This is the sequel to the story of Troy in ancient Greece-“The Odyssey” written by Homer. “Odyssey” is full of bold imagination and fictional plots. However, scientists don’t think this is a pure mythology, removing the fantasy and exaggeration in the story. These stories actually reflect some real adventures of ancient sailors. Now, let us take a look at the magical plants, animals, and demons in Homer’s eyes. What are they?
The strong north wind caused Odysseus’s fleet to deviate from the path and went to the coast of the Lotofagans. At that time, the Lotofagans were holding a grand National Convention. Odysseus and his teammates were solemnly received. With warm hospitality, the Luotophagans held out their favorite fruit and flowers of the Wangyou tree, and invited the sailors to taste it. Unexpectedly, the sailors who ate the Wangyou fruit had forgotten their sorrow and were in a trance. In a comatose state, I hope to stay there forever, no way, Odysseus can only force them onto the boat.
So, what is this kind of reluctant worrying fruit? Considering that the Wangyouguo described by Homer is sweeter than honey in taste, some people have put forward a speculation-it may be a kind of fruit called Junqianzi. Junqianzi is a deciduous tree in the Persimmon family. The mature fruit is commonly known as “persimmon”. Persimmon is a yellow round fruit with juicy flesh and very sweet. The English name of Jun Qianzi, Diospy-roslotus, is very similar to the name lotus described by Homer, and it was also distributed in the mountains along the Mediterranean coast at that time. We can guess that for Odysseus and the sailors, after 9 days of wandering at sea, the warm hospitality and sweet fruits really fascinated them. However, delicious fruits are obviously not good enough to make sailors not want to go home.
Therefore, American paleontologists believe that this legendary fruit should not only taste sweet, but should also have a narcotic effect and make people intoxicated. In real life, there really is such a miraculous fruit, that is, jujube lotus. This is a Rhamnaceae plant originating in the Mediterranean region. The height of the tree can reach 2 to 5 meters, the leaves are 5 cm long, and the mature fruits are dark yellow stone fruits with a diameter of 1 to 1.5 cm. In Greek mythology, the jujube lotus is the prototype of the forget-you-worry tree. In fact, modern medicine has also confirmed that the jujube lotus fruit can play a narcotic effect and affect the human spirit. The sailors who ate the fruit were dizzy and still It’s really possible that you don’t want to go home.
In search of supplies, Odysseus and his crew boarded Sicily and accidentally entered a huge cave where Polyphemus’ lair was located. Polyphemus was the son of Poseidon, the god of the sea. He was a cyclops. What’s more terrifying was that he could eat people. When he found Odysseus and his gang, he brutally fell to death and devoured several of Odysseus’s companions, and shut the others in the cave. In the end, Odysseus pierced the only eye of the Cyclops with a sharpened olive stump and managed to escape by hiding in the belly of the sheep. So, in real life, what kind of animal would a Cyclops be?
Vertebrates with one eye are very rare. In mammals, Cyclops is a congenital disease that can cause complications related to the brain, nose, and respiratory system, which means that few Cyclops can survive. However, fossils of ancient creatures may provide some clues. They are the skulls of mammoths and dwarf elephants.
Today elephants are mainly distributed in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. However, in ancient times, when the sea level in the Mediterranean became low, the 10-ton, 4-meter-high paleodontic elephant might have reached various islands in the Mediterranean from the mainland, and then limited by space and food, this elephant slowly became smaller. , Became a dwarf elephant, and basically all became extinct by the time of Greek civilization. To this day, there are still dwarf elephant skeleton fossils on many islands in the Mediterranean.
Although mammoths are rare on the islands of the Mediterranean, their fossils have also been found in caves on Crete and Sardinia. Because the nostrils of the skulls of mammoths and dwarf elephants occupies most of the skull, they may be mistaken for cyclops, and the fossils of these elephants are surrounded by mammalian bones. In the eyes of the ancients, this Perhaps it was the bones of the victims eaten by the Cyclops.
The stumbled Odysseus and his party have now come to Aiyo Island, where the witch Circe lives on this island. Circe is good at using medicine and often secretly puts medicine in the food to turn enemies and those who oppose her into monsters. . The sailors of Odysseus were really fooled. After eating the food prepared by Circe, they found that they had become pigs. Of course the wise Odysseus was not fooled. He ate a kind of sacred grass given to him by Hermes, the god of herding, to counteract the magic of Circe.
So, what kind of medicine did the witch Circe use to make these people think they had become monsters? Botanists believe that eating mandala may cause such effects. Datura contains toxic alkaloids, which can prevent neurotransmitter transmission in the brain. After people are taken, it will cause hallucinations, delusions and amnesia. This may be the reason why these aquatic people have strange hallucination experiences. So, what would Odysseus eat?
