Homer's Odyssey: Know This Greek Myth


     Homer's Odyssey is one of the most famous works in Greek Mythology, as it is the story of the hero Odysseus. During this Myth, the Hero encounters a series of challenges, get to know his summary.

First of all... What is Odyssey?

     Odyssey is one of the two main epic poems from Ancient Greece attributed to Homer. It is a sequel to the Iliad, another work credited to the author, and is a fundamental poem in the Western canon. Historically, it is the second - the first being the Iliad itself - work in Western literature.

     The Odyssey, like the Iliad, is a poem elaborated over centuries of oral tradition, having its form fixed in writing, probably in the late 8th century BC The Homeric language combines different dialects, including ancient reminiscences of the Greek language, resulting, therefore, in an artificial language, however understood.

On his journey, Odysseus encounters several challenges such as: The Cyclops Polyphemus, the Sea Serpent Scylla, the Monster of the Deep Charybdis, the Greek Gods Zeus, Hermes and several others...

The History of the Odyssey in Summary:

     Odysseus, who spent seven years in captivity on the island of Calypso. She is persuaded to release him by the messenger god, Hermes, sent by Zeus. Odysseus builds a raft and receives clothing, food and drink from Calypso; he ends up sinking, however, through Poseidon work, and is forced to swim to the island of Escheria where, naked and exhausted, he hides in a pile of leaves and falls asleep. The next morning, awakened by the laughter of approaching girls, he sees the young Nausicaa, who has come with her maids to wash clothes by the sea.

     Odysseus asks her for help, who encourages him to seek the hospitality of her country, Aretê and Alcinoo. Odysseus, who initially does not identify himself, is welcomed; he stays there for several days, participates in a pentathlon, and listens to blind singer Demodochus perform two narrative poems. The first is an obscure incident from the Trojan War, the "Dispute between Odysseus and Achilles", while the second is the narrative of a love affair between two Olympian gods, Ares and Aphrodite. Odysseus then asks Demodochus to return to the subject of the Trojan War, which tells about the Trojan Horse, a ploy in which Odysseus had played a crucial role. Unable to hide his emotions as he narrates the episode, Odysseus finally reveals his identity, and begins to tell the fantastic story of his return to Troy.

     After a piratical incursion into Ismara, in the land of the cycones, Odysseus and his twelve ships are driven off course by storms. They then visit the lethargic Lotus Eaters, and are captured by the Cyclops Polyphemus, from which he escapes only after blinding him with a sharp piece of wood. They are received by Aeolus, lord of the winds, who gives Odysseus a leather bag containing all the winds (except the west wind), a gift that should have guaranteed the journey home; his sailors, however, foolishly opened the sack while Odysseus slept, thinking it contained gold; all the wind flew out of the sack, and the resulting storm sent the ships back where they had come from, when Ithaca had just appeared on the horizon.

Isle of the Witch Circe:

     Upon returning to Circe's island, they are advised by her on the remaining stages of their journey. After coasting through the land of the mermaids, they pass between Scylla, a many-headed monster, and the whirlpool Caribds, and reach the island of Trinacia. There, Odysseus' men ignore the warnings of Tiresias and Circe, and slaughter the sacred cattle of the sun god Helios; this sacrilege brings them as punishment a shipwreck, where everyone drowns, with the exception of Odysseus, who manages to reach the island of Calypso, a nymph who forces him to become her lover for seven years, until he manages to escape.

     After listening carefully to the story, the Phaeacians, experienced sailors, agree to help Odysseus return home. They leave him at night, while he is in a deep sleep, in a hidden harbor in Ithaca. There he manages to reach the home of one of his former slaves, the pig herder Eumeu. Odysseus disguises himself as a wandering beggar, to find out how things stand at his residence.

     After dinner, he tells the farm workers a fictional story about himself; he claims to have been born in Crete, and to have led a group of Cretans who fought alongside the Greeks in the Trojan War, and who had spent seven years at the court of the king of Egypt, and then was shipwrecked in Tesprocia, whence Ithaca would have come.

     Meanwhile, Telemachus sails home from Sparta, fleeing an ambush prepared by the suitors. He lands on the coast of Ithaca and goes to Eumeus' house; there, father and son meet, and Odysseus identifies himself to the son (though not yet to Eumeus), and they decide that the suitors must be killed. Telemachus arrives at his home first; accompanied by Eumyus, Odysseus returns to his home, still pretending to be a beggar, and witnesses the riots of the suitors. He meets Penelope, and tests his intentions with an invented story about his birth in Crete where, according to him, he met Odysseus. Upon questioning, he adds that he had also recently been to Theprocia, where he had been informed of Odysseus' recent travels.

Finishing the Story:

     Her identity is discovered by the housekeeper, Euriclea, when she washes her feet and discovers an old scar that Odysseus had, the result of a wild boar hunt; he makes her swear to secrecy. The next day, instigated by Athena, Penelope convinces the suitors to compete for her hand, in an archery competition, using Odysseus' bow - who participates in the competition, still disguised, and after being the only one with sufficient strength to bend the bow, wins it. Odysseus then proceeds to shoot arrows at the suitors; with the help of Athena, Telemachus, Eumaeus, and Philotheus, a shepherd, all are killed; Odysseus still executes, along with Telemachus, twelve of the servants of the house who had had sex with the suitors, and, after mutilating them, they also execute the goat herder Melancio, who had mocked Odysseus and mistreated him.

     Odysseus then finally identifies himself to Penelope, who hesitantly accepts him after he describes her the bed he would have built for her after they were married. The next day Odysseus and Telemachus visit the farm of their old father, Laerte, who also only accepts his identity after seeing Odysseus correctly describe the orchard that Laerte had once given him.

     The citizens of Ithaca, however, follow Odysseus and Telemachus along the road, planning to avenge the deaths of the suitors, their children. The group's leader claims that Odysseus had caused the deaths of two generations of Ithaca's men - his sailors, none of whom had survived the return journey, and the suitors, whom he had now executed. The goddess Athena intervenes personally, and convinces both sides to abandon revenge. Ithaca is finally at peace again, and the Odyssey is completed.

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