The Voyage Home
  Return to Ithaca


Genealogy: House of Odysseus


Related articles:
    The Trojan War
    Heroes II






  Odyssey
  Ismarus
  Lotus-Eaters
  Polyphemus      
  Aeolus
  Laestrygonians
  Circe
  Underworld
  Sirens
  Scylla and Charybdis
  Cattle of the Sun-god
  Calypso
  Phaeacia



Odyssey
 

Odyssey is an epic poem, written by Homer, about the adventures of the Greek hero, Odysseus (Ὀδυσσεύς).

Odysseus was the son of Laërtes (Laertes) and Anticleia. Odysseus had married Penelope, a daughter of Icarius and the cousin of Helen of Sparta. Penelope bore Odysseus a son, who they named Telemachus.

Odysseus was the king of the island of Ithaca. With twelve ships, he sailed to and fought in Troy for ten years. He was one of the Greek best warriors, who masterminded the fall of Troy with the stratagem of the Wooden Horse.

Odysseus would suffered another ten years of wandering before the gods allowed him to set foot on his small, but beloved island of Ithaca.

To read more about this hero, read Odysseus in Heroes II.


I would to leave some notes to the visitors about this page.

Here you would find that story begins with Odysseus arriving at Ismarus, after the Fall of Troy. So beginning at Ismarus, I have listed all of Odysseus' other adventures in a chronological fashion until the end, without break of the timeline.

But if you were to actually read the Odyssey from start to finish, the story begins on the ninth year of Odysseus' wandering, with Athena intervening on Odysseus' behalf in the assembly of the gods, then at Ithaca, where the goddess lead Telemachus, son of Odysseus in short quest to find news about his father, from Odysseus' former comrades in Pylos and Sparta.

You won't meet Odysseus until Book 5 of the Odyssey, in Calypso's island. From there, Odysseus left the goddess and arrived in Scherië, island of the Phaeacians. From Book 9 to 12, Odysseus recount his adventures to his Phaeacian hosts, from his departure from Troy to the island of Calypso, until his arrival to their island. From here, the Odyssey returned to the normal timeline, from Odysseus' departure from Scherië to his homecoming in Ithaca.

 
Related Information
Sources
The Odyssey, written by Homer.

Library, written by Apollodorus.

Related Articles
Odysseus.
Trojan War, Fall of Troy.

Genealogy:
   House of Odysseus
   House of Sparta.



Ismarus
 

Odysseus' twelve ships was untroubled by the storm that Poseidon used to wreck most of the Greek fleet and killed the Lesser Ajax, because Odysseus did not incur Athena's enmity at the fall of Troy.

Odysseus stopped and sacked the city Ismarus. Ismarus was a Cicone city in Thrace. It would seem that Odysseus and his men took the city by surprise without a single loss of men. They had their plunder, including women, but his men weren't satisfied. Odysseus gave the order to his men, to return to the ships, but the men wanted to stay longer, and began drinking and feasting.

As a result, Cicones from neighboring towns, gathered and sent an army against the Ithacans. Their gain from the looting was offset by Odysseus losing 72 men – killing six men from each ship.

 
Related Information
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Odysseus, Poseidon, Athena, Lesser Ajax.

Fall of Troy.



Lotus-Eaters
 

As they were about to round the southern tip of Peloponnesus, 9 days of squally wind (sent by Zeus) that drove Odysseus' ships southward, where they met the Lotus-eaters. Considering that the Odysseus' ships were near Cythera when the storm hit, being driven south would mean that the land of the Lotus-eaters be located somewhere in Libya.

The plant Lotus caused anyone who eat the flower or seeds (or fruit), to forget who he was, and his only interest was to eat more of the plants. Odysseus sent small group of men to investigate the land. They encountered the Lotus-eaters, and ate the fruit and flowers, and forgot the reason why they were there and forgot their home.

Odysseus had to find his men and force them back to the ships, before he left the land of the Lotus-eaters.

 
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Odysseus.



Polyphemus
 

Odysseus' ships sailed for unknown period of time, before landing his ships in the land of the Cyclops, which could be Sicily as indicated by later traditions. Here, Odysseus and twelve of his men went in search of supplies.

