HOMER'S GEOGRAPHY                                 download PDF


The name Messene appears in the following excerpt, in which Penelope is going to fetch the arch of Odysseus from the storage room:

The highly elastic bow with the quiver hung there, which contained
numerous arrows that could sow death and destruction.
His godlike friend Ifitos, son of Eurutos, had once
given it to him in Lakedaimon.
Both met at the brave Ortilochos, who owned
a house in Messene. So Odysseus had gone there
to claim a debt that the whole country owed him.
Three hundred sheep with shepherds were taken
from Ithaka by men of Messene in ships with many oarsmen.
That is why Odysseus made that long voyage, sent by
his father and other elders, though he was still quite young.
Ifitos came there, in search of a dozen brood mares
he had lost, including mule foals, who are sturdy workers.  (21,13 ff.)

Messene is mentioned here as the hometown of Ortilochos (elsewhere referred to as Orsilochos), the father of Diokles of Ferai (= Faro, Portugal), with whom Telemachos and Peisistratos spend the night during their trip to Sparta (Lagos), as shown in this text :

Then they reached Ferai where Diokles' house stood,
the son of Ortilochos, whom Alfeios bore as her son,
There they passed the night...... (15,187 ff.)

Diokles, who had lost two sons around Troy (V,542), comes from the area of the river Alfeios that forms a wide stream through the land of the Pulians, indicating that Messene must lie on the Alfeios. The etymology of Alfeios is from elf (-tidal current), as in the Elbe, Albula (= Tiber). 'Elf' is the name of several rivers in Scandinavia. The Alfeios tidal river is the upper reaches of the Baetis (Guadalquivir).1 In 21,14, Homeros talks about the great bow of Odysseus that was once given to him by his friend Ifitos in Lakedaimon and in Messene, which indicates a connection between Lakedaimon (Lagos-Portugal) and Messene (Alfeios area).

However, the following lines about the Messenian pirates (v.18-31) contain a number of inconsistencies that have not been noticed by any of the Atlantic authors.
- First, it is stated that Odysseus and Ifitos met in Messene, where he got the bow, but that they never met at their tables home because Ifitos had previously been killed by Herakles. According to Stanford (II, 358), in Homeric times prior to the Doric invasion, (Greek) Messene was a part of Sparta, which is exactly as indicated in this text: they met in Lakedaimon, especially in Messene in the house of Ortilochos (see above). In the Atlantic setting, this means that Lagos (Lakedaimon) and Messene belonged together. The identification of Messene with the area of the Alfeios would mean that the realm of Menelaos extends not only far north (Hellenes, north of Portugal) but also far east to the Alfeios. However, Ifitos himself comes from Oichalia (II,730), which Wilkens (p.337) equates with Skaelskør on Sjaelland, Danmark. If this identification is correct, the distance from Jerez to Sjaelland makes it likely indeed that they have not seen each other afterwards.
- Secondly, it is remarkable that the Messenians came to steal three hundred sheep with large ships (many oarsmen) and that Odysseus had to undertake a "long voyage" (v.20) to reclaim them. From this, it can be concluded that the Messenians came from far over the sea and not from the neighbourhood via the Baetis river.
Cailleux has found a logical solution by connecting Messene with Messe on the basis of II,581 ff.:

Those who inhabited the hollow land of Lakedaimon
with all its gorges and Faris, Sparta and the pigeon-rich Messe,
Bryseiai, the beautiful Augeiai, and
those who lived in Helos, a seaside city, in Amyklai and             
Laäs and around the region of Oitulos,
these came with sixty ships over which his brother,
the always helpful Menelaos, was in charge.

Messene on the Alfeios River and Messe (Zaouit Massa),Marocco

Cailleux (PA 424): 'Menelaus ruled in Lagos, but his empire stretched far into Atlantic regions. First, he owned the coast of Mauritania (Morocco) with Faris, Sparta and Messe, that is, the land of the Farusii (source: Pomp. Mela), Cap Spartel and Messe ... '2 Messe or Masse is now Zaouit Massa in the Souss-Massa nature park with the Massa river, Morocco, near Agadir. Cailleux also connects Messe with data from the Bible about the prophet Ionas spit out by the whale at Messe, a large seaside city in Morocco. Now Messe is referred to by Homeros with the term "pigeon-rich" (polutrérona) and the word iona in Fenician means "pigeon". Homeros apparently refers to these Atlantic territories.
If the identification Messene = Messe is correct, it means that Messenian pirates from Morocco had held a raid with several ships in Ithaka where they had captured three hundred sheep. The "long voyage" corresponds to the distance Cadiz-Messe (780 km). Ifitos also came to Messe to complain about the alleged robbery by the Messenians of twelve mares with foals.
-Third, there is another, chronological problem: are Odysseus and Herakles contemporaries? This is discussed in Introduction Herakles (H.O.).

Based on the foregoing arguments, we must conclude that the entire passage is chaotic and that two different Messene's have been connected: the Messene on the Alfeios, the upper reaches of the Baetis, part of Menelaos' Lakedaimon, and Messe, where the Messenian pirates came from, also part of Menelaos' empire. It remains unclear where Odysseus and Ifitos met, in Messene at Ortilochos' or in Messe, where both were looking for stolen animals. They may have met twice, from which their friendship originated.

1. Wilkens map 16, p.346.
2. The fragment Iliad 2,581 ff. is thoroughly discussed in Introduction Sparta. In addition to these Mauritanian areas, Menelaos also possessed Augeiai and Bruseiai, found by Cailleux in the Azores, since Augeiai can be derived from Hawk-eyes (=Hawk Islands) and açora (etymologically connected with Azores) means "hawk, falcon", while Bruseiai corresponds to the harbour (St)- Braz on S. Miguel.

Abbreviations used for the books of Th. Cailleux (1878):
OC  Origine celtique de la civilisation de tous les peuples
PH  Poésies d' Homère
PA   Pays Atlantiques, decrit par Homère
Citations of Homer: Roman cyphers = Ilias, e.g. XX,345; Arabic cyphers = Odyssey, e.g. 13,34.

Bibliography Atlantic authors:
Homeros Odyssee, by Gerard Janssen, Leeuwarden 2018 = H.O.
Gideon E. Troje lag in Engeland, Deventer 1991, reprint of Homerus, zanger der Kelten, 1973
Grave Ch.J. De  République des Champs Élysées, Gent 1806, 3 parts.
Vinci F. The Baltic Origins of Homer's Epic Tales, 2005
Wilkens I.J. Where Troy once stood, 1990,
                   Dutch: Waar eens Troje lag, 2015 Leeuwarden.