Wanderings of Odysseus

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I met the King Alcinous today, what a great man (not quite as great as me of course) wealthy! He had a great poet there, at his palace, telling all kinds of great stories. I should get a poet to write about my adventures someday, Im great enough. It was wonderful to see all the banqueters having such a great time with the minstrel playing, luxurious food spread about them and a wonderful steward carrying the wine, filling any half empty cups. Everything was what I would call perfection! Then the King asked of my heroic journey, and suddenly my woes returned as I remembered all the men I had lost. I couldnt think where to begin or end, I mean there were so many great and horrific things I had experienced on my voyages. I thought I would start with the great man him self... ME. So I told the king and the rest of the hall my name. Just so they knew it. Of course so as to sound less modest I made some remark, like I shall start by giving you my name I wish you all to know it so that in the times to come if I escape the evil day, I may always be your friend, really I had no friends (their all dead) and thought that by doing this I may get about 0 friends in one go. The amazing thing is it worked! Shows how silky tongued I am! I also told him that my home was I Ithica, with its great mount Neriton. Of course I included that Ithica produced the finest men in the world, I, myself being the finest of the fine and that I am loyal to my wife. Just in case any of the lovely ladies took a fancy to yours truly.


Memoirs of my journeys


Meeting the Cyclops


Were on our way to Ismarus, my crew and I easily over took this place. Of course I shared the women food and gold equally between my men, which I thought was quite generous of me considering how much more powerful I am, after all I am Zeus favourite.


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Soon it came to me that the Cicone people were planning their revenge against us. Alas my men would not listen. As Dawn rose fresh and rosy-fingered the Cicones wrath was upon us. Six men from each ship died, the rest of us escaped, Zeus sent a storm of tremendous power straight on top of us. There was nothing we could do but bend our awes in the turbulent waters, to escape. We were sent off course past Malea and Cythera. For nine days we battled on through the storm and on the tenth ended up in the land of the Lotus-eaters. I sent three men, one messenger and two scouts, off to explore the small island. Not far into their trek they found the harmless Lotus-eaters, they were offered the fruit and willingly accepted and soon they were over come by the potency of the fruit and consequently forgot all about the crew and I.


I set off to find them after they did not return. It was not long before I found the stupid men, munching on lotus plants. They had no memory of my crew, ship, the home or me. So I dragged the back to the ship, though they we very unwilling. When I reached the ship I dragged them onboard, tied them up and ordered the crew to embark and continue with the voyage.


So we left the land of the Lotus-eaters and soon came to an island of Cyclops, a formidable creature that live by it own rules. Across from this island was another completely colonised by sheep alone. The Cyclops had no ships and so the sheep were left alone and survived at the fate of the gods, as did the Cyclops, being lazy buggers the let the god sew the grounds and the Cyclops never had to sew any seed, only harvest the foods the gods gave them, and shepherd the goats. As we sailed along the shore we saw flat land, which could be ploughed with such ease and soil, which was so obviously the most fertile I had ever seen. We found a harbour, which needed no moorings, only to beach the ship and leave the rest to the spirits and wind.


So we landed and slept upon the beach, where the goats lived. When Dawn appeared, the Nymphs (children of Zeus) sent the mountain goats towards us. The moment we sighted them we grabbed our spears and bows and began to catch the game.


Very soon we had enough for twelve sheep per ship and, for the wonderful favourite of Zeus, I got ten to myself. We dinned, at sunset, on fresh meant and mellow wine. We still had loads of that luxurious wine; we had stolen from the Cicones.


After the feast we slept and awoke to the delightful Dawn. Myself and a selection of men set off for the neighbouring island of the Cyclops, leaving the rest of my followers to wine and dine on the goat infested island.


It was not far to the island next door, on the way we noticed a great cave with a man made yard and penned sheep, surely it was the home of a giant.


We saw the dweller of this huge abode, standing on cliff; it was not hard to miss the monster.


I picked my twelve best men and took some of my finest wine, given to me by Maron son of Euanthes priest of Apollo, in a large goatskin and also took some food.


The giant was very we organised it had baskets of cheese and bread large vats of wine. The lambs and kids were penned separated from the rest of the herd, and they were slit up into groups- spring ones the summer ones and the newly born. It had loads of high quality vessels; pails and bowls were all full of milk and whey.


All my men wanted to steal the sheep, goats and cheese, but I refused. I was determined to stay and meet this being of such strength. As soon as I saw him, we all regretted staying. He entered the cave followed by a flock of sheep and goats. When they were all inside he penned the up and put the mothers with the lambs and kids. He closed the entrance (our only means of escape) of the cave with a slab of rock, which not twenty wagons could budge, with such ease.


