as the location of many of Homer’s references. It struck me as quite remarkable that the level of debate regarding the date, source and geographical details of Homer’s works is rather similar to the controversy surrounding Plato’s Atlantis in Timaeus and Critias. The late Edo Nyland was another researcher who had also opted for a Scottish backdrop to the Odyssey and had recently published his views.
Felice Vinci also supports a Northern European background to the Iliad and Odyssey. However, in Vinci’s case, Scandinavia, and in particular the Baltic Sea, is identified as the location for the adventures in Homer’s classics. An English language synopsis of his book is available on the Internet. The persuasiveness of Vinci’s argument has recently renewed interest in the idea of a Baltic Atlantis. The assumption being that if Troy could be located in the Baltic, so might Atlantis. Vinci’s views are comparable with those of J. Rendel Harris expressed in a lecture delivered in 1924(p) in which he claims that “we are entitled to take Homer and his Odysseus out of the Mediterranean or the Black Sea, and to allow them excursions into Northern latitudes.”
However, a scathing review of Vinci’s book can be found on the Internet(d) and in issue 216 (2006) of Fortean Times written by Marinus Anthony van der Sluijs.
Further support for a Northern European Troy has come from the historian Edward Furlong, a former naval navigation officer, who has advocated for over twenty years that the journey of Odysseus went as far north as Norway. His particular views are outlined on the Internet(c) .
Other writers, such as the late Henrietta Mertz [0396/7], , have suggested that Homer’s epic refers to a trip to North America. Professor Enrico Mattievich Kucich of Lima University is also certain that the ancient Greeks discovered America America. However revolutionary this idea may seem it shows how this particular subject is growing and would probably justify a reference book of its own.
*The idea of an Atlantic backdrop to the Homeric epics will not go away. The Dutch researcher, N.R. De Graaf, continues to write extensively on his Homeros Explorations website(x) regarding many of the specifics in Homer’s accounts.*
In 1973 James Bailey proposed in his well-received The God-Kings and the Titans that the Odysseus recorded a trans-Atlantic trip. Evidence exists for large-scale mining in the Americas as early of the 5th millennium BC. Bailey maintained that the Europeans imported enormous quantities of copper and tin from Central and South America to feed the demands of the Old World Bronze Age, an idea that was later heavily promoted by Frank Joseph*and in great, if overly speculative, detail by Reinoud de Jong(y).*
Finally, the Atlantis connection with this entry is that if, as now appears to be at least a possibility, Homer’s Odyssey was about a journey to the North Sea then the possibility of a North Sea setting for the Atlantis story is somewhat reinforced.
A recent book by Steven Sora has developed the Atlantic notion further with the suggestion that not only was Troy located outside the Strait of Gibraltar but that both Homer’s Trojan war and Plato’s Atlantean war are two versions of the same war with the understandable distortions and embellishments that can occur with a narrative, probably involving some degree of oral transmission and then written down hundreds of years after the events concerned.
Ukraine is soon to be added to the growing list of alternative locations for the setting of Homer’s epics with the publication of Homer, The Immanent Biography, a book by A.I. Zolotukhin(g). He claims that Homer was born in Alibant (Mykolayiv, Ukraine) on September 14, 657 BC(t). He follows the views of Karl Ernst von Baer (1792-1876) who believed that most of Odysseus’s travels took place in the Black Sea rather than the Mediterranean. Additionally, he locates Atlantis in the western Crimean area of Evpatoria(l). His 60-page book is available on his website(m).
An interesting paper(e) by the German historian, Armin Wolf, relates how his research over 40 years unearthed 80 theories on the geography of the Odyssey, of which around 30 were accompanied by maps. One of the earliest maps of the travels of Odysseus was produced by Abraham Ortelius in 1597(u) , in which the adventures of Odysseus all take place within the Central and Eastern Mediterranean, arguably reflecting the maritime limits of Greek experience at the time of Homer’s sources!
In 2009, Wolf published, Homers Reise: Auf den Spuren des Odysseus a German language book that expands on the subject, also locating all the travels of Odysseus within Central and Eastern Mediterranean.
Wolf’s ideas were enthusiastically adopted by Wolfgang Geisthövel in his Homer’s Mediterranean, who also concurs with the opinion of J.V. Luce , who proposed that Homer was “describing fictional events against authentic backgrounds.” This would be comparable to a James Bond movie, which has an invented storyline set in actual exotic locations around the world.
Perhaps the most radical suggestion has come from the Italian writer, Michele Manher, who has proposed(h) that Homer’s Iliad originated in India where elements of it can be identified in the Mahabharata!
In August 2015, a fifteen hour reading of the Iliad was performed in London.
(k) https://web.archive.org/web/20180320072706/http://www.nwepexplore.com (see ‘n’)
Felice Vinci (1946- ) is an Italian nuclear engineer with a background in Latin and Greek studies and is a member of MENSA, Italy. It is his belief that Greek mythology had its origins in Northern Europe.
His first book on the subject in 1993, Homericus Nuncius, was subsequently expanded into Omero nel Baltico and published in 1995. It has now been translated into most of the languages of the Baltic as well as an English version with the title of The Baltic Origins of Homer’s Epic Tales. The foreword was written by Joscelyn Godwin.
However, the idea of a northern source for Homeric material is not new.*In the seventeenth century Olof Rudbeck insisted that the Hyperboreans were early Swedes and by extension, were also Atlanteans.*In 1918, an English translation of a paper by Carus Sterne (Dr. Ernst Ludwig Krause)(1839-1903) was published with the title of The Northern Origin of the Story of Troy.(m)
Vinci offers a compelling argument for re-reading Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey with the geography of the Baltic rather than the Mediterranean as a guide.A synopsis of his research is available on the Internet(a).