They come across cave that was obviously inhabited by a giant. Odysseus insisted on meeting the inhabitant in the hope of exchanging gifts with his host. Polyphemus (Πολύφημος), a Cyclops and son of Poseidon, drove his giant herd of sheep into the cave and then blocked the huge cave entrance with a huge boulder. Finding intruders in the cave, he immediately killed and ate two of Odysseus' men. Then Polyphemus lay down and slept, not fearing attack from his intruders.

Knowing he would never be able to leave the cave if they kill the Cyclops, since the Ithacans were not strong enough to move the boulder that block their exit, Odysseus devised a plan. He and his men began sharpened a huge log of wood into a stake, during Polyphemus' absence the next day.

Two more of his men were killed upon Polyphemus' return. Odysseus gave the Cyclops some wine to wash down his meal. Odysseus brought this wine with him from Ismarus, given to him by Apollo's priest, Maron, as a gift or reward for saving his wife and children. Odysseus had brought this wine-skin from Maron, with him when he entered Polyphemus' lair.

Enjoying the wine, Polyphemus promised him some gift in return for some more wine. Asking for Odysseus' name, the hero reply that it was Outis (which means "Nobody" in Greek). Polyphemus promised to eat "Nobody" last.

Drunk, the Cyclops went wearily to bed. Odysseus and his men hardened the huge stake point in the fire pit, before driving the stake into Polyphemus' single eye, blinding the Cyclops. His cry caused the neighbouring Cyclopes to gather outside his cave, asking him what was wrong. Polyphemus replied was that "Nobody is killing me". The other Cyclopes returned to their own caves.

When Polyphemus had to let his herds to graze in the pasture the following day, Odysseus had tied each of his men to the bellies of three sheep, while he himself hanged on to the belly of huge ram.

Freed from the clutch of the Cyclops, Odysseus returned to the ships with his men and the giant's herds of sheep.

As they sailed away Odysseus couldn't suppressed his rage over the death of his companions. He shouted to Polyphemus, revealing his identity to the Cyclops that he, Odysseus has put out his eye. Polyphemus heard from a prophecy that he would lose his eye to a hero; Polyphemus thought that hero would be larger in size.

Blinded, unable to kill Odysseus, Polyphemus prayed to his father Poseidon for vengeance upon Odysseus. Therefore, he incurred Poseidon' enmity, who made him wandered the sea for ten years, before he was allowed return to Ithaca.

According to the Aeneid, the Trojan hero Aeneas would rescue Achaemenides, an Ithacan, who was left behind when Odysseus and his men escaped from Polyphemus.

 
Related Information
Related Articles
Sources
The Odyssey was written by Homer.

Library was written by Apollodorus.

Metamorphoses was written by Ovid.

Aeneid was written by Virgil.

Odysseus, Polyphemus, Poseidon, Cyclops.


Blinding of Polyphemus
Alessandro Allori
Fresco, 1580



Aeolus
 

Odysseus arrived on the island of Aeolia, ruled by the god Aeolus, Keeper of the Winds. Here, he was a guest for few days. Aeolus lived on the island with his wife, as well as his six sons and six daughters. Each of his son was married to one of his daughters.

Upon leaving, the wind-god gave Odysseus a bag made of ox-hide, trapping all the strong winds within. Aeolus warned Odysseus not to open the bag. Aeolus cause a favorable west wind, to blow Odysseus' ships towards Ithaca.

Odysseus sailed for nine straight days without sleep. The wind was fair and he sighted his island. Tired, Odysseus went below deck for short sleep. His men were greedy, and were curious to see what valuables was hidden in the bag, causing all the strong winds to escape.

The sudden storm drove his ships off course, lasted several days. Odysseus was driven all the way back to Aeolia. Aeolus realised that he must be cursed by some gods. Aeolus refused to help Odysseus again.

According to Parthenius, Odysseus had seduced one of Aeolus' daughters, named Polymela. When Aeolus found out he would have punished Odysseus, but the hero had already left the island, so Aeolus would have punished his daughter. Diores, however, intervened on his sister's behalf, and persuaded his father to let him marry Polymela.

 
Related Information
Related Articles
Sources
The Odyssey was written by Homer.

Love Stories (or Erotica Pathemata) was written by Parthenius.

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Odysseus, Aeolus



Laestrygonians
 

After sailing for seven days, they arrived at the Laestrygonian city of Telepylus. Telepylus had an excellent harbour, which was enclosed on all by cliffs, with only a small channel. Where Telepylus was located, is not known.

