“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.