Field Notes from the Odyssey: The Fabulous Ethnography of Aiolie, Aiaie, and Ogygie


  • Ioannis Petropoulos Harvard University



Ethnography, Odyssey, Islands imaginary, Island as metaphor, 'Ethnographic savage'


Odysseus’ ethnographic digressions in books 9-12 of the Odyssey—the so-called Apologue—have served as the premier paradigm for mythic and actual ethnography from Herodotus through Marco Polo and Christopher Columbus, and more particularly, for the ‘I-witnessing approach’ of ethnography. Among the peoples and lands and styles of thinking he encountered (Odyssey 1.3), the hero also became acquainted with several islands. As microcosms of larger societies, islands furnish ‘master metaphors’ and models with which to think about culture. In this article I discuss three islands from the Apologue in the chronological order of Odysseus’ travels. They are inseparable from their geography and the personality and ‘life style’ of their inhabitants, as will be seen; these islands adumbrate the moral and gendered mythic cartography of Archaic Greece.


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Biografia do Autor

Ioannis Petropoulos, Harvard University

Dept. of Greek Philology, Democritus University of Thrace, Komotini, Greece & Harvard University, Center for Hellenic Studies-Greece, Nafplion.


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Como Citar

Petropoulos, I. (2021). Field Notes from the Odyssey: The Fabulous Ethnography of Aiolie, Aiaie, and Ogygie. Mare Nostrum, 12(2), 1-18.