Homer’s description of this holy grass is very detailed: this holy grass has black roots and white flowers. But such plants are not special in terms of “appearance”. However, based on its ability to counteract the drugs developed by the girl, researchers believe that Xuedihua is the most likely.
Snowdrop flower is a plant native to the area, containing galantamine substances, which can offset the toxins of Datura. After Odysseus eats it, he naturally does not fear the magic of witches. At present, because the composition of Xuedihua can help balance the chemicals in the brain, it is now commonly used to treat Alzheimer’s disease.
After defeating the witch Circe, the sailors continued to sail. This time when their ship passed through a narrow passage, they encountered a more terrifying opponent-the siren who devoured the sailor Skula, Skula Her appearance is very scary. Her upper body is a female image, similar to a mermaid. There are 6 dog heads on the waist, each head has 3 rows of sharp teeth and a long neck, and 12 arms (some people say it is 12 dog-like legs) hanging from the waist.
Some people think that Skula should be a giant squid, and the squid’s tentacles are exaggeratedly said to be Skula’s head and arms. However, in the Mediterranean Sea, giant squids are very rare. In addition, the mythical Skura lives in a mountainside cave on a cliff. It is impossible for marine species to live here.
Biologically, there are indeed animals with multiple heads. This phenomenon occurs because the embryo is damaged, which leads to cell replication, which makes the animal grow two heads, or the cell fusion phenomenon, which causes the parts of the two individual organs to be connected together. . Individual polycephaly is very rare in humans, but it is more common in reptiles. Aristotle recorded a double-headed snake in 350 BC. The oldest surviving polyhead fossil is a lizard embryo from the Cretaceous period found in China. Therefore, Skula may be a multi-headed animal that can live in the sea and crawl on land. So, what kind of animal can be lucky enough to be the banshee described by Homer?
In Greek mythology, Skula turned out to be a beautiful mountain goddess. The witch Circe was jealous of her beauty. When Skula took a bath, she put the terrible magic snake into the water and made it a part of her body. Therefore, Skoura is probably a mythical image created by Homer who mixed the legend of a multi-headed animal with a snake. So, is there any historical evidence to prove this?
In Europe, snakes were used as biological weapons. The ancient Greeks in Sicily, Italy, used spotted sand pythons to sacrifice or throw people into the Strait of Messina to disrupt enemy ships. In the myth, the Strait of Messina is the strait guarded by Skula.
Speaking of Skoura, we have to mention Charubdis. These two monsters almost blocked the entire Strait of Messina. Calebdis is the daughter of the sea god Poseidon and the earth goddess Gaia. It has a huge mouth. It swallows a large amount of seawater three times a day, and then spit the seawater back into the sea. All passing ships cannot escape being engulfed by her. The fate of being destroyed in the mouth. Therefore, Odysseus and his crew had to avoid Charybdis, because no ship could only pass by this monster.
Until the 19th century, the nautical chart also marked the location of the Khalubdis. So, is there really a monster like Charybdis in the world? In fact, Calebdis is just Homer’s exaggerated description of a natural phenomenon, which is the maelstrom of the Strait of Messina.
The Strait of Messina is located between the Italian peninsula and Sicily and is an important sea passage. In the strait, the northward tide meets the southward tide, and the place where they meet will form a turbulent vortex. In addition, there are many reefs in the Strait of Messina, which will intensify the chaos. Now, there is a relatively large vortex in the Strait of Messina, called the Great Whirlpool of Callubdis, which is exactly where the Sea Monster of Callubdis on the ancient map appeared.
Cattle of the sun god
After leaving the sea monster vortex, Odysseus and the remaining crew came to an island where many sacred cows lived. This is where the sun god grazes the sacred cows. However, when the crew is hungry, they still hide from Odder. Hughes killed a cow to eat. This behavior aroused the wrath of the sun god, the sun god destroyed the ship and all the sailors with thunder and lightning, only Odysseus survived.
Scholars believe that the island where this myth happened is Sicily in Italy. Fossil evidence there shows that in the Neolithic Age, people here had started to graze domesticated cattle, and many European bisons lived here.
The European bison is the largest herbivore in Europe. It has a very large body. The adult European bison is 2.9 meters long, 1.8 to 1.95 meters tall at the shoulder, and weighs 600 to 1000 kilograms. Their wide foreheads and large horns on their heads also Meets the image of a god cow described by Homer.
At the same time, in the 6th century AD, before Greek currency was used on this small island, like other pastoral societies, cattle were the main symbol of wealth on this small island. If someone steals cattle, they will be severely punished by the cattle owner. This kind of story archetype, exaggerated by Homer, turned into the story of the god cow in the “Odyssey”.