The imagined phoenicians in Homer's Odyssey

Yuyen Chang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Article peer-review

1 Scopus citations


About 700 BCE, thanks a lot to the frequent contact with the Eastern world an important breakthrough took place in Greek arts and cultures, thereby introducing a new move of the Greek Renaissance or the orientalizing revolution. Numerous instances of Phoenician ships and craftsmanship can be readily found in Homer's epics and often come to serve as substantial exemplars for the Orientalism. However, the Odyssey belongs to an epic tradition of large-scale heroic poetry and aims to relate a fictive world of the heroic past, although the present of the epics is precisely the period about 750-550 BCE, the time when the new cultural and social trends were in the process of formation. The stories in the Odyssey, at most, provide a virtual reality and a real fiction, which can open a unique window to understand the profound impact brought about through the interaction with Phoenicians. Integral to the question of the imagined Phoenicians is the construction of a symbolic connection with the Other, which is of considerable significance in the configuration of Greek identity. Furthermore, apart from the Phoenician alphabets, diverse examples such as purple colors, date palms, and silver bowls indeed exemplify how part of the Phoenician culture may well turn out to be instilled into Greek daily life.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-64
Number of pages22
JournalTamkang Review
Issue number1
StatePublished - 01 12 2017


  • Greekness
  • Odyssey
  • Orientalism
  • Phoenicians
  • other


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