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by Alfred de Grazia




Great myths are the stories of human tragedy on a grand scale. If mankind no longer exists in an age of myth, it is not because of a new intelligence or style but because of the lack of terrible stimulus. Even so, the ages of myth-making have left a legacy of serious problems. One does relive the ancient terrors; they have left deep tracks in minds and glands, regularly revived by a horde of customs and rememorized. Furthermore, man is a myth-maker and he will always find sufficient personal and social crises to inspire individual and collective repressions of memory, though not on the original grand scale.


Earlier, we decided to place Homer's "publication" of the Odyssey around 630 B. C., two generations after the end of the Martian catastrophes. We mentioned in another place that amnesia can set in abruptly following a grave event and the sublimation of the troublesome subconscious memory could be accomplished quickly as well. We alluded to nursery rhymes based upon atrocious political acts for an example.

Still, the question gnaws at us: "Did Homer really not known of the disasters of the century before him?"

The catastrophist reaches, all too easily at times, for the "proof by non-existent proof," which comes close to begging the question. Thus, physical and biological destruction, if complete, makes memory non-existent, therefore impossible. Psychic destruction (total amnesia) also makes proof impossible in the sense that the remembering mind cannot remember any of the events one is called upon to remember. Total Psychic Destruction and/ or Total Physical Destruction equals Zero Proof, hence zero recall of the catastrophic events. We have advanced in these pages and elsewhere many conditions approaching the Zero Proof formula, but never has history been totally obstructed. Therefore Homer must have had some means of knowing the catastrophic events of two generations earlier, even in his childhood.

We now can suppose that he did remember terrific destruction and social turmoil, directly or through his elders. Why would these memories not enter into his work directly? Why would he not attach the Greek gods (except Helios, the Sun), to their sky-bodies?

In the first place, he would not dare to or wish to tie the gods explicitly to their bodies. The gods were much more than the bodies, much older than the events in which they acted, and hostile to presumptions (hubris) of humans about them. Homer and other dramatists might also have agreed to a convention not to portray the gods in this manner.

On the subconscious level, Homer may have written of the gods in such a way as to display their natural histories, even knowing of their history in some part and consciously, without realizing that he was writing the history of the gods. He could describe Ares as Ares, actually appreciating that he was doing so, protesting (as writers accused of libel or of autobiography sometimes do), "I am only writing fiction," and furthermore they will believe it and so will their hearers.

This is no more than happens with children, who, in their play, will often reenact disagreeable experiences with cruel attendants or playmates in a comic or brutal scenario with toys, and, when questioned, will sincerely deny that they were reenacting the real experiences. I need only mention similar and well known behavior among persons who are mentally ill. Nor need I discuss again the technology of dreams, whereby the dreamer translates the experience into a detailed representation, which he may promptly forget, or he is unable to retranslate into real terms, or which he may refuse in either event to accept as connected with his experience.

We conclude that, behaving typically, Homer could know both subconsciously and to a degree consciously of a horrendous history, could rewrite the history as poetry, could refuse to make explicit connections that would be obviously revealing, and could deny that his story was historical. "How can you doubt me," we hear Demodocus and Homer crying, "am I not blind?" There is no end to the self-deception and deceptiveness of the schizoid human.


Scientific theories are metaphors that, when pursued, place their users into a position of control and prediction. Scientific theories are also consensuses in as much as they cannot be communicated or believed, much less worked out and routinized, unless a number of competent persons accept them as a basis for conducting operations.

Modern science has made great efforts to put aside, first, the primitive metaphoric systems such as are found in the myth we are studying, second, the mystic metaphorism, though much more agreeable, of Pythagoreanism and Platonism, and, third, though with great reluctance, the empirical nominalism of Aristotle and of the Newtonian Laws.

Now it moves uncertainly on a stripped-down linguistic and mathematical basis, purely operational and denotative, so far as particular small areas are concerned. Ironically , the bigger the library and the greater the equipment of a university or research center, the more likely the scientists in it will be utterly specialized and isolated from each other's group. Their metaphors will communicate with the smallest number of persons.

Then it happens that many chasms are created which no one dare approach and the bridges over these chasms become and will remain forever the operational constructions of metaphor.