He milked the sheep and curdled the milk, took the whey and put it into a wicker cheese basket. He kept some milk aside for dinner, and once he had done his tasks he lit the fire and saw us. He went made. He ignored my offerings and questioned us on our origins. We were terrified, but being the great Odysseus I answered him. I told him how we ended up at his door, and I asked for his hospitality. HE told us that he didnt respect the gods and that he wouldnt agree with anyone who did. The only way he would spare us is if he liked us and wanted to. He asked where our ship was, but I was too clever for this trick, I wasnt going to tell him anything. We told him that Poseidon had destroyed our boat and our supplies. We had been carried to shore by the winds; only my friends and I had escaped his great storm. The monster did not say a word. He grabbed two of my men and smashed their heads against the floor. I was horrified to see what he had done, my comrades blood and brains scattered everywhere. He ripped up their bodies to make his dinner, not one scrap of their lifeless bodies was left. There was nothing we could do except pray to Zeus. After his meal of our friends, he laid down to sleep. At first I devised a way to kill him. But I decided against that realising that we would not be able to draw aside the huge rock, which would block our own escape. As soon as the sun god rose up above the hills, the Cyclops lit his fire milked his ewes and put the young to its mother. After doing this he snatched up two more of my men and again prepared his meal. Then he effortlessly pushed aside the great door stone and herded the goats and sheep into the fields. I was left to scheme a way to avenge my devoured friends death. We found a large wooden staff, it more like a mast of a ship to us. I cut a length of this wood and preceded to sharpen it and heat it until it became hard and lethal. We hid our weapon under some manure left in the cave and awaited the arrival of the monster. Yet again when he returned he carried out the same events as the previous night. While he was in the middle of eating my friends, I started my plan. I went up to him with a bowl of wine and offered it to him. He drank it willingly and kept asking for more. He became overpowered by the alcohol and started talking to me as a friend would. He asked my name and (heres the best bit of my plan!) I told him my name was `Nobody. He had promised me a gift if I told him my name, and my present was to be eaten last. I couldnt believe his cheek, I was expecting some gold, or a nice bit of meat. Almost as soon as he said this he passed out on the floor, in a drunken stupor, and vomited up our friends. We commenced with our plan. We picked up our weapon and heated the end in the flame, and just before it caught fire we lifted it together and twisted it into the eye of the sleeping Cyclops. He woke up with a scream, and attempted to grab us while his eye sizzled from the heat of the stake. Neighbouring Cyclopss heard him and came up to his door and asked what was wrong with him. The Cyclops replied (here it is!) `Nobody is hurting me and so his friends left him alone muttering that he was going mad. In the morning the last part of my plan was carried out, I tied all of my men to the underside of his sheep and myself to a ram. Because of the Cyclopes blindness could only feel what was going out if his cave, he stroked the backs of all his sheep as they left, the fool didnt even think of checking under them all. Once we were out in the fields I let go of my sheep and helpfully untied my men. We ran down to the ships and as quickly as possible we set sail back to the others. As we were leaving I yelled out the all his savagery had been paid back to him by Zeus. He became angry and threw a large boulder at our ship, it missed but the wave it caused nearly beached us back on his land. We sat off again and when we were further away I yelled out again much to my mens distress, I yelled at him my real name, and told him where I was from. The Cyclops shouted back that he had once spoken to a man who predicted his blindness, but he had expected it to be some he giant with immortal powers. He yelled that his father Poseidon would heal his eye. I didnt think that the almighty Earthshaker would never restore his sight and I told him so. He reached up and prayed to his father to help him, and picked up another tremendous rock and hurled it towards us, is narrowly missed our ship but this time the wave just helped us on our journey. We got back to our men and feasted with them, preparing ourselves for the next adventure.


Circes enchantments


After escaping Polyphemus, we sailed on, and came upon the floating island of Aeolia. This is the home of the favourite of all the immortal gods, Aeolus son of Hippotas. The great bronze wall stretched out around the isle. We came to his door and he welcomed us into his residence. He homed us for a very kindly month, where he held a feast every day, and questioned me on all the events that had occurred thus far. After the month was over I asked for his aid in getting home to Ithica and he agreed happily and went out of his way to prepare us a safe journey home. What a great guy, almost as resourceful as me. For some reason he gave me some of the ferocity of the Winds (as Zeus had entrusted him the power to control the winds) into a leather bag made from a fine fully-grown ox, ties with silver so as there to be no leakages. Next he summoned a wind from the west so that we could travel east back home to Ithica. But no... my men had suspicious minds and had decided that Aeolus had given me gold and that I had hidden gold in the leather bag of wind.