The Laestrygonians were giants, ruled by their king Antiphates. Not much is known about the Laestrygonians, apart from the Odysseus' myth. Jason and the Argonauts never encountered the Laestrygonians.

All but Odysseus' own ship entered the harbour. A party of Ithacans was sent to find if the people in Telepylus were hospitable or not. The party first met Antiphates' daughter, who directed them to her father's palace. Before they met Antiphates, they met his wife, and realised to their horror that she was taller than the men. Antiphates' wife immediately called out to her husband, where they immediately attack the Ithacan party, and ate the unfortunate Ithacans. Only two of Ithacans managed to escape back to the ship. But by this time, the whole city was roused. Thousands of Laestrygonians chased them to the harbour, surrounding the harbour, all around the cliff. The safe harbour became a death trap.

The Laestrygonians hurled large rocks at the Ithacan fleet, destroying and sinking eleven ships that entered their harbour, killing and feasting on Odysseus' men.

Only his own ship escaped from being attacked and slaughtered. Odysseus watched helplessly before ordering his men to row away from the horrible island.

 
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Odysseus.



Circe
 

The men were tired and demoralised by the death, when they arrived on the island of Aeaea, ruled by Circe (Κίρκη). Circe was the daughter of sun god Helius and the Oceanid Perse. She was sorceress and immortal herself. Men, whom she had transformed into animals, guarded her island.

When Odysseus sent twelve men to investigate the island, only one had return. The other eleven men, who became guests of Circe, were transformed into swine. Eurylochus, the one who escaped Circe's enchantment, returned to Odysseus with the news; Eurylochus was the hero's brother-in-law, for he married Ctimene, Odysseus' sister. Odysseus himself went to the Circe's palace.

On his way there, he met the god Hermes who gave him some berry from the plant "moly", which would make the eater immune to sorcery.

When Circe tried to cast the spell upon Odysseus and failed, Odysseus threatened to kill her with his sword. Circe, who learned from prophecy earlier, that she would become mistress of the one whom was immune to her magic. The Circe readily surrendered to Odysseus.

At his request, Circe changed Odysseus' men back to human. Odysseus became her lover and he stayed with the sorceress for one year. Circe bore Odysseus three sons – Agrius, Latinus and Telegonus.

Even though, Circe knew of Odysseus' longing to return home, she offered him immortality, if he would stay with her as her husband. Odysseus politely refused such offer. It was never Odysseus desired to leave his kingdom, wife and infant son when he joined the war. He had no desire to trade what he have at home for immortality and ageless, beautiful wife, like Circe.

 
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Odysseus, Circe, Hermes.

Argonauts.



Underworld
 

When Odysseus decided it was time to sail home, Circe advised him to go the Underworld and talk to the shade of the seer Teiresias. Odysseus had to sail until he come to the shore, where the grove of Persephone. This shore was off the stream Oceanus.

Odysseus was to give the seer a drink from the blood of a black sheep, so the ghost could talk to him. The seer told him, if he and his men wish to return to Ithaca, they must not eat the herd of cattle belonging to the sun-god Helius on the island of Thrinacia.

Teiresias told him after he return home, he must make a new journey to appeased the sea-god Poseidon as well as foretelling his death from old age would come the sea.

Odysseus talked to his mother Anticlea, who died of grief when he did not return home after the Trojan War. Odysseus was also surprised to see Elphenor, the youngest member of his crew, in the Underworld. Elphenor was sitting on the roof of Circe's house, when he had fallen asleep and fell to his death.

Odysseus also talk to Greek leaders who fought with him in Troy: Agamemnon, who was killed by his wife and her lover upon his return home; Achilles who ruled that part of the Underworld; and the hero, Telamonian Ajax, who refused to talk to him. Even dead, Ajax was still angry with Odysseus and had not forgiven him (see armour of Achilles for the reason why Ajax refused to talk to Odysseus).

He met and conversed with other heroes and rulers, famous women, and finally the mortal half of Heracles (the other half lived in Olympus with the gods). The shade of Heracles still looked as impressive now as he did when he was alive.

Odysseus panic and fled back to his ship, when he was overwhelmed by so many ghosts around him, because they wanted to drink the blood from the sacrifice so they could talk to him.

Returning to Aeaea, Circe gave further instructions to Odysseus about the Sirens, and Scylla and Charybdis. Before he left the island, Odysseus recovered Elphenor's body and buried the young Ithacan.

