Odyssey is an epic tale written by Homer, about the adventures of the Greek hero, Odysseus. Odysseus was the son of LaŽrtes (Laertes) and Anticleia. Odysseus was the king of the island of Ithaca. With twelve ships, he sailed to and fought in Troy for ten years. He was one of the Greek best warriors, who masterminded the fall of Troy. Odysseus would suffered another ten years of wandering before the gods allowed him to set foot on his small, but beloved island Ithaca.
The Lotus plants
As they were about to round the southern tip of Peloponnesus, their ships was driven by strong wind to Libya, where they met the Lotus-eaters. The plant Lotus caused anyone to eat the flower or seeds to forget who he was, and their only interest was to eat more of the plants. Odysseus had to force some of his crew onto the ships, before he left here.
Landing his ships in Sicily, Odysseus and twelve of his men went in search of supplies. They come across a cave that was obviously inhabited by a giant. Odysseus insisted on meeting the inhabitant in the hope of exchanging gifts. Polyphemus, a Cyclops and son of Poseidon, drove his giant herd of sheep into the cave and blocked the huge cave with a huge boulder.
Finding intruders in the cave, he immediately killed and ate two of Odysseus' men. Knowing he would never be able to leave the cave unless they killed the Cyclops, Odysseus devised a plan. He and his men sharpened a huge log of wood into a stake, during Polyphemus' absence the next day.
Two more of his men were killed upon Polyphemus' return. Odysseus gave the Cyclops a little wine. Enjoying the wine, Polyphemus promised him some gift in return for some more wine. Asking for Odysseus' name, the hero reply that it was "Nobody". Polyphemus promised to eat "Nobody" last.
Drunk, the Cyclops went wearily to bed. Odysseus and his men hardened the huge stake point in the fire pit, before driving the stake into Polyphemus' single eye, blinding the Cyclops. They hid under the bellies of the huge sheep, and when the Cyclops wen herding his sheep the next day, due to his blindness, he did not notice them.
Furious with what Odysseus had done, he proceded to call all the other Cyclops living in the vicinity to ask for their assistance. When they asked him what happened to his eye, the poor Polyphemus could only repeat " 'Nobody' did this to me!!" The other Cyclops went back home, pitying their friend whom they now thought mad.
Keeper of the winds
Odysseus arrived on the island of Aeolia, ruled by the god Aeolus, Keeper of the Winds. Here he was a guest for few days. Upon leaving, the wind-god gave Odysseus a bag made of ox-hide, trapping all the strong winds within. Odysseus sailed for nine straight days without sleep. The wind was fair and he sighted his island. Tired, Odysseus went below deck for short sleep. His men were greedy, was curious to see what was in the bag, causing all the strong winds to escape. The sudden storm drove his ships off-course, lasted several days. Odysseus was driven all the way back to Aeolia. Aeolus realised that Odysseus might be cursed and therefore refused to help Odysseus anymore.
The Laestrygonian giants After sailing for seven days, they arrived on the Laestrygonian city of Telepylus. The Laestrygonians were giants, ruled by their king Antiphates. The Laestrygonians lured and attacked eleven ships that entered the harbour, killing and eating Odysseus' men. Only his own ship escaped from been slaughtered.
The men were tired and demoralised by the death, when they arrived on the island of Aeaea, ruled by Circe. Circe was the daughter of sun god Helius and the Oceanid Perse. She was a sorceress and an immortal herself. Men, whom she had transformed into animals, guarded her island.
When Odysseus sent twelve men to investigate the island, only one returned. The other eleven men, who became guests of Circe, were transformed into swine. Odysseus himself went to the Circe's palace. On his way there, he met the god Hermes who gave him some berry from the plant "moly", which made the eater immune to sorcery.
When Circe tried to cast the spell upon Odysseus and failed, Odysseus threatened to kill her with his sword. Circe, who learned from prophecy earlier, that she would become mistress of the one whom was immune to her magic. The Circe readily surrendered to Odysseus.
At his request, Circe changed Odysseus' men back to human. Odysseus became her lover and he stayed with the sorceress for three years. Circe bore Odysseus three sons - Agrius, Latinus and Telegonus.
In the Underworld
When Odysseus decided it was time to sail home, Circe advised him to go the Underworld and talk to the shade of the seer Teiresias. Odysseus was to give the seer a drink from the blood of a black sheep, so the ghost could talk to him. The seer told him, if he and his men wish to return to Ithaca, they must not eat the herd of cattle belonging to the sun-god Helius on the island of Thrinacia. Teiresias told him after he return home, he must make a new journey to appeased the sea-god Poseidon as well as foretelling his death would come the sea. Returning to Aeaea, Circe gave further instructions to Odysseus about the Sirens, Scylla and Charybdis.
