THE GATES OF HORN AND IVORY: A GEOGRAPHICAL MYTH
Journal Title: Studia Litterarum - Year 2016, Vol 1, Issue 3
The articles proposes a new interpretation of the Homeric myth of the gates of horn and ivory that occurs in Book 19 of the Odyssey. It frst argues that horn (the material of the southern gate in neoplatonic commentaries) can be found in the sign of Capricornus. More complex is the argument that also ivory (the material of the northern gate in neoplatonic commentaries) is derived from astronomical myths: the myths discussed are the myth of Adonis (beginning with the story about the ivory statue carved by Pygmalion), the myths of the Erymanthian, the Calydonian, and the Ephesian boars, the myth of Orion, and the myth of the constellation ursa major. An enquiry into the occurance of ivory in Greek mythology leads to the hypothesis that the constellation ursa major was identifed with a boar (with ivory tusks). The hypothesis implies that the gates of horn and ivory were already at the times of Homer understood as an astronomical myth that described the northernmost and southernmost points of the sky.
Authors and Affiliations
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