 
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Odysseus, Circe, Teiresias, Agamemnon, Achilles, Telamonian Ajax, armour of Achilles, Heracles.



Sirens
 

The Sirens (Σει&rhoἣνες) were either nymphs or monsters with a body of half-bird and half-women. Their song for centuries had lured sailors to their death. They lived on the island called Anthemoessa, off the Italian coast.

The Argonauts managed to pass safely through the island, because their bard Orpheus sang in a voice that drowned out the Sirens' deadly song. Odysseus had no such singer on board his ship.

Following Circe's instruction, he filled his crew's ears with melted wax, while he had the crew tied him to the mast. Odysseus was curious about what song the Sirens would sing. Homer doesn't give us any detail of the song that they sang.

Any time that Odysseus tried to order his crew to release him, they would instead bound him more tightly to the mast. They only released Odysseus when they sailed safely pass the island.

When the Sirens failed to lure a single sailor to his death, one or all of them drowned themselves.

 
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Odysseus, Circe, Sirens.

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Odysseus and the Sirens
John William Waterhouse
Oil on canvas, 1891
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne



Scylla and Charybdis
 

After passing the Sirens, they were moving towards the Strait of Messina, where lie Scylla and Charybdis. On one side of the strait was Charybdis (Χάρυβδις), a giant whirlpool, whereas Scylla was the six-headed monster that resides on the other side of the strait.

Scylla (Σκύλλη) was originally a maiden, whom a minor sea-god Glaucus fell madly in love with. Circe was in love with Glaucus, but the sea-god did not return his love to the jealous sorceress. In a jealous rage, Circe turned unfortunate girl into a hideous monster with six heads.

About a generation or two ago, Argonauts had safely sailed through the Scylla and Charybdis, because the goddess Thetis aided them.

Circe advised Odysseus that he couldn't avoid both. If he sails near Scylla he would lose only six of his men, but if he sails near the Charybdis, the force of the whirlpool would destroy the entire vessel. Circe also told them, not to waste their time fighting Scylla; otherwise he would lose twelve men instead of six.

So Odysseus followed Circe's prudent advice, and chosen to sail near Scylla, who snatched and killed six of his men, one for each head. Odysseus urged his men to row for their lives; not stopping to fight Scylla. Not too far away was the island of Thrinacia.

 
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Odysseus, Circe, Thetis, Scylla.

Argonauts.


Scylla
Carving from Milos, 5th century BC
British Museum, London



Cattle of the Sun-god
 

Bad weather prevented Odysseus' ship to sail on. They took refuge on the island of Thrinacia. Odysseus warned them not to kill and eat the cattle of the sun god Helius. Though they were stocked with plenty of supply from Circe's island, after a month or more of bad wind, their foods were soon gone.

When Odysseus went to pray to gods for break in weather, Eurylochus, Odysseus' brother-in-law, told the crew that it was better to die at sea instead of starvation, so they should eat the cattle of Helius, and appease the sun god by sacrificing some of the cattle. The crew agreed with Eurylochus, so Odysseus' crew killed some of the cattle and ate them, during his absence. The crew also sacrificed to the sun god, but the offerings were in vain.

The sun god Helius appealed to Zeus that Odysseus' men who ate his cattle must be punished. Zeus had no choice, but to agree. Odysseus returned to the ship and discovered what his crew had done and berated them. They protested that they rather drown in the sea than starved to death.

The next day, the weather calmed and favourable wind blew. They immediately departed from the island. After an hour or so, having left the island, a sudden, violent storm broke out, driving the ship back towards Charybdis. Thunderbolt from Zeus wrecked the ship. Those who did not drown were sucked into the whirlpool of Charybdis.

Only Odysseus survived, clinging to broken keel. For several days, the hero drifted in the sea until he arrived to the island of Ogygia.

 
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Calypso
 

The minor goddess Calypso resided on the island of Ogygia. Calypso was the daughter of the Titan Atlas.

Here the hero lived with the goddess as her lover for about eight years. Calypso became the mother of Nausinoüs and Nausithoüs. Odysseus was often homesick, looked towards the east, wondering if he would ever return to his home and family.

On the tenth year since Odysseus left Troy, Athena acted on the hero's behalf, during Poseidon's absence from Olympus. Athena asked the assembled gods and Zeus, that Odysseus had suffered enough: that he should return home to his little kingdom Ithaca, to his wife Penelope and son Telemachus. On Ithaca, Penelope has trouble with suitors for the last three years. Zeus agreed and sent Hermes to Ogygia to inform Calypso of his decision.