We travelled for nine days at sea and on the tenth we came within sight of Ithica. I collapsed from exhaustion, as I had steered the ship for nine days solid. While I slept my foolish companions decided to have a look at the supposed treasures I had been given, but instead released the full tempest from within the leather bag. The storm swept us away from Ithica and straight back to the shores of Aeolia. After yelling the idiots of the ship I returned to the palace of Aeolus, where he cast us away, as he feared that the gods had cursed my crew and I, and did not want to enrage the gods of which he sucked up to and feared so much.


We set sail from Aeolia and on the seventh day we arrived on Telepylus, the home of Lamus in the Laestrygonian land. Soon we found a harbour where there was no swells just pure calm. With only a small entrance where boats could fit through. Some of the boats steered their way into the harbour where it was obviously calmer but I stayed outside, checking the landscape before I settled. I tied my boat to a rock and I climbed up the headland so I could see from a height, the lands. I couldnt see any settlement only a wisp of smoke in the distance. I sent a group of men in to explore the smoke; they found a well-used track and followed it to a woman. She was the daughter of the chief, Antiphates. He attacked one man while the others managed escape; he ate his victim for dinner. The chief raised a war cry and his people started attacking our ships and us. I shouted to my men to row for their lives. One of my ships was completely destroyed during the attack. We rowed very hard through the waves until we came to the Palace of Circe on the island of Aeaea. We landed and I caught a huge stag for my men to eat. After they had eaten hungrily I divided my crew in half and picked a leader for each, neither team wanted to go because of the memories still in their minds about Antiphates. I was the leader of one and I gave the other to Eurylochus, we lead our tearful groups in opposite directions. Circes wonderful voice lured my men towards her window. My men called up to her and she ran down to open the door instantly. She prepared a meal for them; although unknown to my men it was intoxicated with a magic drug. Instantly they turned them into pigs and she drove them into sties. They had the appearance of pigs but the their minds remained human. However Eurylochus who cleverly wait outside ran back to tell us of the awful news. He could hardly speak for the tears streaming down his face, but eventually he managed to explain what had happened. As soon as I heard this I set off on the path to Circes palace, on my way Hermes stopped me, he gave me a drug, which would protect me from Circes evil potions. Circe saw me coming and was ready to welcome me into her home. She started asking me questions and asked me to go to bed with her, I couldnt leave my men as pigs so I asked her to promise me that there would be no more troubles for me. So I went to bed with her, it was fantastic! Afterward she washed and rubbed olive oil onto me. Then she prepared a meal offering me everything, but I could not eat a thing, she asked me why I wouldnt eat. I told her I would not eat while my men were being held captive in the form of a pig. Circe went straight away and returned them to their natural form. They recognised me and we all wept for each other. Circe asked me to stay and I agreed I went down and collected my men. They came with me to Circes house where they were bathed and oiled by her. We stayed for a whole year and feasted with the great woman. My men nagged me to leave and think of our homeland of Ithica. Before we left she told me that we had to go to the halls of Hades and consult a Theban prophet. I couldnt believe we had to sail to hell; my men broke down at the news. Circe told me how to get there and the rituals I needed. The next morning I woke my men and we set sail for hell. But on the way to the ship one of my men Elpenor had fallen of the roof of Circes palace and broken his neck. Circe gave us what we needed for sacrifice, and set off!


