Islands. ITHAKA. 23. Route. 275
the Venetian epoch. But similar conditions of life make the modern is¬
landers resemble the ancient in many important particulars. To this day
the Ithakans are distinguished by their bold seamanship, their love of
home, and their hospitality. Their mercantile instincts often draw them
to foreign countries, whence they return after many days, rich in experience
and material wealth. The most important product of the island is still
the strong aromatic wine of which Homer makes mention — The first
attempt in m< dern times to localize fhe Homeric descriptions was made
in 1807 by Sir William Gell, who, however, carried to impossible lengths
the attempt to identify the smallest allusions of the poet Dr. Schliemann
agreed in the main with Gell, but A. von Warsberg corrected many of the
conclusions of his predecessors. Bowen and Mure agree with Gell and
Schliemann, Leake takes the view followed in the text. Another German
investigator, R. Hercher, has denied all harmony between the poem and the
reality (1866), while DSrpfeld seeks to identify the modern Levkas with the
Homeric Ithaka (see p 267). So far, however, the excavat ons have not
yielded any dePnite support to these newer theories, and for the present,
at least, we may still regard Ithaka as the ancient home of Ulysses.
The traveller coming from Kephallenia lands in Ithaka in the
small bay of Pissaetd, at the W. base of the A'etds (1245 ft.), the hill
which separates the N. part of the island from the S. The road from
PissaSto to Vathy ascends in windings (short-cuts for pedestrians) to
the (lfe hr.) Chapel of St. George, at the head of the pass (425 ft.)
between the Aetos on the one side, on which the so-called castle of
Ulysses now becomes visible (p. 276), and the Stephani (p. 276) on
the other. We then descend rapidly to the shore of the dark-blue
Gulf of Molo, and skirt the bay of Dexid to the bay of Vathy, where
the steamers are moored, and the small town of Vathy (about 3 M.
from the head of the pass).
Vathy (accommodation at the Xenodochion Odysseus kept by
Lores, and at the Xen. Parnassds kept by Sophianos; Asty Cook-Shop)
officially called Ithdke, a charmingly-situated town with 4620 inhab.,
is the capital of the island. On the busy Marina are the buildings
of the Demarchy. Farther on, in an open square on the Marina, is
a Monument to Sir Thomas Maitland (p. 258), behind which is the
Post Office. The shore road ends at a Cafe, with a good view.
The Bay of Vathy, so-called on account of its depth (fiaSi6s),
with its 'two headlands of sheer cliff, which slope to the sea on the
haven's side and break the mighty wave that ill winds roll without'
(Od. xiii. 96; Butcher and Lang's translation), is generally supposed
to be the Harbour ofPhorkys, where thePhseacians landed Ulysses
on his return home, as described in the Odyssey. There does not
seem to have been a settlement here in antiquity. The present
town dates from the 16th cent only.
On the side of the hill of Hagios Nikdlaos, s/i hr. to the S.W.
of Vathy, is a stalactite cavern, reached by a steep path leading
through vineyards and over stony slopes (a boy as guide and candles
should be taken). This is erroneously supposed to be the Grotto of
the Nymphs mentioned by Homer (Od. xi'i, 107-8), for the poet has
unmistakably located the grotto close to the bay. The entrance is
6 ft. high, and l-l1/' ft. wide. The interior consists of a small outer