Calypso, who wanted to make Odysseus her husband, was planning on making the hero immortal. Reluctantly Calypso consented to help Odysseus return home. Odysseus built a boat. He left Ogygia and sailed in fair weather for seventeen days.

Then Poseidon on his way back to Olympus saw his mortal enemy in the sea; Poseidon sent a violent storm. The storm destroyed Odysseus' boat.

Odysseus would have drowned had not a minor sea-goddess, named Leucothea (formerly known as Ino), took pity on him, gave Odysseus her magic veil that would keep him afloat. Odysseus swam for two days before arriving on the island of Scherië (Scherie).


(Please note that the actual epic of the Odyssey began with the council of the gods, on the tenth year since Troy had fallen to the Greeks. The order of the Odyssey by Homer is different from my account of the Odyssey.)

 
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Calypso, Καλυψώ – "Oblivion"?.

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Phaeacia
 

Scherië (Scherie) was ruled by Alcinoüs (Alcinous, Ἀλκίνοος), king of the Phaeacians, and his queen (and niece), Arete (Ἀρέτη). They ruled together as equal. A generation ago, the Argonauts came to their island, where Jason and Medea were married.

Their daughter Nausicaä (Ναυσικάα); decided to wash some clothes and have picnic with her companions. She discovered Odysseus, who was naked. Giving him some clothes, she directed him to the city and palace. Nausicaä (Nausicaa) also advised him to go to her mother as suppliant. Her parents took pity on him; he was fed and given a room to sleep as guest.

The next day, they honoured him with banquet, and asked him how he reached their island. Odysseus revealed his identity, of his part in Troy, and finally of his long journey to reach home, in the hope of being reunited with his family.

The Phaeacians being descended from Poseidon, were the finest seamen, Alcinoüs offered to send him home. Phaeacians hosts and their guests gave him many gifts. He sailed on the next day to Ithaca.

For days as they rowed to Ithaca, Odysseus stood on the bow of the ship, refusing to sleep until he reached Ithaca. Before he arrived home, Athena made the hero fall asleep. The Phaeacians put the sleeping hero, along with his gifts on the beach of Ithaca.

 
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  Penelope
  Telemachus
  Ithaca: Father and Son
  At the Palace: Suitors
  Guest and Old Scar
  Battle in the Hall
  Recognition



Penelope
 

Penelope was the daughter of Icarius, who was cousin or brother to Tyndareus, king of Sparta; therefore, Penelope was the cousin of Helen. As suitor of Penelope, Odysseus had won her in a foot-race. She married Odysseus and bore him a son Telemachus. When Odysseus left his home for Troy, Telemachus was still an infant.

When Odysseus did not return home after the Trojan War, which had ended seven years ago, the palace began to fill with unwanted suitors, who were living off Odysseus' wealth. They arrogantly refused to leave Penelope alone, until she chosen one of them as her husband.

Her son, Telemachus was still too young to oppose the suitors, and her father-in-law Laërtes (Laertes) was too old to support Penelope. Though, Laërtes, according to some accounts, had sailed as an Argonaut with Jason, Laërtes could not oppose the numerous suitors who frequented the palace, so the old hero lived a private life, attending his garden.

Not long after the war in Troy, her mother-in-law, Anticlea, daughter of Autolycus, had died in grief when she heard no news of her son. But Anticlea does meet her son, when Odysseus had to consult with the shade of the blind seer, Teiresias.

Penelope tried to stall the suitors by pleading she needed to weave shroud for her old father-in-law, Laërtes (Laertes), but at night she secretly unravel her weaving.

For three years, this ruse worked until one of her maids, Melantho, who was a mistress to one of the suitors, betrayed the queen. Penelope was forced to finish the shroud.

 
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Odysseus, Penelope, Telemachus, Helen, Tyndareus, Autolycus.

Genealogy:
   House of Odysseus
   House of Sparta.


Penelope
Spencer Stanhope, 1864
De Morgan Foundation, London



Telemachus
 

Though Telemachus (Τηλέμαχος) has grown to manhood, he was not strong enough to remove the suitors from his father's palace, and was desperate for some news about his father. The few men, who were loyal to Odysseus, were mostly old men, and servants; they were not strong enough to resist the nobles.

