The Mediterranean of the Nostoi and Lotus-Eaters

‎“For the ancient Greeks, the fall of Troy did not simply result in the collapse of the heroic ‎World of Mycenae and Pylos. It was also remembered as the moment when Greeks set out ‎to wander the Mediterranean and beyond; it was a time when sailors grappled with the ‎dangers of the open seas – animate dangers, in the form of the singing Sirens, the witch ‎Circe, the one-eyed Cyclops. The storm-tossed seas recorded in Homer’s Odyssey and in ‎other tales of heroes returning from Troy (a group of men known as the Nostoi, or ‎‎‘returners’) remained places of great uncertainty, whose physical limits were only vaguely ‎described.‎

‎(…) The aim of wanderers, whether Odysseus in the west, or Menelaos of Sparta in Libya and ‎Egypt, was, ultimately, to return home. The world beyond was full of lures, islands of lotus-‎eaters and the cave of Calypso.” – David Abulafia, The Great Sea

The history of the Mediterranean was shaped –and remains to be shaped- by travel and migration. ‎The cycle has turned though, because more than any other time, the aim of wanderers is no ‎longer to ‘return home’, but rather to leave it behind.‎ During he first 9 months of 2014, 75% of migrant mortality in the whole world occured in the Mediterranean. These people were neither wanderers nor returners. They did not have to survive the Sirens or fear the Cyclops; they had escaped a far worse enemy: human injustice; a miserable human condition.

There are no more nostoi in our Sea…only lotus-eaters.

Menelaos & Patroklis

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