Michael MacRae (1949- ) is an Australian artist, writer and documentary maker who specialises in comparative mythology. His 2014 book, Sun Boat:The Odyssey Decipheredoffers the theory that Homer’s epic poem is an account of Odysseus’ circumnavigation of the world circa 1160-1130 BC.
In June 2015 he was ‘the author of the month’ on Graham Hancock’s website(a) with an article promoting his book. However, Jason Colavito has responded to that with a dismissive critique of MacRae’s idea(b).
This tussle has continued back and forth on Hancock’s website(c).
MacRae notes the suggestion that Homer’s Scheria can be identified with Atlantis and as such was probably situated off the western end of the Bay of Cadiz, Portugal’s Cape Vincent.
Scheria is the name of a Phaeacian island mentioned by Homer in his Odyssey and identified by some, including Ignatius Donnelly, as Atlantis. Scheria has been noted as only second to Atlantis for the array of locations ascribed to it. For example, Heinrich Schliemann, as well as many ancient and modern commentators, considered Scheria to have been Corfu. Others, such as Felice Vinci suggest Norway, while Iman Wilkens offers the Canaries.
A recent paper by Gerard Janssen, of Leiden University, also places Scheria in the Canaries, specifically on Lanzarote(f). This is one of an extensive series of papers by Janssen, which links Homer’s geography with locations in the Atlantic(g). An introductory paper(h) might be the best place to start.
An Atlantic location for Homer’s epic poems is advocated by N.R. De Graaf, the Dutch author of the Homeros Explorations website(i). Specifically, he also concluded that Scheria can be identified with Lanzarote in the Canaries concurring with Wilkens and Janssen.
Armin Wolf (1935- ), the German historian, suggests(b) Calabria in Southern Italy was Scheria and even more controversially that the Phaeacians were in fact Phoenicians!
Wolf also claims[669.326] that although the country of the Phaeacians is in some translations called an island, the original Greek text never calls it ‘island’ just Scheria, which, Wolf informs us, etymologically means ‘continent’ – perfectly fitting Calabria. Even today, when people from Sicily go to Calabria they say they are going to the ‘continente’. Wolf puts Scheria in the vicinity of Catanzaro, the capital of Calabria. It has been suggested to me in private correspondence(d) that the etymology of Catanzaro is strongly indicative of a Phoenician influence! Catanzaro is also known as ‘the city of the two seas’, having the Tyrrhenian Sea to the west and the Ionian Sea to the east. It is Wolf’s contention that it was across this isthmus that Odysseus travelled[p.327].
A further mystery is that, according to Dr Ernst Assmann quoted by Edwin Bjorkman, “both the vessel of Odysseus, as pictured in Greek art, and the term applied to it, are of Phoenician origin.”
Daniel Fleck(a) lists ten similarities between Scheria and Atlantis. Jürgen Spanuth quoted and added to an even more extensive list of comparisons between the two compiled by R. Hennig. Rainer W. Kühne has also written a paper(c) on the similarities.Walter Leaf perceived a connection between the two and wrote accordingly. Edwin Björkman went further and wrote a book that linked Tartessos, Scheria and Atlantis. More recently, Roger Coghill stressed the similarity of Homer’s Scheria to Plato’s Atlantis in The Message of Atlantis . Ernle Bradford notes that the name Scheria itself is thought by some to be derived from the Phoenician word ‘schera’, which means marketplace, which is not incompatible with Plato’s description of Atlantis as a hive of commercial activity. [1011.204]
Michael MacRae in his Sun Boat: The Odyssey Deciphered also thinks that Scheria could be identified with Atlantis and as such was probably situated at the western end of the Gulf of Cadiz near Portugal’s Cape Vincent. A number of 20th-century researchers such as Sykes and Mertz have placed the travels of Odysseus in the Atlantic. More recently, Gerard Janssen has followed this school of thought and as part of his theories identifies Scheria as the island of Lanzarote in the Canaries (e).
However, Ernle Bradford, who retraced the voyage of Odysseus, voiced his view that Corfu was the land of the Phaeacians and noted that “the voice of antiquity is almost as unanimous about Scheria being Corfu as it is about the Messina Strait being the home of Scylla and Charybdis.”
(a) See: Archive 2087
(d) Private correspondence Jan. 2016