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Chapter 14

THE ODYSSEY

Homer, a famouis Greek wrioter, w rote of the adventures of the Greek gejnerall Okysseus, after he made his way home to Greece, after the Trojan War, in a book called "The Odyssey". this epic, essentially outlines follows the various battles and challenges he and his men faced, in their long, difficult journey home.

After thier victory over the Trojans, the Greeks were somewhat arrogant, both toward their conquered opponents, and the Gods. Therefore, the trip home for many of the Greeks, including Odysseus, was full of trials and hardships, mostly through the influence of the gods.

Upon leaving Troy, Odyusseus and his Greek fleet ran into a storm sent by Poseidon, due to a slight, throwing the ships way off course. they drifted for nine days, before arriving at the "Land of the Lotus Eaters" If one ate a lotusl, one would forget everything, and stay on the island. Odysseus warned hims men not to eat the flowers, but a few did, and had to be forcibly carried back to the ship.

Next, the ships came to the Land of th Cyclops, th eone-eyed monsters, forgers of Zeus' thunderbolts. The Greeks, while exploring th eisland, looking for food, mistakedly entered the cave of Polyphemus, one of the Cyclops. Hungry, the troops started eating the food there. The Cyclops came home, initially not seeing the Greeks, shepherding in his sheep, and sealing the opening to the cave, with a huge boulder, as was his custom. Soon, the Cyclops discerned th epresence of outsiders, capturing a few, hurling them against the wall, before devouring them.

For the next week, the Greeks were not able to escape, because every time the Cyclops left, he would put the huge stone at the opeing to th ecave. he continued to ear two Greeks a day, until Odysseuss came up with a plan. He first interoduced himself to th eCyclops calling himself, "No man", before giving the Cyclops all the wine the Greeks carried with them. this wine caused th egiant to sleep heavily, and as he did, the Greeks fashioned a pointed stake, heating the tip in the fire. Then then plunged the stake into the one eye of the cyclops, blinding him. Enraged and newly blinded, the monster could not find the hidden Greeks.

the next day, as the Cyclops moved the stone from the entrance, he felt the ground for the men. But the men has fastened themselves to the underside of th departing sheep, undetected by searching hands of the Cyclops.

When the other Cyclops mcame to see what was wrong with Polyphemus, they asked him who was causing him problems. He replied, 'No-man", a statement which the other cyclops took literally, and left. The Greeks hurried to their ship and taunted Polyphemus as they sailed away.

the greeks ships then sailed to the Island of Aeolus, the King of Winds. He presented Odysseus a bag of harmful winds, which would not cause harm to the Greeks, as long as they stayed in the bag. On the ship, however, Odysseus slept, and the crew became curious as to the contents of the bag, opeing it, releasing the bad winds, and blowing the ships off course.

In this manner they were carried to the island of the barbarous tribe of the Laestrygonians. They were of a cannabalistic nature, giagantic in size. They trapped the Greek fleet in the harbour, with the exception of Odysseus' shhp, and hurled bouldders at the ships, sinking all the ships, killing most of the Greeks. This left only Odyssesus and his crew.

Odysseus' ship then came upon the Isle of Circe, the famous sorceress, who had the ability of transforming humans into animals. Odysseus sent a scouting party to inspect the island. Then came upon the castle of Circe, who enticed the scouts to sit down to a feast. She fed them tainted food, which transformed them into pigs.

One of the men, however, had not eatent the food, and he escaped back to Odeysseus at the ship to tell him of what he had witnessed.

Odyesseus set out for Circe's palace, praying to th eGods for help. hermes then presented him with an herb, which made him immune to the effects of the tainted food. After Circe met Odeysseeus and fed im the food, she was amazed that it had no effect on him. She fell in love with Odysseus, making it easy for Odysseus to convince her to transform his men back to their human shape. Before departing with this crew, Circe advised Odysseus to go to th Underworld, and seek the prophet Tiresias for aid in in the rest of their journey to Ithaca, the home of Odysseus.