Pythagoras and his associates, who flourished early in the sixth century B. C., give us a crucial lesson in the transformation of "true myth" into "false science". We say that until the 7th century (687 B. C.), the planets moved erratically from time to time. This fact was known to "pre-scientific" Greeks. Planos, the root word, means leading astray, cheating, deceiving; a wandering, roaming, straying; (metaphorically a wandering of mind), a madness, in uncertain fits (of disease). (These all from Liddell-Scott Greek-English Lexicon.) Wanderer meant as Odysseus wandered - without knowing what would happen next. (And, of course, Odysseus, complemented by his mentor, Athena, is the greatest deceiver, the trickiest of men, "the born trouble-maker.")

The eminent historian of science, George Sarton, says that Pythagoras aimed to prove that the planets were not "planets". He points out that "as their Greek names implied; planaò means to cause to wander, to mislead; planètès is a wandering, erratic, misleading body." [1] To Pythagoras, " the planets cannot be 'errant' bodies; they must have circular and uniform movements of their own.. If one could not but analyze those complicated motions they would be reduced to uniform circular ones . The whole of Greek astronomy grew out of that arbitrary conviction." [2]

We begin to perceive what happened. Even though Sarton sees the origins of Pythagorean astronomy in an idée fixe - that heavenly bodies must move regularly and circularly, he believes that his arbitrary idea had a true result- namely to "discover" that the planets do have such motions.

Hence, astronomers and public now agree that, as the contemporary popularizer Asimov puts it, "the Greek astronomers realized that there must be more than one canopy. For while the 'fixed' stars moved around the Earth in a body apparently without changing their relative positions; this was not true of the Sun, Moon, and five bright starlike objects (Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn)- in fact, each moved in a separate path. These seven bodies were called planets (from a Greek word meaning 'wanderer'..." [3] .

So the word "planet" means "wanderer" but wanderer on a path, a contradiction in terms. Pythagoras asserted their paths to be regular. We know that they have been so, since then.

Two events have occurred. The first is that the planets, which were originally named correctly, have stopped acting so as to deserve their name. Pythagoras denounced the meaning of the name and postulated their orderly movement. Modern astronomers accepted his meaning and introduced their order on top of his order.

Pythagoras indeed was far more anxious than they to reduce the planets to order. He was obsessively concerned with the development of all abstractions in accord with fixed formulas. Not content with abstraction, he founded a secret society to contain his truths and avert public examination. Propelled by "the Great Fear," he led the search for absolutes of order, a search that led Plato less than a century later to propose imprisonment in a "House of Better Judgement," and even death for those who would deny the immutability and harmony of the heavens.

Laplace is regarded as the founder of the science of probability. Writing two centuries ago, he disposed of the providential hand that Newton had postulated to set the solar system in orderly motion and maintain it. Order there was, declared Laplace, but it may be explained as originating in natural causes and as preserving itself by regular motions whose disruption was quite unlikely.

However, he declared, in passages rarely quoted, the probability of a comet striking the earth in the course of centuries is great and its result could be devastating if the comet were very large [4] . Besides, he warned that his own calculations, reinforcing Newton's conception of regularity in the movements of the orbs, did not take into account "various causes that can be ascertained by careful analysis, but which are impossible to frame within a calculation;" such would be comets, meteors, and even electric and magnetic forces. "The sky itself, despite the orderliness of its movements, is not unalterable." So spoke Laplace.

However, because the heavens have "settled down" in recent millennia, major displacements and encounters are increasingly unlikely. The celestial encounters of 2700 years ago may have been the last for some time to come.

In 1974, Robert W. Bass went beyond this self-critique of Laplace into a critique of Laplace's famous calculations of stability for the solar system [5] . Instead of confirming the practical immutability of the planetary motions, Bass emerged in agreement with W. M. Smart's thesis that the theoretical term of assured reliability of the planetary orbits is in the hundreds or few thousands of years. The fabric of mathematical "proof" of the orderly skies has been torn to shreds.


When the lines of the Love Affair were read, of a summer day on the island of Naxos in July of 1968, the hypothesis of this book sprang to life. Nowhere, whether in writing or in conversation, had I come upon a parallel between the song and external events. Nor, for that matter, had there ever been, to my knowledge, a predecessor to the story itself in ancient times. Overtime, the means of providing theory occurred in three forms, each depending upon a number of theories, techniques and facts.

One method would be to draw up all parallelisms (and lacks thereof) between the Love Affair and the celestial disasters that contemporary quantavolutionists, particularly Velikovsky, had described as occurring around the time of Homer. This has been done and a close parallelism discovered.

A second method would be to translate the myth by psychological and linguistic theories into a set of events that would most closely adhere to the characters, setting, dynamics (plot), and language of the myth. This has been done and the set of events that was most satisfying to the myth was the aforesaid catastrophic period of encounters among Mars, Earth, Venus and Moon.

