Greek Moon: Greek drama as astronomical allegory





Homer the astronomer

The night sky, with its wandering planets and curtain of stars, was immeasurably more important, in practical and religious ways, to the ancients than it is to us today. In their two books Homer's Secret Iliad and Homer's Secret Odyssey, Florence and Kenneth Wood have summarised the life's work of Edna Leigh (1916-1991). Leigh found that the Iliad and Odyssey of Homer were primarily concerned, as allegory, with astronomy: that they were a means of preserving vital information about the skies in written form. You can find out more about Leigh and her work by following the link at left.

The origin of this work

Homer's technique was to yoke characters, places and events in his stories to astronomical bodies and processes. Leigh concluded that the Argive king Agamemnon represents Regulus, the alpha star of Leo. It occurred to me that it might be interesting to link the king to Regulus in Aeschylus' play Agamemnon and see if a consistent allegorical story could be told. The scholar A. W. Verrall, in his edition of Agamemnon (1894), noted a litany of problems with this play in terms of time and place. If King Agamemnon does indeed represent Regulus, then these inconsistencies might make perfect sense on the allegorical plane; and further, Leigh's central thesis might be independently shown to be correct.

To see where this investigation led, and for more background information on Edna Leigh and her work, please follow the internal links at left. I would invite you to study my detailed textual analysis of Agamemnon. A similarly detailed analysis of Choephoroe is in progress as of 24/07/14, with analyses of Eumenides, Seven Against Thebes and Sophocles' Theban trilogy to follow. Agamemnon is widely considered Aeschylus' greatest single play, and the textual analysis provided here provides a solid basis for the subsequent work.

Here is a short video illustrating the main events of the Oresteia as allegory:


Oresteia video


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