The Sirens were either nymphs or monsters with bodies of half-bird and half-women. For centuries their song had lured sailors to their death. They lived on the island called Anthemoessa, off the Italian coast. The Argonauts managed to pass safely through the island.
Following Circe's instruction, he filled his crew's ears with melted wax, while he had the crew tied him to the mast. Odysseus was curious about what song the Sirens sing. When the Sirens failed to lure a single sailor to death, all of them drowned themselves.
After passing the Sirens, they were moving towards the Strait of Messina, towards the vicinity of where Scylla and Charybdis were. On one side of the strait was Charybdis, a giant whirlpool, whereas Scylla was the six-headed monster that resided on the other side of the strait.
Scylla was originally a maiden, whom a minor sea-god Glaucus fell madly in love with. Circe was in love with Glaucus, but the sea-god did not return. In a jealous rage, Circe turned unfortunate girl into a hideous monster with six heads.
Circe advised Odysseus that he couldn't avoid both. If he sailed near Scylla he would lose only six of his men, but if he sail near the Charybdis, the force of the whirlpool would lose the entire ship. Circe also told them, not to waste their time fighting Scylla, or else he would lose twelve men instead of six. Odysseus chosen to sailed near Scylla, who snatched and killed six of his men, one for each head. Odysseus urged his men to row for their lives.
Cattle of the sun god
Bad weather prevented Odysseus' ship to sail on. They took refuge on the island of Thrinacia. Odysseus warned them not to kill and eat the cattle of the sun god Helios. Though they were stocked with plenty of supply from Circe's island, after a month or more of bad wind, their food supply dwindled.
When Odysseus went to pray to the gods for a break in weather, his crew killed some of the cattle and ate them, during his absence. The sun god Helios appealed to Zeus, pleading that the men who ate his cattle must be destroyed. Zeus had no choice but to agree. Odysseus returned to the ship and discovered what his crew had done and berated them. They protested that they would rather drown in the sea than starve to death.
The next day, the weather calmed and favourable wind blew. They immediately departed from the island. After an hour or so after having left the island, a sudden, violent storm broke out, driving the ship back towards Charybdis. Thunderbolt from Zeus wrecked the ship. Those who did not drown were sucked into the whirlpool of Charybdis. Only Odysseus survived, clinging to broken keel. For several days, the hero drifted in the sea until he arrived to the island of Ogygia.
The minor goddess Calypso resided on the island of Ogygia. Here the hero lived with the goddess as her lover for seven years. Calypso became the mother of Nausinous and Nausithous. Odysseus was often homesick, looked towards the east, wondering if he would ever return to his home and family.
On the tenth year since Odysseus left Troy, Athena acted during Poseidon's absence from Olympus. Athena asked the assembled gods and Zeus, that Odysseus had suffered enough: that he should return home to his little kingdom Ithaca, to his wife Penelope and son Telemachus. On Ithaca, Penelope has trouble with suitors for the last three years. Zeus agreed and sent Hermes to Ogygia to inform Calypso of his decision.
Calypso, who wanted to make Odysseus her husband, had planned on making the hero immortal. Rather reluctantly Calypso consented to help Odysseus return home. Odysseus built a boat and left Ogygia, sailing in fair weather for seventeen days. Poseidon on his way back to Olympus saw his enemy in the sea, and sent a violent storm. The storm destroyed Odysseus' boat. He would have drowned had not a minor sea-goddess, named Leucothea (Ino), took pity on him, giving Odysseus her veil that would keep him afloat. Odysseus swam for two days before arriving on the island of Scherie.
Scherie was ruled by Alcinous, king of the Phaeacians, and his queen , Arete. When their daughter, Naucia, went for a picnic in the beach, she discovered Odysseus, who was naked. Giving him some clothes, she directed him to the city and palace.. They took pity on him; he was fed and given a room to sleep as guest.The next day, they honoured him with a banquet, and asked him how he reached their island. Odysseus revealed his identity, of his part in Troy, and finally of his long journey to reach home, in the hope of being reunited with his family. The Phaeacians being descended from Poseidon, were the finest seamen, Alcinous offered to send him home. Phaeacians hosts and guests gave him many gifts. He sailed on the next day to Ithaca. Before he arrived home, Athena made the hero fall asleep. The Phaeacians put the sleeping hero, along with his gifts on the beach of Ithaca.