The third method would be to search for the effects of the events, both upon human behavior and the cosmic bodies involved. The human avenue led into a stream of effects that has been accumulating from previous disasters; indications of collective behavior expected under the circumstances of the Greek disaster were also found. In the geologic and astrophysical areas, recent explorations of all three extra-terrestrial bodies, together with revised theories of cataclysmic changes on earth, tended to confirm the historicity of the Love Affair. As Isaac Newton would say, "To the same natural effects we must as far as possible assign the same causes." [6] The probability of the theory as a whole being correct is enhanced by the concordance of the three results of the three methods. One should remain critical, however because in each area of method, theories are being developed and employed that are controversial, and also because in each methodological area, much less than an "ideal" amount of factual material is available.

Also this study attempted to do what Laplace avoided doing, to introduce many factors whose quantification for the purposes of a calculus of probabilities was impossible. Considering the confusion of theories and the onrush of incompatible facts in every related area of knowledge, it may appear to have done rather well.

From time to time, in the course of research, a question would return to haunt the author: suppose that an older version of the Love Affair were to be discovered.

If there were a predecessor to the Love Song of Demodocus, it would be Homer's work, a work well known to Homer, and/ or a fable known to other contemporary cultures or preceding ones. Thus far, none has appeared. However, the effects of such a hypothetical discovery would be considerable. It would undercut my logical insistence that this particular plot is a screen for historical events of the early seventh century.

Almost certainly "love triangles" were observed and caused trouble for millennia before Homer. For that matter, walruses and apes snorted and grunted their way through similar affairs. Adultery found itself condemned under laws that were promulgated before Homeric times; Deuteronomy bans it, and also Genesis. Depending upon the culture, the emotions evoked by such triangles might be no less than the outrage of Hephaestus. The fearfulness of earlier catastrophes may have helped to build up the emotions. So the preconditions of the particular plot- the triangle and the emotional charge - were known and diffused.

In order to nullify the theory, however, the structure of the pre-existing plot would need to be closely parallel, and analogous gods would need to participate in it. An Egyptian creation myth, much older than "the Love Affair," has a marriage between the Sun (Re) and the Heaven god (Nut, Roman Uranus) that is disturbed by copulation between Heaven and Earth (Geb). The Sun forbids Heaven giving birth to children during the year (360 days), but clever Thoth (Mercury) gambles with the Moon for Time, wins 1/ 72 part of the day, and hands over to Heaven five extra days (365) in which to give birth, whereupon Heaven bore Osiris (Saturn), Horus (Jupiter), Set, Isis, and Nephthys (the last three Venus-connected) on 5 successive days. Many events are incorporated here, but the major characters are from an earlier age and the plot is not analogous or homologous with the plot of "The Love Affair".

Respecting divine participation in Genesis, God does intervene against Abimelech to prevent his consummation of a relationship with Abraham's wife, Sarah, whom he has taken in god faith and with the consent of Abraham. It is plausible that other plots of adultery of a historical and fictional character, involving deities, should have existed.

There is no reason to believe that Homer had written (as Patroni insists) or knew of an original Opera Ballet of the Love Affair, parallel to the plot found in the Odyssey, and including the same gods as characters. The details of the story of the song are stuck off so firmly that a complete version resounds from behind the lines. Assuming that Homer or another had presented the Opera Ballet before, would this fact preclude a late dating of the underlying historical catastrophe? I think not, if it is in the same generation, and especially if it were the work of a younger Homer. Hence, the haunting question can be answered by a denial: this certain plot probably did not exist before the celestial events that it represents in disguise took place.


If it is true that mankind suffers infinitely from the gods, it has become human because of them. They are in a sense, then, entitled to do with man what they will. As the old-fashioned property-owner used to say: "It's my property. I can dispose of it as I please." Many will assert that man would have been better off without the gods. No. This is a materialistic, mechanical view of human origins and human nature, more in keeping with tight suppression of memory and uniformitarian ideology, than with the lessons of catastrophe. Man was created by catastrophes and made to some degree what he is by them. This is a point on which pragmatists, phenomenologists, and idealists may agree.

But - it is more doubtful that the species would have become human if it had not humanized the gods. It is almost impossible to conceive that humans would have become humanly intelligent if they had been physiologically capable of experiencing the disasters mechanically, "in cold blood". They could have forgotten the disasters more easily over the generations. They would not have developed the arts and sciences. That is, there are few, if any, grounds for believing that they could have become scientific before they had passed through a stage of being monstrously human.