There were 108 suitors for his mother. Most of suitors were nobles, so Telemachus had no one strong enough to support him. Telemachus was only an infant when his father left for Troy.

One day, the goddess Athena was disguised as Mentor, and advised the young prince, to seek news from Nestor in Pylus. Together with Mentor (Athena), Telemachus secretly slipped out of the palace and sailed to Pylus.

At Pylus, Nestor told them how some returned home safely, while others were either driven off course or were killed by the storm sent by Poseidon. Nestor told him he have not seen nor heard news of Odysseus since they left Troy, when the war ended.

According to a fragment, attributed to Hesiod, during his short stayed in Pylus, Telemachus slept with Polycaste, Nestor's daughter, and became the father of Persepolis.

The old king sends Telemachus with his son Pisistratus to Sparta, where Telemachus spoke to Menelaüs (Menelaus) and met Helen. Helen and Menelaüs recognised Telemachus as the son of Odysseus, since the young man looked so much like his father. Telemachus asked if the Spartan king had any news of his father.

Menelaüs told Telemachus how he left Troy, without honouring the gods with sacrifices. His ships were driven off course, finally arriving in Egypt. For seven years, unfavourable winds kept shore bound in Egypt.

To return home to Sparta, Menelaüs and his men must capture the sea-god Proteus and find out why he could not return home.

Like many sea-deities, Proteus had the gift to foresee the future, as well as the ability to change his shapes into different animals. If Menelaüs can hold Proteus, as the god underwent various transformations in order to escape, the god would eventually surrender and agreed to tell him how was he to return home.

Menelaüs and his men captured Proteus and held him until the god surrendered to him. Proteus told Menelaüs, he was kept in Egypt as punishment for not honouring the gods with sacrifices. After Troy fell, Menelaüs was angry how long the war lasted and how many of his comrades had fallen. Proteus told him that he was to give proper sacrifices to Zeus and the other gods, to appease their anger, and pray that he would have a safe journey home.

Menelaüs asked news of his other comrades. Proteus told him many were killed before they reached home. Few leaders reached home safely. Menelaüs' brother, Agamemnon was killed by their cousin, Aegisthus. Proteus also told Odysseus was still alive but was trapped on the island belonging to the nymph, named Calypso.

As Telemachus was taking his leave, Menelaüs gave him some gifts to take home with. Telemachus travelled back to Pylus where his ship was anchored.

Back in Ithaca, some suitor plotted to ambush Telemachus' ship on his return trip. But Athena aided Telemachus in reaching Ithaca, undetected.

 
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Name
Telemachus – "Far-reached".

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Penelope, Odysseus, Nestor, Menelaüs, Helen, Agamemnon, Clytemnestra, Aegisthus, Athena, Proteus.

Genealogy:
   House of Odysseus
   House of Sparta.


Telemachus and Mentor
Pablo E. Fabisch
Book illustration for Fenelon's 'Adventures of Telemaco'



Ithaca: Father and Son
 

Meanwhile, the Phaeacians left Odysseus on the beach of Ithaca, still asleep, while they quietly unload Odysseus' rich gifts on the shore.

When Odysseus had woken from his sleep, he thought the Phaeacians had abandoned him on an island other than his own kingdom. Odysseus could not recognise the island, because it was shrouded in heavy fog (sent by the goddess Athena).

Odysseus then encountered a man he didn't recognise, where Odysseus had cautiously lied to the stranger in order to find out where he was.

The stranger had delightfully laughed at Odysseus' clever tale. The stranger then shred off his disguise and transformed back to her true form, revealing to the hero, his long-time patroness – Athena. Far from offended by Odysseus' lies, the goddess of wisdom warmly admired the hero's prudent and cunning.

Athena dispersed the fog, revealing to Odysseus his home. The goddess told him that his home was being overrun with Penelope's suitors and advised Odysseus that it would be prudent to first assess the situation at the palace, before deciding on the plan to resolve the situation. Athena used her power to disguise him as old man. Odysseus then met a swineherd Eumaeus, who entertained his guest in his hut.

Then Athena guided Telemachus' ship to avoid an ambush set up by the suitors, returning him home safely home. Telemachus went the swineherd's hut. While Eumaeus quietly went to inform the Queen of her son's return, Odysseus revealed his identity to his son, and together they planned how to dispose of the suitors. Odysseus will go to the palace in the disguised as old beggar, to assess and judge the situation for himself, before taking any action.

