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Homers Tomb in Ios
It is believed that Homer lived during the 8th century BC, but there is no real evidence that he has existed. Existed or not, he is known as the father of Western literature, and he is believed to have written the Odyssey and the Iliad, two of the western world's most famous literary works. You probably have the books in your bookshelf. Often they are collecting dust. They are written in hexameter which has six feet, and in my opinion it's very difficult to read.
Bust of Homer in the port of Ios.
There are a number of islands, and villages on the mainland, claiming that the poet was born on their island, or in their village. Chios, north of Samos, is considered by some to be the island where he was born. There is a rock called Daskalopetra where it is said that Homer used to sit and think. True or not, of course nobody knows. Nor does anyone know where Homer died, or where he is buried.
Daskalopetra on Chios where it is said that Homer sat and thought. It is me who thinks in the picture.
However, it is said that he died on Ios, and that he is buried there. According to the myth, Homer's mother came from Ios and he wanted to be buried on her birth island. Another story says that he wanted to be buried on Ios since he thought it was the most beautiful of all Greek islands. There are those who believe that Homer was blind, and if that is true, at least the latter theory doesn't hold water.
You have this wonderful view when you drive to Homer's tomb.
In the picture above you see Chora from a different angle than the usual one. To the left you see some of the many windmills, to the right you can see the two "chapel peaks", and a little further down in the middle of the picture you can see the excavations of the peculiar Skarkos, which is the Cyclades' largest settlement from the early Bronze Age. An interesting thing with the picture above is that there are plans to build an airport in this area in the future. I have heard about the plans for many years and I doubt that it will happen.
The barren landscape of northern Ios, where Homer's tomb
is located, is full of beehives.
Whether Homer has existed, or whether he is buried on Ios, there is a tomb near Plakotos in the northern part of Ios, which is said to be the place where Homer is buried. You must have your own vehicle to get to the tomb, there is no bus service. The first stretch of road goes through a very beautiful landscape, offering amazing views of Chora and the valley below. The landscape changes its character after a while and becomes more and more barren.
One think more of The Beatles than of Homer the last few kilometres. Is it somewhere their song The Long and Winding Road fits in, this is the place. There is nothing to see along the way, besides curves and beehives, and if you are not a Hardcore Homer Fan you can skip the tomb with a clear conscience. The tomb itself is not much to see, and it can almost be considered as an anti-climax.
Here begins the path to Homer's tomb.
When you reach the car park, you will see a path that leads to the tomb. It's quite a long walk and there is almost no shade. Bring plenty of water and a good mood. You can see the beginning of the path in the picture above, and how it continues in the picture further down. There is a sunshade halfway where you can take a breather. You can read about Homer in five different languages on the five pillars that stands at the beginning of the path.
The pillars with texts about Homer.
The path continues to Homer's tomb after the sunshade.
Given that Homer's existence is doubted, one might wonder if it's worth driving 16 kilometres just to see a pile of stones and a crushed marble board with an unreadable text. Whoever is buried here (if it's a tomb), he or she has a very nice view of the sea.
Homer's tomb. Or whatever it is?
At the car park there is a sign saying that the EU has contributed and financed the construction of a sunshade and a path to the tomb, or the road leading to the tomb, or a combination of both. I'm not sure. The price tag is € 1,100,000 and the EU has paid 85% of it. If you want value for your tax money, Homer's tomb may be worth a visit. Otherwise you might be content with a look at the bust in the port, shown in the picture at the top of this page.
Before the road to Homer's tomb was built, there were lots of rumours about the location of the tomb. There were no doubt that the grave existed. When I was on Ios in the 1980s, I met tourists who tried to find the tomb, but no one succeeded.
Party at Homer's Cave in 1985. Me on the left and Lakkis on the right.
Instead of Homer's tomb, we had fun at the bar Homer's Cave. We went there pretty much every night. I have never had as much fun in Greece as we had at that bar. Elias played really good records and Lakkis served good drinks. Unfortunately the bar is not there anymore, but I think Elias is still on Ios. Yeah, those were the days!
This is where Homer's Cave once was located.
Homer's Cave was located on the left in the picture.