If people are able now to become "rational" and view ancient catastrophes and natural history as truly natural, it is only because they did not have the capacity for viewing events as natural in the first place.

The first humanoid who pointed at an active natural force with a capacity to impress a whole people and said: "There is our god. He made us and is now sending us a message" - that humanoid became the first person.

After the dreamtime dance and song of the Love Affair ends, and the dance of the spheres completes the ceremony, a peaceful and generous mood pervades the audience. King Alcinous announces that all the nobles must give fine personal gifts to Ulysses. This they do: cloaks and tunics and bars of gold. Euryalus, who has slandered Ulysses, gave the best gift of all, a gleaming copper sword with a silver belt in an ivory sheath. All these are heaped before the visitor. A hot bath is prepared for him and preparations for dinner are made.

I allude to these lines to stress once more the effects of the dance. The sublimation of unconscious effect has been well-nigh perfect. The ancients who heard these passages would imagine the full and blissful original scene, the way in which a sacred song and dance should ideally be conducted, the effects upon the participants and audience that should ideally occur.

This no one may deny. All that may be said by way of criticism is that such is the intent and result of great literature, of music, of dance, of plastic art, of liturgies, indeed of all constructive crowd behavior whose aim is social internalization. In the group, an anxiety is present whose specifications are hidden for fear of their depressive and disruptive effects. A spell must be cast; the symptoms will be displaced, discussed and alleviated; and everyone will feel better afterwards.

Objectively one can appraise the effect; it is good therapy; people are kinder to each other; possible alternative means of handling the anxieties are rendered unnecessary. Amidst the frequent crowd panic and madness of the Iliad and the Odyssey, of the Bible, of aggressive, ritualized, stupefied, and senseless self-sacrifice and others sacrifice, the Song of Demodocus in its context, for all that the gods misbehave, is superior therapy.

It is well that those ancient censors who called the story false and sacrilegious and would have ripped it out of the Odyssey did not have their way. This is said, not alone on behalf of many bored and salacious schoolboys, not even for the sake of Truth, but for the realization it can bring of how ancient cultures, no less than primitive and modern ones, strove for alternatives to the labyrinthine rites, collective murder and bloody offerings by which societies sought to extirpate the hidden anxieties of catastrophe.

The present age is fraught with anxiety; still it has not reached the levels of our ancestral disasters. Up to this moment, the settled skies have allowed scientists and poets in free countries to move ever more boldly in exploration of the world within and the world without. The most radical investigations of nature and human nature have been permitted. The most radical experiments in the expressive arts have been tolerated. It is no longer true that the human mind cannot face, at least intermittently and "for the record," the evidence of ancient catastrophes. On this account one may predict that, within a few years, much more proof than is presently available will be collected and advanced in favor of the general theory of quantavolution and catastrophes and that the theoretical reconstruction will proceed apace.

When Odysseus is about to complete the slaughter of the suitor's relatives, Athena gives him pause: enough of bloodshed [7] . And when Eurycleia caught sight of the slain suitors in the palace hall, "she was about to cry out in exultation, beholding so great a deed. But Odysseus restrained her... 'Rejoice in your heart, old woman, and restrain yourself and do not cry aloud. It is an unholy thing to glory over slain men. These men the destiny of the gods and their own merciless deeds have overcome. '" [8]

The Hero resigns. The Moon is in place. The Goddess Athena is in her heavenly sphere. And Mars in his. Mercy begins once more.

And 2500 years later, the philosopher, Immanuel Kant, writes: "Two things fill the mind with ever-increasing wonder and awe, the more often and the more intensely one's thoughts are drawn to them: the starry heavens above me and the moral law within me " [9] .

Notes (Chapter 17: Settled Sky and Unsettled Mind)

1. History of Science, V. I, op. cit., p. 13.

2. Ibid.

3. An Intelligent Man's Guide to Science, p. 17.

4. Stecchini, p. 107.

5. "Did Worlds Collide," and "Proofs of the Stability of the Solar System," IV Pensée (1974), 8-20, and 21-6.

6. Principia, Bk. III, Chap. V.

7. Even if someone later than Homer wrote these last lines of the Odyssey (D. Page, op. cit.) and they lack poetic merit, their moral function is apparent.

8. Rieu trans., Is. 411-17.

9. Quoted by Stecchini, op. cit., p. 44.

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