The halls of Hades


We sailed in the direction of River of Ocean. I drew my sword and dug a trench about the length of an arm. I poured libations and slit the throat of the required animals. The souls started rushing towards my men and me. I saw Elpenor and I asked him how he came to be in the lands of Hades. He explained to me what had happened and asked me to return to Circe and burry me properly. I couldnt believe I had forgotten about the body of one of my men, I felt so at fault with myself, I couldnt bear it, and instantly promised him to do his burial. Then I saw the soul of my dead mother, she had still been alive when I left home. I had not heard of her passing. I was moved to tears. Before my mother drank the blood the Theban prophet approached me. He drank the blood and spoke to me. He told me that my path home would not be easy, for Poseidon was still furious about the blinding of his son, Polyphemus. Despite his grudge we still might reach Ithica he told me to have strength to control my mens appetites. If we ever land on the island of the sun god, we must not harm his flocks or we will suffer tremendously. If I ever reach home he told me that there would be suitor in my house offering my wife marriage. Once I have defeated these I must set off again. When I come across a traveller referring to my arrows as `winnowing-fan then offer Poseidon a ram a bull and a boar. After that I will be allowed to remain at home and die with friends and family around me. My mother came and drank the blood and recognised me, she told me about home and my wife, who apparently misses me so much that she weeps every day and night. My father is so depressed at the departure of my mother that he lives in poverty like a peasant on a very fertile farm. Mopes around all day, and doesnt tend the farm. Three times I tried to embrace her and three times she slipped through my arms, and warned me to leave speedily. All of a sudden the ghosts of women a wives each with a question. The first ghost was married to Aeolus son, and was raped but the lord of the earthquake. She became the mother of Pelias and Neleus. Next I met Antiope, who had once slept with Zeus then Alcmene the mother of brave Heracles. And then I saw the wife of Heracles. I met Epicaste her son killed his father and her as his wife. Next was Chloris she was married of for beauty and gave birth to gorgeous children. I met a lot of ghost but soon I was exhausted and Alcinous begged me to stay for a night or two until he had prepared gifts for me. I told him I would be happy to live with him for a year as long as I got home safely. He asked me if I met any of the ghosts of the men that had died at the battle of Illium. He said it was too early to go to bed and there was a lot more to talk about through the night. As I was really tired I told him that I needed to go to bed. Persephone guided all the womens ghosts away but I was approached but the soul of Agamemnon. I asked him how he died expecting it to be some major fight, instead he told me that he was tricked into a feast and was slaughtered at the table. Agamemnon told me never to trust a woman as they always betray you. There was no need for him to tell me this, (being as experience with women as I am with a sword) I already knew it. He asked after his son yet I had no idea where he was. Now came the ghost of Achilles he asked me how I manage to get into hell and still live I answered him, telling him the truth I had come to ask the prophet for advice on getting home to Ithica, I told him not to grieve over his death as he is still remembered on earth and powerful among ghosts. He too asked after his son, I knew about his son, he had been on one of my ships and we were in the wooden horse together, he was nearly as brave as I though the others were all scared. He left the battle of troy unscathed, which is quite remarkable when Mars is angry. As well as these famous people I spoke to Ajax, King Minos, Orion and Tityus. I experienced Tantalus and Sisyphus. As soon as Heracles drank the blood he recognised me. He talked to me for a while and then went in to Hades hall. There were so many other ghosts I want to meet and share stories with. But I feared Hades would come up, so I hurried off to my ship my men started to row helped by a kind wind.


Scylla And Charybdis


We headed back to Aeaea, because of my promise to Elpenor. We found his body and dug a grave for him. After we had burned his body with his armour on, we put his ashes into his grave. We found a large rock suitable for a headstone, and heaved it up a hill to rest on his grave. Circe had noticed our return, she was shocked that we had managed to return from the halls of Hades, and came up to greet us. She brought us bread and drink, and offered us a home for the night, so we could leave fresh in the morning. She gave us the route to take that would lead us around any evil scheming; the gods might have planned for us, on land or sea. All my men agreed, gratefully and we settled down with meat and wine. Later on my men settled down by the ships but Circe pulled me aside and asked how I managed to survive. She told me to be warned of the Sirens; as if I went to their singing I would never return home again. She explained to me what my men and I had to do to keep away. After the Sirens I have two options, either to sail past Scylla, a monster with six heads, or to go past Charybdis and risk my whole fleet being drowned. I foolishly asked `could I not use my amazing wit and sail straight through the middle of both? and she replied that it wasnt possible, she recommended to me that I should go past Scylla and risk six men rather than the whole fleet. She mentioned the same island that the Theban prophet had, and gave me the same advice, to leave all livestock alone, and then be able to make my way home safely. We set off followed by a helpful wind from Circe, we did not even need to row, just guide her through. I decided that my men should be warned about the dangers that we are to face, so that they can be prepared, and help each other. So I told them to tie me to the mast when we approached the Sirens and if I asked to be release, to tighten the ropes, and restrain me even more. I put wax into each mans ears so that they would not hear the songs of the Sirens and could concentrate on restraining me. When I heard the Sirens my men did exactly as I had asked, thankfully they obeyed every order. No sooner than we had escaped the Sirens song, than we saw the mighty waves of Charybdis. I gave a speech to my men telling them that we were tougher than we thought and we had survived many things ordinary men wouldnt have been able to. I told them to keep rowing and steer away from the waves. I disobeyed Circe and armed myself. I tried to scan the cliffs for the heads of Scylla but I couldnt see anything. Suddenly Charybdis began to drain the sea of its water. My men looked shocked and horrified, and while they were concentrating on her, Scylla reached out for six of my men, they screamed my name as she devoured them in her cave. I ordered my men to keep rowing, and try to ignore what had happened. When we had passed we saw the land of the sun god. This is the island Circe had warned me to stay away from, but my men were tired and irritated and so they begged me to let them land. And being the good leader that I am I agreed to let them as long as they promised me they wouldnt touch the cattle.





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