PORT BATHY AND THE CAPITAL OF ITHACA.
The Neritos of Homer.
ITHACA, which owes its celebrity to the associated recollections of Ulysses, and to the divine poetry of Homer, is situated in the Ionian Sea, at about eight miles to the south-east of the Leucadian promontory, thirty-two miles north of the island of Zakunthos, and twenty-three miles to the north-west of the Araxian promontory in Achaia.
It is separated from the island of Cephallenia by a canal, which, in some places, is not two miles in breadth, and in others eight. Strabo makes its circuit only eighty stadia, and Pliny allows it twenty-five miles. Its actual circumference is, however, about thirty-two miles. The population of the island amounts to about 8,000 persons, who inhabit Bathy the capital, and three small villages. It has eight ports, of which Bathy is the largest.
The contiguous port of Aitos is the next in size, Ithaca still retains its ancient nome among the upper class, though it is generally known by the appellation of Theaki. It contains the ruins of three cities, one of which is situated upon a rocky acclivity rising from the port of Altos, and is highly interesting from the vast antiquity of its walls, which are composed of polygon stones of large dimensions.
Bathy is situated at the extremity of the port of the same name, which is deep and broad, and screened from the violence of the winds by the surrounding elevation:
A specious port appears,
Sacred to Phorcys’ pow’r, whose name it bears:
Two crnaggy rocks, projecting to the main,
The roaring winds’ tempestuous rage restrain;
Within, the waves in softer murmurs glide,
And ships secure without their halsers ride.
(Pope’s translation of Homer, Odyss.)
This is the port which is exhibited in the present view, and the lofty mountain beyond its entrance is the Neritos of Homer; but the soil is worn away, and the bare crags are no longer shaded by the waving forests which the poet has described.
The whole of Ithaca is rocky except the plain near Bathy. The principal produce is the currant, which is exported to England. A fine wine is extracted from this fruit; but it is difficult to be obtained even upon the spot, mid is considered a great delicacy.
Source: Views in Greece by Edward Dodwell. London, 1821.