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Odysseus And His Extraordinary Journey

Odysseus And His Extraordinary Journey

In Greek Mythology, Odysseus was one of the greatest Greek leaders in the ten-year Trojan War. It was his idea to build a huge wooden horse and fill it with soldiers, which helped the Greeks capture Troy. Victorious, Odysseus and his twelve ships of men set off for home. It would be another ten years of peril and adventure before he arrived to take his place as the rightful King of Ithaca.

According to the legend, in the course of the journey, Odysseus’ ships went off course because of storms and landed on the island of the Cyclops. The travelers were captured by the man-eating Cyclops, which devoured several sailors. Odysseus gave the Cyclops a barrel of wine and the monster drank it and fell asleep. Then Odysseus set fire to a wooden stake using the remaining wine, and burned the Cyclops’ one eye, blinding him.

Another remarkable event that happened on the journey was Odysseus meeting and staying with Circe. Only Odysseus’s ship remained of the fleet when they visited the seductive witch-goddess Circe. She turned half of the remaining men into pigs. Odysseus used a magic drug to resist Circe’s magic. Amazed at his powers, she fell in love with him and released his men. They feasted on the island for a whole year before finally leaving for Ithaca.

Another legendary event on the journey of Odysseus was the passage between Scylla and Charybdis. Scylla was a six-headed monster and Charybdis a fearsome whirlpool, very close to Scylla. Odysseus directed his men to row directly between the two. But Scylla seized the ship’s oars and ate six men. But this was considered better than losing the entire ship in Charybdis, the whirlpool. (This has given rise to the idiom ‘being between Scylla and Charybdis’ which means having to choose between equally dangerous extremes. Similar idioms in meaning are ‘between the devil and the deep blue sea’ and ‘between a rock and a hard place’.)

Towards the end of the journey, when Odysseus’s men ignored warnings not to hunt the sun god’s sacred cattle, their folly led to Odysseus’s ship being destroyed by a thunderbolt. Only Odysseus survived, washing ashore on the island of the nymph Calypso. She forced him to remain as her lover for seven years before he finally escaped.

Eventually, Odysseus made it home, after twenty years away. But he still had to contend with several greedy suitors who were pestering his faithful wife, Penelope. With the help of his son and father, Odysseus slaughtered the suitors and eventually restored peace.

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