The Odyssey

The Odyssey is one of Homer’s many Epic Poems. Written after the Iliad, many people believe that this was composed in Homer’s older years because it shows a completely different tempo to the Iliad. It was written about Odysseus’ journey sailing home from the ten year Trojan War.

This Epic Poem is about the trials that he faced and the wraths of the gods he and his sailors incurred. The story also covers the qualms of his son and wife, both of whom are plagued by the wife’s suitors. The Odyssey starts with Odysseus stranded on Calypso’s island. This was because Poseidon, God of the sea, was angry with him for blinding one of his many sons, Polyphenols, a cyclops. Poseidon sent storms blowing Odysseus’ boats off course.

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Eventually, after seven years, the gods took pity on him, building a raft with which he escaped to Ithaca. Then Homer takes the courtesy of filling you in on what has happened in the three years between the end of the Trojan War and when we find him stranded on Calypso’s island. The first major adventure Odysseus had after leaving Troy was when he arrived at the Land of the Cyclopes, giant creatures with one eye. Not guessing where they were, Odysseus’ crew treated themselves to some sheep. Unfortunately, no sooner than when the last of the sheep had been eaten, did their fearsome owner, Polyphenols, came along. He was furious and locked them up in his cave.

Clever Odysseus talked to Polyphenols, saying that his name was ‘nobody’, and once Polyphenols was asleep, blinded him with a stick. When Polyphenols called for help nobody bothered to come to his aid. This was because he had said: ‘Come, help me! Nobody is hurting me!’ The next day, Odysseus and his crew pretended to be the sheep of the blinded cyclops until they reached their boats. This was how they incurred the wrath of Poseidon. After coming within sight of Ithaca, Odysseus and his crew were blown off course, yet again, this time to Circe’s island. Circe was a witch who detested men.

She put a curse on the crewmates, turning them all into pigs. Odysseus broke the curse with some herbs given to him by Hermes, God of travellers, and messenger of the gods. Once the curse was broken the crew stayed on the island for a year, then set sail again, pining for home. Circe told Odysseus how to pass the sirens, a group of grotesque, vulture-necked woman. These creatures sing songs of wisdom and lure sailors out of the safety of their boats to which they never get back. Using this advice, Odysseus and his sailors plug their ears with wax, creating the first earplugs.

After passing the sirens, the men were quite shaken, so they voted to stay on the island of Thrinaka. This seemed quite harmless, until starving, the crew decided to eat the cattle there even though Odysseus had warned them against it. The cattle were sacred to Apollo, (god of the sun). Once they set sail again the sailors were punished for this blasphemy. Zeus sent a lighting bolt from the heavens to take revenge upon them.

All were killed except for our brave hero, who was washed up, exhausted, onto the sands of the very island where Homer started this Epic Poem, bringing you back to speed with the present. After the gods rescued him from Calypso’s island, they granted him safe passage home. Once Odysseus got back to his own land of Ithaca, he and his son defeated the suitors, killing them all. He then went to his father, the king, and was happily reunited with him.