The Odyssey is an epic poem written by Homer. It details the wanderings of Odysseus after the Trojan War.
Escape from the Cyclops
Caught on Calypso's Island
The Slaying of the Suitors
Since the story is about wanderings, the setting of the Odyssey wanders all over the place. The two most common settings are on Olympus where the gods decide the fate or Odysseus, and back home in Ithaca where Telemachus and Penelope try to hold down the fort.
Following the fall of Troy, Odysseus parted his twelve ships from the main fleet. What appeared to be a quick journey home turned out to be ten years of hazards, perils and blunders.
Soon after the journey started, Odysseus and his men arrived on the island of the Cyclops. Cyclops are one-eyed monster sons of Poseidon. An investigation of the island ended up with Odysseus and his men trapped in the cave of a Polyphemus, a Cyclop. Polyphemus ate six of his men and Odysseus had to escape the island. This he did by blinding Polyphemus' only eye. Polyphemus appealed to his father, Poseidon. He asked that Odysseus would reach his home late and alone, and when he lands from a stranger's ship, he will find trouble waiting for him.
The next island visited by Odysseus was the island of Aeolus, the Lord of the Winds. Here, he was given an oxhide bag in which all the winds of the world are tied up save one, the west wind that would carry them home. They sailed for nine days, never needing to touch the oars. At the sight of Ithaca, Odysseus, after staying up for so long, fell asleep. His curious crew untied the oxhide and the trapped winds blew them back to where they were. Now they had to work hard at the oars for there were no winds to help.
They came to an island with tall rocks. It belonged to a king who killed people for food. While escaping from the island, the king's men destroyed all but one of Odysseus' ships.
The next stop was the island of Circe. Circe was an enchantress who turned some of the men into pigs. With Hermes' help, Circe had no power over Odysseus. Instead, at Odysseus, request, Circe turned the pigs back to men. Odysseus and his men stayed on the island for a year. After a year, Odysseus was reminded again of Ithaca.
At this, he went to the land of the dead to seek advice from Tiresias, the blind prophet. Tiresias said Poseidon was still angry at Odysseus for blinding his son. He warned Odysseus that he and his men, when they come to the island of Thrinacia, they must leave the cattles of Hyperion, the sun god, alone, so that all may be well with his homecoming. If they fail, his crew and ship will be destroyed, he will arrive home alone to a house full of strife and sorrow. He will find men wasting his possessions and pressing marriage upon his wife, Penelope, who believes him to be dead.
Back at sea, Odysseus and his men survived the temptation of the siren-song and lost six men to the six-headed monster, Scylla. Tired and hungry, the men arrived on the island of Thrinacia, where the cattles of Hyperion graze. With food running out, Odysseus' men slaughtered one of the cattles. These men were struck to death by a storm, leaving Odysseus alone.
When the storm died, Odysseus found himself washed up on the island of the nymph Calypso. Odysseus stayed on the island at Calypso's pleasure. Without ships or materials for building, Odysseus was held on the island for seven years. Yet his heart was longing for home. Back in Ithaca, supposing Odysseus to be dead, suitors invaded his home, squandered his wealth, mistreated his son, Telemachus, and tried to force his wife Penelope to marry one of them, and through her, seize the kingdom, even when Telemachus was the rightful heir. Seeing this, Athena persuaded the other gods that Odysseus must get back home.
Hermes went to Calypso to ask Odysseus to be released. Athena went to Ithaca and convinced Telemachus to find his father. After Hermes' visit, Calypso reluctantly provided Odysseus with whatever he needed to leave the island. She gave timber for a boat and some food, and sent Odysseus on his way. Poseidon sent another storm that wrecked the makeshift boat, and Odysseus was swept to another island. Here, he was found by a king's daughter. While enjoying the hospitality of King Alcinous, his identity was revealed. Alcinous provided him with ship, men and gifts, and sent him home.
Odysseus finally made it to Ithaca. At this time, his son returned from a journey where he did not find his father. Upon arrival, he and his son met at the farm of Eumaeus, a faithful servant. To find out who were still faithful to him, he disguised himself as a beggar, and went home with Telemachus. He was scorned by the suitors, but was treated kindly by his wife. He was also recognized by the old nurse, Eurycleia, who swore his identity to secrecy.
At the beggar's advice, Penelope reluctantly conceded to choose from among the suitors one whom she will marry. The winner would be the one who could string Odysseus' bow and then shoot an arrow through the rings of twelve axes. All tried, but no one succeeded. Finally, Odysseus, still in his beggar disguise offered to try. He succeeded. His identity revealed, and with all the suitors still assembled, he and his son Telemachus proceeded to kill all of them.
After nineteen years of absence, Odysseus was finally reunited with his loving wife.