Oldest verses of Homer's Odyssey discovered

The tablet is engraved with 13 verses from the poem.

Archaeologists in Greece have discovered what they believe to be the oldest known extract of Homer's epic poem The Odyssey. A clay tablet found near the ruined Temple of Zeus in the ancient city of Olympia dates back to Roman times, probably before the 3rd century AD. The exact date of the tablet still needs to be confirmed.

The tablet is engraved with 13 verses from the poem recounting the adventures of Odysseus after the fall of Troy. They are part of the 14th Rhapsody, in which the king of Ittaca addresses his lifelong friend Eumaeus. The discovery was praised as a “great archaeological, epigraphic, literary and historical exhibit,” by the Greek culture ministry statement. Excavations which lead to the discovery took three years.

The Odyssey is widely considered to be a seminal work in Western literature. The poem, spanning some 12,000 lines, tells the story of Odysseus, who spends 10 years trying to get home after the war of Troy. The tale was composed by Homer in the late 8th Century BC. It would have been handed down in an oral tradition for hundreds of years before being written down on clay or stone tablets.

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