The UFO Iconoclast(s)

Monday, October 10, 2011

Odyssey of the Gods by Erich von Däniken

Erich von Däniken’s newest entry in his ancient astronaut oeuvre deals with Greek myth, and his conjectures are as novel as ever.

He posits that Greek mythology is rife with hints of extraterrestrial visitation, and the Greek gods were, actually (and not surprisingly), aliens from other worlds in the Universe; gods or entities that intervened in Greek history and promulgated the myths and stories that most of us are familiar with.

I have been a von Däniken junkie since his Chariots of the Gods.

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A friend of mine, a college professor at Michigan State University, scoffed at my acceptance of von Däniken’s “theories” but he gave Chariots to his English students and found them to be as entranced by von Däniken’s views as I was and am (still).

Sure, I understand that anthropologists, historians, and other scholars think von Däniken’s books and ideas are loony, but I find the von Däniken hypotheses to be intriguingly enlightened, and supported by circumstantial evidence that von Däniken has amassed and presents in his books, including this new one.

Several pages of crisp photographs, included together in the middle of the book, show readers what von Däniken is referring to in the text.

This is de rigueur for the author, and all his books provide clear examples of what he’s describing in his copy.

For Odyssey, which opens with a protracted account of the Jason and the Golden Fleece story, von Däniken compiles the Greek myths from the several sources extant, and presents those myths in a prose style that makes them cogent, although I found some interpretations of the stories to be quite different from the usual acceptable offerings: Larousse, Bulfinch, Edith Hamilton, et al.

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Von Däniken sees the fingerprints of extraterrestrials everywhere, and I don’t necessarily disagree with his insistence.

But one does have to question why extraterrestrials in the past (millennia ago) dressed like or used equipment like that of the current era(s) – the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

Why didn’t ancient astronauts dress in garb of the 1930s or 1940s or earlier – or later, much later, something futuristic as it were?

That aside, von Däniken musters views in the new book that addresses the Atlantis myth, and Plato, accordingly.

And he presents a view about the Trojans and Troy that is interesting: Atlantis was Troy or Troy was Atlantis.

A Mayan connection to the Atlantis myth and Plato’s account is covered extensively [Page 191 ff.] and is uniquely fascinating as is the case with much of von Däniken’s hypothetical offerings.

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The Heinrich Schliemann “discovery” of Troy is thorough, with a note that Schliemann apparently came to believe that he didn’t really discover Troy after all. [Page 130]

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The panoply of the Greek gods, Zeus, Athene, Hephaestus, Poseidon, among them, get a hearing and their connection to the extraterrestrial hypothesis is ratified in the usual von Däniken way. [Page 61 ff.]

The ancient computer – The Machine of Anticythera – is delineated, along with the many sites and locales revered by the early Greeks.

Page 28 of the book inserts the Babylonian tale of Oannes, which a Babylonian priest, Berossus, described [circa 350 B.C.] a creature with the attributes of a fish, and came from the sea, and taught the people how to build towns, measure lands, establish laws, and attributes of science and writing.

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(Similar tales from other cultures – the Phoenicians and Chinese – are provided also.)

A story of Jonah in the whale, that differs from the Hebrew Bible’s version, is cited: Volume III of Die Sagen der Juden (Tales of the Jews from Ancient Times). [Page 28]

Von Däniken is no scholarly slouch; he provides sources for his Greek content, the writers, poets an historians from whom we get the Greek tales: Homer, Pliny, Plutarch, Apollonius, Herodotus, et al.

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Von Däniken doesn’t just provide Greek mythology. He intersperses supplementary material from The Bible, Egyptian “history,” and accounts from Meso-America, China, and elsewhere to make his point – again, that humankind interacted with and was pushed along by extraterrestrial beings.

The 220 page book, which also includes black and white photos with those color photos noted, is $17.99 and can be bought at Amazon, Powell’s, plus every other bookstore near you I imagine.

It’s a New Page book – New Page is a division of Career Press, Pompton Plains, NJ.

More information can be found at www.newpagebooks.com or www.careerpress.com

Warwick Associates can provide more information about the author and publication:
www.warwickassociates.net

The full title of the book is Odyssey of the Gods: The History of Extraterrestrial Contact in Ancient Greece. The translation from the German is by Matthew Barton and Christian von Arnim.

If you are not a von Däniken aficionado or fan, you can still find value in this book. His presentations of the Greek myths, alone, will edify.

Any school library would do well to include this book among other Greek works in its shelves.

RR

5 Comments:

  • I'm intrigued by the Ancient Astronaut Hypothesis - but I hate von Daniken with a passion. He basically ripped off all his ideas from vastly superior books (including Morning of the Magicians by Pauwels and Bergier) and presented his ideas in the hectoring, bombastic style of a classic crank. In the seventies, his standards of scholarship (or perhaps even basic honesty) were atrocious - the first edition of Chariots of the Gods featured a picture which was alleged to be of a cave painting found near Fergana in Uezbekistan, but turned out in actuality to be a magazine illustration from, I think, 1967. Maybe he's improved over the years, but his seventies stuff was derivative and risible, imo; the idea that the Nazca lines might have been "landing strips" for space-ships is the kind of literal minded nonsense that really detracted from the credibility of the Ancient Astronaut theory.

    By Blogger Tristan Eldritch, at Monday, October 10, 2011  

  • Tristan:

    You are right to be irked by some of the von Daniken missteps.

    His overall approach, whether derivative or not, intrigues, but with the caveats you cite.

    It's those little, almost thrown away comments he makes that can lead one to pursue the idea of an outside intervention in the evolution of mankind -- an intervention that is not from a divinity or divinities.

    RR

    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Monday, October 10, 2011  

  • von Daniken and Joseph Campbell are two personal favorites of mine but their ideas seem at odds. Two completely different answers to a simple question: Why are so many of the ancient legends so very much alike when the people had no possible interaction?

    By Blogger Frank Stalter, at Monday, October 10, 2011  

  • Interesting observation Frank.

    I, too, love Joseph Campbell's views, and Erich von Daniken's hypothetical chutzpah.

    RR

    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Monday, October 10, 2011  

  • Tristan,

    What is enlightenment if not a re-learning of 'the basics', so to speak?

    In 200 years, someone will be 'ripping off' von Daniken.

    By Blogger Parakletos, at Monday, October 17, 2011  

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