The Greeks celebrate their victory over Troy at the beginning of the Odyssey, forgetting that it was not their own strength that won the city, but rather the will of the gods.
In light of this neglect to give credit where it is due, Athena and Poseidon become very angry.
They begged Zeus to make the Greeks suffer, and he agreed.
Poseidon drowned many of their boats and made them go off-track with waves from the ocean.
However, this story is about Odysseus’ voyage in particular. He confronts not only perils set before him by fate or gods, but also common challenges that all people face such as fear, stupidity, and maliciousness of others.
- Lotus Eaters
- Island of Aeolia
- Teiresias and the Land of the Dead
The Greeks have won the Trojan War and are now journeying back to their homeland. Led by Odysseus, they could not have predicted the series of lengthy, dangerous events they would encounter along the way.
The first stop on their journey was the land of the Cicones, where they looted and pillaged to their heart’s content.
The Lotus Eaters lived on an island where the lotus flower grew. These flowers caused anyone who ate them to forget their home and desire nothing but to stay on the island forever.
The Greeks ran into trouble when they landed on the island of the Cyclops. This one-eyed, giant creature kept the Greeks captive in his cave until they finally escaped by blinding the Cyclops.
Island of Aeolia
The next stop was the island of Aeolia, where they met the god Aeolus. He gave Odysseus a bag full of wind to help them on their journey.
The Laestrygonians were a race of giants who lived on an island and attacked the Greeks with huge boulders. Many Greek ships were destroyed and only a few men escaped.
Odysseus and his remaining men landed on the island of Circe, where they were turned into animals by the witch Circe. They were eventually turned back into humans and spent a year on the island before leaving.
Teiresias and the Land of the Dead
Odysseus journeyed to the Land of the Dead to speak with the prophet Teiresias. The first spirit to visit Odysseus is that of the man they lost on Aeaea. This soul begs his former captain to go back and give him a burial. Next, the blind prophet Tiresias appears to him. He tells Odysseus that Poseidon is punishing the Achaeans because they blinded his son Polyphemus. Odysseus also speaks with his mother.
Upon returning to this land, Odysseus and his men partake in a burial ritual for one of their fallen comrades. Afterwards, Circe spends her last night with Odysseus.
The Sirens were creatures who sang such beautiful songs that sailors would crash their ships into the rocks just to listen. Odysseus had his men plug their ears with wax and tie him to the mast so he could hear the song without being drawn in.
Charybdis was a creature who lived under the water and would spew out a whirlpool every few days. The Greeks barely escaped her clutches.
Scylla was a creature with six heads who lived on a cliff overlooking the water. She would reach down and snatch up sailors as they passed by.
This is where they met the sun god, Helios. The Greeks angered him by eating his cattle and he punished them by causing a storm that destroyed their ship.
Odysseus was the only one who survived the storm and he washed up on the island of Calypso. She fell in love with him and held him captive for seven years.
Odysseus was finally rescued by the Phaeacians and taken back to their land. He told them the story of his journey home and they provided him with a ship to take him the rest of the way.
He finally arrived home to his wife, Penelope, and son, Telemachus. After twenty years, he was finally reunited with his family.
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