 
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At the Palace: Suitors
 

Returning to the palace, Telemachus began secretly hiding the suitors' weapons, while Odysseus talked to the suitors. He tried to warn to suitors to leave before Odysseus' return. Some suitors were uneasy by the beggar's pronouncement. Some suitors insulted him, while one suitor actually threw a footstool at Odysseus.

A young beggar named, Irus, challenged the hero into a boxing match. Though he was disguised as an old beggar, the suitors were quite impressed with his physical form as he stripped off his cloak. Odysseus knocked out Irus with one blow to the ear.

Only Odysseus' faithful hound Argus recognised him before the old dog died at his master's feet.

 
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Guest and Old Scar
 

Soon, Penelope heard that a beggar was in her palace and sent for Odysseus. As a beggar, Odysseus introduced himself as Aethon, son of Deucalion and brother of Idomeneus. Odysseus had inventively fabricated a story of meeting her husband (Odysseus). Disguised as a beggar, Odysseus told her, how he met her husband and he reassured her that he would return soon.

Penelope also confided to the beggar about her dream about the flock of twenty geese, but an eagle came and all the geese. The beggar advised Penelope that her husband's return was imminent.

Penelope decided to hold a contest of strength, in the morning, to decide which suitor would take her husband's place. Seeing this opportunity, Odysseus agreed with the trial should go ahead as she planned it. (This was also in her dream last night, when Athena advised her to use the bow to test the suitors.)

Not convinced about his tales, nevertheless, grateful to the beggar, Penelope sent Odysseus' old nurse Eurycleia to wash the beggar's feet.


The author then write, about the time Odysseus was born. Eurycleia had placed the infant (Odysseus) on his grandfather's lap. Odysseus' grandfather was none other than Autolycus, the mythical master thief. The nurse asked Autolycus to give a name to the newborn child. Autolycus called him Odysseus, because Autolycus says that:

"In the course of my lifetime I have made enemies of many a man and a woman up and down the wide world. So let this child be called Odysseus, 'the victim of enmity...'"

Homer, The Odyssey,
translated by E. V. Reiu



A very strange name to give to a grandson, but it proved true. Odysseus does have many enemies.

When Odysseus grown to a young man, he visited his grandfather (Autolycus), he went on a hunting trip. Odysseus killed his first wild boar, but that beast had wounded him in his thigh. From this hunting trip Odysseus received a recognisable scar.

Homer then returned to the story.


Odysseus realised that if anyone who could recognise his old scar, it would be his old nurse Eurycleia, even though he was disguised as an old beggar. For the first time since entering the palace, Odysseus felt uneasy.

So, the Eurycleia washed the beggar's feet and legs. The moment Eurycleia felt the scar, the old nurse immediately recognised it. Eurycleia was on the point of revealing his identity in joy.

Odysseus stopped her, with his hand gripping her throat. Odysseus knew that to expose his true identity to anyone, would jeopardize plan for revenge against the suitors. Odysseus warned her not tell anyone, threatening her with death, even though he love the old nurse dearly. Eurycleia silently agreed to keep her king's secrets, even from her Queen.

 
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Odysseus, Penelope, Telemachus, Autolycus, Deucalion, Idomeneus.



Battle in the Hall
 

Though, Penelope was comfort with the news of the beggar, she dismissed such hope.

The next day in the banquet hall, Penelope had decided to take one of the suitors as her husband, if that suitor could string Odysseus' bow and shoot an arrow through rings of twelve axes in a row.

According to Homer, he tells that Iphitus had given the bow to Odysseus, when the hero was a young man. The bow had belonged to Iphitus' father, Eurytus, the king of Oechalia. Eurytus had been killed by Apollo. But according to the story of Heracles, Heracles had killed Iphitus after the twelve labours, but Homer says that Zeus had killed Iphitus. Later, in his battle against Oechalia, Heracles killed Eurytus, before Heracles' own death. Odysseus never took this bow with him to the war in Troy. See Death of Iphitus and the Death of Heracles.

Telemachus saw the advantage of taking his revenge upon the suitors, said that he would see if he was strong enough to string his father's bow. His excuse was to test his manly strength. Telemachus failed to string the bow, but he was closer than anyone to being successful. Failing this, Telemachus handed the bow, for each suitor to try.