His book has had positive reviews from a variety of commentators(j). Understandably, Vinci’s theory is not without its critics whose views can also be found on the internet(d)(b).and in particular I wish to draw attention to one extensive review which is quite critical(k).
Stuart L. Harris has written a number of articles for the Migration and Diffusion website(c) including a number specifying a Finnish location for Troy following a meeting with Vinci in Rome. M.A. Joramo was also influenced by Vinci’s work and has placed the backdrop to Homer’s epic works to northern European regions, specifically identifying the island of Trenyken, in Norway’s Outer Lofoten Islands, with Homer’s legendary Thrinacia.
Jürgen Spanuth based his Atlantis theory on an unambiguous identification of the Atlanteans with the Hyperboreans of the Baltic region.*More specifically, he was convinced [p88] that the Cimbrian peninsula or Jutland, comprised today of continental Denmark and part of northern Germany had been the land of the Hyperboreans.*
As a corollary to his own theory, Vinci feels that the Atlantis story should also be reconsidered with a northern European origin at its core. He suggests that an island existed in the North Sea between Britain and Denmark during the megalithic period that may have been Plato’s island. He also makes an interesting observation regarding the size of Atlantis when he points out that ‘for ancient seafaring peoples, the ‘size’ of an island was the length of its coastal perimeter, which is roughly assessable by circumnavigating it’. Consequently, Vinci contends that when Plato wrote of Atlantis being ‘greater’ than Libya and Asia together he was comparing the perimeter of Atlantis with the ‘coastal length’ of Libya and Asia.
A 116 bullet-pointed support for Vinci from a 2007 seminar, “Toija and the roots of European civilization” has been published online(h). In 2012 John Esse Larsen published a book expressing similar views.
An extensive 2014 audio recording of an interview with Vinci on Red Ice Radio is available online(f). It is important to note that Vinci is not the first to situate Homer’s epics in the Atlantic, northern Europe and even further afield. Henriette Mertz has Odysseus wandering across the Atlantic, while Iman Wilkens also gives Odysseus a trans-Atlantic voyage and just as controversially locates Homer’s Troy in England. Edo Nyland has linked the story of Odysseus with Bronze Age Scotland.
Christine Pellech has daring proposed in a 2011 book, that the core narrative in Homer’s Odyssey is a description of the circumnavigation of the globe in a westerly direction(i). These are just a few of the theories promoting a non-Mediterranean backdrop to the Illiad and Odyssey. Obviously they cannot all be correct and probably all are wrong. Many have been seduced by their novelty rather than their provability. For my part I will, for now, stick with the more mundane and majority view that Homer wrote of events that took place mainly in the central and eastern Mediterranean. Armin Wolf offers a valuable overview of this notion(g).
(m) The Open Court magazine. Vol.XXXII (No.8) August 1918. No. 747
Walter Leaf (1852-1927) was born in London and educated at Harrow and Trinity College, Cambridge. He was a banker by profession, holding the position of chairman of Westminster Bank for the last decade of his life. He was one of the founders of the International Chamber of Commerce of which he was president in 1925. From 1919 until 1921 he was president of the Institute of Bankers.
However, it was as a classical scholar that Leaf was arguably better known having been president of the Hellenic Society and the Classical Association. He translated Homer’s Iliad as well as works from Russian and Persian, and was fluent in several European languages, including French, Italian and German.
He apparently accepted the reality of Atlantis and was one of a number of writers to note the similarity between Homer’s Scheria and Plato’s Atlantis and opted for Crete as its most likely location.
The Atlantean Navy consisted of 1,200 ships, according to Plato. Such a fleet would be totally unnecessary unless your potential enemies had a similar force. It is worth noting that that over 130 quotations from the Illiad and Odyssey have been identified in Plato’s writings, suggesting the possibility of him having adopted some of Homer’s nautical data. Homer records that the Achaean fleet consisted of 1,186 ships, a number that could be naturally rounded up to 1,200 – a coincidence?
Similarly, Herodotus records that the Persians had a fleet of 1,207 triremes at the Battle of Salamis (480 BC). It is a further remarkable coincidence that of all the military statistics recorded by Plato, the only number that is not an exact thousand, relates to the size of the Atlantean fleet. A number that is the rounded value of the Achaean fleet in the Trojan War and the Persian fleet which attacked Athens just 50 years before Plato was born. It is not improbable that 1,200 was used in this isolated instance as a representation of the ultimate in naval power at that time! A website that reviews the classical sources relating to the Persian fleet in greater detail is available(c).
Since conventional archaeology identifies the Bronze Age Greeks and the Phoenicians in the Eastern Mediterranean as possessors of the earliest navies, the possibility of a naval force of such a great size 9600 BC is considered improbable if not completely impossible. Recent discoveries on Cyprus have provided evidence of primative seafaring in the region as early as 12,000 years ago. However, it appears that occasional travellers from Turkey and Syria who utilised crude stone tools arrived there in rather small boats. We are therefore forced to conclude that Plato’s reference to a powerful navy supporting an extensive merchant fleet is either a heavy embellishment of a real story regarding a prehistoric civilisation or an allusion to an actual Bronze Age thalassocracy.
An interesting series of illustrated articles(a) on ancient ships offers a useful background for the study of the Atlantean Navy.
Plato describes the Atlanteans as using triremes which is quite improbable as they were probably not developed until around the 7th century BC(b). It is more likely that Plato used the term trireme to make his narrative more relevant to his Greek audience.