Carved in Stone
The Odyssey is a major ancient Greek poem that many of us know because we had to read it in high school or college. It tells the story of Odysseus and his many adventures. Many people learn about The Odyssey in school because it is one of the oldest pieces of Western literature that still exists today.
The actual story was told through word of mouth by Homer until it gained so much popularity that ancient Greeks decided to start writing it down. Once they started writing it down there was no stopping it. Hundreds of versions of the Odyssey have been recorded and set in stone (or paper). It is one of the most used pieces of literature in schools today. Many written versions of The Odyssey have been found in the past but researchers think they just found the oldest one.
Archeologists believe that they have found the oldest-ever Greek copy of the poem. This copy is so old that it was written down on something that came before paper….clay. The time-worn slab of stone contains 13 verses of the poem which talks about the return of Ulysses to his home a the end of his journey.
The Oldest Copy of the Odyssey
Researchers believe the slab dates back to the 3rd century CE and contains 13 verses of the poem. The slab was discovered after 3 years of work between the Greek Archaeological Services agency and the German Institute of Archeology in Olympia, Greece. This date makes the stone the oldest written record of the epic poem found.
Because of its unique use of a non-linear plot and a variety of characters, The Odyssey has had a giant impact on Western literature. The first printed version (not handwritten) copy of the poem was produced during the late 15th century in Greek. It wasn’t until 1616 when the first English translation was printed and pressed.
Many other story plot lines have been inspired by the Odyssey and remade to reflect more modern times. The Coen brothers film O Brother, Where Art Thou? is just one on these examples.
Until the suspected date of the slab is confirmed, we’ll be on the edge of our seats. It might be a while so feel free to take the time until then to brush up on The Iliad and read some ancient Greek poetry!