She married Odysseus and bore him a son Telemachus. Odysseus left his home for Troy, while Telemachus was still an infant. When Odysseus did not return home after the Trojan War, the palace began to fill with unwanted suitors, who were living off Odysseus' wealth. She tried to stall the suitors by pleading she needed to weave shroud for her old father-in-law, Laertes, but at night she secretly unravel her weaving. For three years, this ruse worked until one of her maid, who was a mistress of one of the suitors, betrayed the queen to the suitors. Penelope was forced to finish the shroud. The suitors refused to leave until she has chosen one of them as her husband.
Though Telemachus has grown to manhood, he was not strong enough to remove the suitors from the palace, and was desperate for some news about his father. He was only an infant when his father left for Troy. The goddess Athena disguised as a Mentor, advised the young prince, to seek news from Nestor in Pylus. Together with Athena (Mentor) Telemachus slipped out of the palace and sailed to Pylus.
Nestor told them how some returned home safely, while others were either driven off course or were killed by the storm send by Poseidon. Nestor told him he have not seen nor heard news of Odysseus since they left Troy, when the war ended. The old king sends Telemachus with his son (Pisistratus) to Sparta, where Telemachus spoke to Menelaus and met Helen. Helen and Menelaus recognised Telemachus as the son of Odysseus, since the young man looked so much like his father. Telemachus asked if the Spartan king had any news of his father. Menelaus told Telemachus how he left Troy, without honouring the gods with sacrifice. His ships were driven off course, finally arriving in Egypt.
For seven years, unfavourable winds kept shore-bound in Egypt. To return home to Sparta, Menelaus and his men must capture the sea-god Proteus and find out why he could not return
Odysseus disguised as a beggar
Meanwhile, the Phaeacians left Odysseus on the beach of Ithaca. There he met Athena, she told him about his home being overrun with suitors and she used her power to disguise him as old man. Odysseus then met a swineherd Eumaeus, who entertained his guest in his hut.
Athena guided Telemachus' ship to avoid an ambush set up by the suitors, returning him home safely home. Telemachus went the swineherd hut, where Odysseus revealed his identity to his son, and together they planned to dispose of the suitors. Odysseus will go to the palace in the disguised as old beggar, to see and judge the situation for himself.
Returning to the palace, Telemachus began secretly hiding the suitors' weapons, while Odysseus talked to the suitors. He tried to warn to suitors to leave before Odysseus' return. Some suitors insulted him, while another actually threw a stool at Odysseus. A young beggar named, Irus, challenged the hero into a boxing match. Though he was disguised as an old beggar, the suitors were quite impressed with his physique as he stripped off his cloak. Odysseus knocked out Irus with one blow. Only Odysseus' faithful hound Argus recognised him before the old dog died at his master's feet.
The old scar
Soon, Penelope heard that a beggar was in her palace and sent for Odysseus. Disguised as a beggar, Odysseus told her, how he met her husband and he reassured her that he would return soon. She was not convinced about his tales, but nevertheless, grateful to the beggar. Penelope sent Odysseus' old nurse Eurycleia to wash the beggar's feet. Odysseus realised that Eurycleia would recognise his scar on his thigh, although he was disguised as an old beggar. The moment Eurycleia felt the scar, the old nurse immediately recognised it. Eurycleia was on the point of revealing his identity in joy. Odysseus stopped her and warned her not tell anyone as yet.
The next day in the banquet hall, Penelope had decided to take one of the suitors as her husband, if he could string Odysseus' bow and shoot an arrow through twelve axes in a row. While the suitors were unsuccessfully try to string the bow, Odysseus revealed himself to two faithful servants, told them of his plan. The two servants barred the doors within hall, to prevent suitors from escaping. They also secretly removed all the weapons from the hall.
When all the suitors failed to string the bow, Odysseus offered to try stringing the bow. The suitors protested, but Penelope insisted that all would be allow and try their hands on the bow. Telemachus sends her mother back to her apartment, while the servants began locking the door to the courtyard. Receiving the bow, Odysseus effortlessly strung the bow and unerringly shot the arrow through the twelve axes. After revealing his identity to the suitors, his next arrow killed Antinous and then Eurymachus. Together with his son and his two loyal servants, all 108 suitors were killed to the last man.
The old nurse rushed to Penelope and told her Odysseus has returned home, but she doubted the nurse, thinking the nurse was insane. Even though she met her husband, Penelope was not convinced until Odysseus told them of the secret that only she and her husband knew. In their bedroom, she asked Odysseus to move the bed. Odysseus told her the bed couldn't be move because he had carved the bed out of a tree trunk, when they had married over twenty years ago. What he had told her was the truth. Penelope was convinced that the man who stood before her was her long, lost husband. Finally, reunited with his wife, Odysseus told Penelope of her adventure.
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