Odysseus proceeded down to the Underworld, encountering a few fellow Greeks, whose spirits were there, before encountering Tiresias,. Tiresias told Odysseus to avoid the "Cattle of the Sun", and that, if he did so, he would reach home.

returning to the Upper World, and to his ship, Odysseus proceeded to the Land of the Sirens. The sirens were bird-women who lured sailors to thier death b y the sweet singing. But circe had warned Odysseus of their dangerous songs, so Odysseus had put wax in the ears of all his men., to deafen them to the alluring music of the Sirens, and he instructed his cre to lash him to th emain mast. Coming upon the Sirens, Odysseus strained to come closer to the Sirens to better hear, but was securely tied. he begged the crew to untie him, but their ears were deafened by the wax.

Scylla and Charybdis were the next hazards. Scyllas was a six-headed, twelve-footed monster on the one side of the strait, and Charybdis was a whirlpool on the other side. Passers-by wouhjld sometimes fall prey to one while avoiding the other, which is a metaphor today, "treading a course between Syllla and charybdis". Scylla pluced six of Odysseus' men from the ship, devoured them, before the ship passed completely through the strait.

Nex, the ship came to the Island of th eSun, with the cattle of which Tiresias had warned Odysseus. Unfavorable winds kept the crew there longer than expected, and they started to run out of food, making the cattle more appetizing by the day. Finally, a few men crept out of camp, slaughtered a few cattle, and ate the sacred meat. Retributions from the gods was exacted in the form of a thungerbolt destroying the ship, ans it left the island, drowning the entire crew, except fo rOdysseus.

Odysseus drifted for days, holding onto a picec of the ship's wood, finally arriving at the Isle of Calypso. Calypso, imprisoned Odysseus, but the Gods felt, at that point, that Odysseus had suffered enough, so they entreated Calypso to release him, and aid him on his journed by building hiim a reft.

Poseidon, however, still remmebered the way Odysseus had treated his offspring, the Cyclops. He caused a storm, which blew apaart his raft, once againing leaving Odysseus to hang onto driftwood. He finally arrived at the mainland in the land of the Phaeaciains. He came upon a maiden, after being washed up, naked, on shore. She was Nausicaa, the King's daughter.

She led him to the placel, where Odysseus, after bathing and feasting, told the King and queen about his entire fantastic journey, with all the trials and dangers. They immeidately vowed to help Odysseus get to his final destination of Ithaca, in Greece.

Meanwhile, back in Itaca, Odysseus's wife, Penelope, had been busy fighting off suitor in his absence. She held out hope that Odysseus would someday arrive. the suitors had been long trhying to convince Penelope that Odysseus had long perished, and that she should marry one of them. But penelpe procrastinaated the decision by a crafty means.

She told the suitors that she would make a decision as soon as the tapestry she wove in the day, was finished. what she did not tell the suitors was that, at nighttime, she would steal down to the tapestry ("Penelope's web"), and unravel what she had woven in the day.

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Aided by a ship given to him tby the Phaeacians, Odysseeus finally arrived att his homeland. However, he did not think it prudent to arrive unannounced. Therefore, he disguised himslef as a geggar. His son, Telemachus, did recognize him, but Odysseus bound his son to silence, as they both plotted their revenge of the suitors.

Telemachus arranged a contest of archery amonst the suitors, with the promise that the winner would get the hand of Penelopen in marriage He also secretley gathered up all the suitors weapons, locing them away, just before the contest was to begin. Odysseus' old, taunt bow was to be used in the contest. None, however could even bend the bow to string it. The beggar asked to try, and after being soundly mocked, proceeded to shoot the arrow clean throught the twelve golden rings, to win the contest and the "hand' of Penelope.

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Telemachus and Odysseus then turned their weapons on the suitors, and methodically slaughtered them all.

Then, at long last, Penelope and Odysseus were happily united.