13.- “URSA” (THE FEMALE BEAR ) OR “POLE STAR”,
ALWAYS TO THE LEFT
Probably to avoid that Odysseus was engulfed by the whirl of Maelström, Calypso recommended him to navigate at the beginning of the spring when the Pleiades hide at dusk, taking always the “Pole Star” to the left of his ship, star whom Homer called “Bear”, to be guided later by Arcturus that takes long to appear, Song V, v. 271-277. See Fig. 5.
5.-Occultation of the Pleiades and rising of Arcturus.
I think that the concise reference by Homer to the female bear can have its origin in old Nordic legends for that, that “it rotates on itself”, a thing that the animal she–bear does when it detects the vent of the burrow of a seal with its breeding. It is known that the she-bear looks for eagerly the seal breeding because its fat is the most efficient to be quickly transformed into milk with which to breast-feed her bear cubs.
For the right link, he added that it is the same one denominated the “Chariot” by others and that it is the only she-bears never takes a bath in the sea. He used clearly a simple play on words.
Because of the fact that the later Greeks did not know to the white polar she-bears and their hunting techniques, they invented the constellation of the Ursa Major that obviously does not “rotate on itself” because it is not at the center of the vault of heaven.
I think that the tradition told by Homer mentioned to that mother she-bear that rotates on herself, watched over with concern the horizon for fear that the male bear that strolls among the bovines to feed of their calves, could try to kill the cubs that she was breastfeeding.
It is known that mother she-bear her she does not rut while she raises her offspring, reason why the male bear does not hesitate to kill the puppies with the purpose of satisfying his sexual instincts. From here that the expression Ox-driver or “Bootes” did not mention to the one that guides the oxen but to a bear that marauds among the auroch cattles for hunting its offsprings. This reference to the male bear or “Arktos” gave origin to “Arkturos.
The best evidence for this thesis was supplied by Callimachus in his jambic verses, on keeping the tradition of that Thales of Miletus would have been who introduced in Greece the knowledge of that the Phoenician used the Chariot or the Bear as guide of navigation. Callimachus was quoted by Diogenes Laertius. .”
When Calypso informed Odysseus about his liberation by order of Zeus and that he himself should have to build a (“skhedie”) or light craft, without expecting help from anybody, Odysseus could think that as skilled carpenter he could build a small ship in a short time able to transport him and his supplies by taking advantage of the stern wind promised by Calypso.
For these effects, he took four days to cut twenty firs that are coniferous of straight and high shaft, light and easy to work to be because by means of wedges, they are broken along by following the vein easily.
Chango in his Catamaran
I estimate that Odysseus could built a craft similar to those that we today know under the name of “catamaran” and that they are used from very old times in the Indian Ocean and resembling to the two inflated sea-dog skins united by thin beams that the Changos, pre-Columbian fishermen of the desertic coasts of the Northern regions of Chile, used for catching the conger-eels that they then salted. For that, it would have been necessary to trim two trunks that served as floats, taking care to bark them and to round their ends that they could act as curved prows susceptible to be lifted by the waves with easily. With the thinnest firs, he should have worked the planks that would form the deck once tied together to the previous ones by means of strong pegs adjusted in the prepared holes by means of the drill.
He completed his rigging by means of a wicker lattice that avoided that the waves sprinkled it when exploding against his boat and he inserted a light mast able to resist the pressure of a square sail bolstered by means of solid leather ropes. A solid oar, as a rudder, prevented that the boat was dragged to the cliffs of the coast.
I estimate that the frame built by Odysseus could not be a raft like those used to cross rivers and driven by the current of these, all time that the hydraulic dynamics of the current of the river is entirely different from the waves of the sea.
If Odysseus has put together ten trunks by means of wooden
chunks ,it would have been a body of absolute rigidity that the waves with
their ups and downs would have destroyed it almost immediately. Thor Heyerdahl
built the raft “Kon-Tiki” by binding the trunks by means of vegetable ropes so
that these could move with certain independence when the waves cross under the
Generally, on the coasts, good ports are scarce, so that in the first times the trade was made by disembarking the merchandise in the inhabited beaches.
For this, it was necessary crafts of almost plane bottom, in a manner that the keel was not an obstacle for it. This is the reason for which the Phoenicians usually sailed near the coast and not because they had only been able to navigate to oar as ingeniously it has been supposed.
In this chapter we want to explain how the Phoenicians could sail in high sea guided by the stars and driven many times against the wind. So that the ship advances almost in contrary sense to the force of the wind, it is necessary to place the sail in oblique sense and to have a keel that prevent the lateral deviation of the craft.
The best evidence that the Phoenicians were able to sail in high sea and against the wind, we can find it in the enclosed drawing of a Phoenician ship “drawn by L. Haffner according to the painting of a Theban sarcophagus of the XIIIth dynasty (toward 1500 B. C.)” and taken from the “Universal History of the Explorations”, by Nougier and Beaujeu, Espasa-Calpe, 1967. See fig. 6.
6.-Sri Lankan Catamaran
In this drawing a very light structure made with a wicker lattice that goes from prow to stern is observed clearly that once lowered, it can be submerged and make, in parallel form to the ship, the times of a lateral keel, reason why it should be placed to leeward for the purposes of preventing the ship being pushed sideways by the wind. This construction would make the same effect that the slight outrigger used in the crafts of the Polynesians. Homer had to refer to a wicker lattice, similar to mentioned drawing, in Odyssey, V, 256.