While the suitors were unsuccessfully trying to string the bow, Odysseus revealed himself to two faithful servants, Eumaeus the swineherd and Philoetius the cowman. Odysseus told them of his plan for revenge. The two servants secretly barred the doors within hall, to prevent the suitors from escaping. They also secretly removed the rest of the weapons from the hall.

When all the suitors had failed the test, to string the bow, Odysseus offered to try stringing the bow. The suitors protested, but Penelope insisted that all would be allow and try their hands on the bow. Telemachus sends her mother back to her apartment, while the servants began locking the doors to the courtyard.

Receiving the bow, Odysseus effortlessly strung the bow, plucking the string as if he was tuning the lute. Then without stirring from his position, Odysseus unerringly shot the arrow through the twelve axes. The suitors were astonished at the beggar's strength and marksmanship. Athena immediately removed Odysseus' disguise, and restore Odysseus' face. After revealing his identity to the suitors, his next arrow killed Antinous and then Eurymachus.

The suitors panic, as Odysseus shot down the suitors with his deadly arrows. Some of the suitors managed to find weapons, because the treacherous goatherd, Melantheus, had revealed the location of the hidden weapons. Eumaeus and Philoetius discovered the goatherd's treachery; they caught and bound Melantheus, so that Odysseus could deal with him later.

Even when Odysseus ran out of arrows, he killed them with spear, sword or axe. Together with his son and his two loyal servants, they fought against the unruly suitors, until all 108 suitors were killed to the last man.

Two men threw themselves on the ground before Odysseus' feet. One of them was a priest named Leodes, while the other was a minstrel, named Phemius. Odysseus killed the priest with his sword, because he knew of Leodes' treachery, but the hero spared the bard, because the suitors had forced Phemius to entertain for them.

Twelve other servants who had betrayed him and his family were hanged. Among those who were hanged, were the brother and sister, the treacherous goatherd Melantheus and maidservant Melantho, children of Dolius. Penelope had brought Melantho up with her son Telemachus, but she betrayed the Queen, by becoming the mistress of the suitor Eurymachus. Dolius and his other sons were loyal to both Odysseus and Penelope.

Then, Odysseus ordered the other servants to clean the hall, while he cleaned himself before seeing Penelope.

 
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Death of Iphitus, Death of Heracles.



Recognition
 

When the battle was over, his old nurse rushed to Penelope's chamber with the news; Eurycleia told her mistress that Odysseus has returned home and that her suitors were all dead. Penelope doubted Eurycleia, thinking the nurse was insane.

Even though, she met her husband, Penelope was not convinced until Odysseus told them of the secret that only she and her husband knew. In their bedroom, she asked Odysseus to move the bed for her. Odysseus told her the bed couldn't be move because he had carved the bed out of a tree trunk, when they had married over twenty years ago.

What he had told her was the truth. Penelope was finally convinced that the man who stood before her was her long, lost husband. The hero was reunited with his wife. Odysseus told Penelope of his adventure and hardship.




The next day, news has spread of the suitors' death. All of the suitors were noblemen with powerful families from Ithaca and other islands. At the town, Eupeithes, the father of the suitor Antinoüs, aroused the townspeople, urging them to gather together and armed themselves to remove Odysseus from the throne.

Meanwhile, Odysseus went to visit his aged father, Laërtes (Laertes), who was living in a hut and tending his garden. Odysseus falsely told his father that his son was dead, but he relented when he caused unnecessarily grief upon Laërtes. Odysseus revealed his identity to his father. Dolius, a faithful subject to Odysseus also joined the king.

The townspeople met Odysseus and his father at the farmhouse. Laërtes, who was once a notable hero and according to some author, had sailed with Jason, as an Argonaut. Laërtes was powerless to aid his daughter-in-law, when Odysseus' palace was overrun with suitors. Once again, the ancient king Laërtes wielded a weapon of war.

Laërtes hurled his spear and killed Eupeithes. Athena send the others fleeing in panic, by shaking her aegis at the townspeople. Odysseus and Telemachus would have chased and kill them all, had not Zeus sent a thunderbolt to dissuade him.

Disguised as Ithacan elder, named Mentor, Athena reestablished peace between Odysseus and the townspeople.

So ends the Odyssey.

If you wished to read more about Odysseus' life, after his return to Ithaca, then I would suggest that you read Odysseus in Heroes II.

 
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Odysseus, Penelope, Telemachus, Athena, Zeus.









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