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The Oddessey Essay, Research Paper


The Odyssey tells of the adventures of Odysseus. After fighting ten years in the Trojan War, the story tells it took Odysseus ten more years to reach home, in Ithaca, and his wife, Penelope.

The Odyssey begins describing the current circumstances. The Trojan War is over, and all of the survivors are home except one: Odysseus. He is at the Nymph Calypso’s island, detained for she wishes him to marry her. All of the gods felt sorry for him, except Poseidon. Poseidon is in Eithiopia, however, and the rest of the gods hold a meeting where Athena brings up poor Odysseus.The gods come to the conclusion to rescue Odysseus from Calypso, even though Poseidon holds a grudge and wishes to keep him there. The gods send a messenger, Hermes, to tell Calypso to release Odysseus. Zeus instructs Hermes to tell Calypso that she is to let Odysseus go. Odysseus shall not have the help of gods or any men. He must build his own boat, and then after twenty days at sea, he shall reach the land of the Phaeacians. The Phaeacians will help him on his final journey to his homeland.

Meanwhile, Athena goes to Odysseus’s home in Ithaca to visit Odysseus’s son, Telemachus. Many suitors were there, trying to win the hand in marriage of Penelope, Telemachus’s mother and Odysseus’s wife. These many suitors had eaten Telemachus out of house and home. Athena arrives in the form of Mentor, a Taphian chief. Very generously, Telemachus invites Athena in. After they introduce themselves and Telemachus explains how the suitors have been living off of him, Athena puts Telemachus in his place.

Athena explains to Telemachus that he needs to rid his house of the suitors, tell Penelope to return to her father’s house if she wishes to be wed, and to take his best ship and twenty of his best men on a journey. She tells him to go to Pylos and talk to Nestor, then to Sparta to see Menelaus. If Telemachus learns that his father is alive, then he should keep looking. If he learns that Odysseus is dead, then Telemachus is to send his mother, Penelope, home to her father and build Odysseus a mound with the proper funeral rites.

The next day, Telemachus leaves with Athena, disguised as Mentor. They see Nestor, but he is unable to give them any help. Athena, still disguised as Mentor, leaves and Peisitratus, son of Nestor, takes her place. The two men then go to see Menelaus. Menelaus tells them that Calypso is holding Odysseus captive. The suitors, at Telemachus’s house in Ithaca, learn that Telemachus has left and plan to ambush him on his way home.

Hermes reaches Ogygia, the home of Calypso. She welcomes him in and lets him tell his story. Hermes explains to Calypso that she is to let Odysseus go. With some resistance she agrees. Odysseus will have no help. Hermes goes back home and Calypso sends Odysseus on his way with clothes, food, wine, and a warm breeze.

Odysseus’s journey went well until Poseidon, coming home, sees him. Poseidon makes a storm. Odysseus’s ship is destroyed and Odysseus is not fairing the storm very well. Athena decides to intervene. She calms the winds, except the one from the North, to send Odysseus along his way.

For three days Odysseus is tossed at sea. He swims onto a rocky coast and is scraped by the rocks. He prays to the river he is by and the river changes its current to help Odysseus ashore. Odysseus crawled under some bushes to sleep.

While Odysseus is sleeping, Athena sets off to see the Phaecians. She goes to Nausicaa, daughter of King Alcinous, in her dreams and tells her to go wash clothes at the river. Her father agrees to let her go. Nausicaa leaves with the clothes and some servants.

The women arrive at the stream and wash the clothes. They bathe and wait for the clothes to dry. They play some games. Odysseus awakes and wonders who these women are.

Odysseus seeks and receives the mercy of Nausicaa. She agrees to take him home, but he must walk and not go all of the way into the city with her. He arrives at the Palace of Alcinous where he seeks shelter. King Alcinous welcomes Odysseus in, following Greek custom.

King Alcinous declares a festival the next day. After the feasts and offerrings, an athletic contest takes place. Odysseus dominates the contests and afterward, a song of the Trojan War brings Odysseus to tears and he begins to tell the tale of his journey after the Trojan War:

After the War, Odysseus and his crew went to Ismarus where they sacked and looted the Cicones. Then, they made their way to the land of the Cyclopes. They went into a cave for shelter and got trapped by Polyphemus, son of Poseidon. Odysseus blinded Polyphemus in part of his escape. Polyphemus put a curse on Odysseus: Odysseus shall not return home, but if he does, let him be late, alone, and let there be trouble in his home. After their escape from the Cyclopes, they went to Aeolia. Aeolus gave Odysseus a leather bag of wind and sent them along. When they were almost to Ithaca, they could see it, Odysseus fell asleep and his crew opened the bag. They were blown right back to Aeolia. Aeolus turned them away.

At Telepylus, several crew members were eaten by the Laestrygonian people. The Laestrygonians destroyed all of the ships except the one Odysseus was on.

At Aeaea, their next stop, they met Circe. Odysseus was her bed partner. They stayed for a year until the crew grew homesick. Circe sent them on their way with supplies and some advice.

They crossed over the river Hades into Hell, seeking the advice of the blind prophet, Teiresias. They were warned of the Sun God’s Isle. Odysseus is to set out and teach a people of the oar. Then plant the oar like a tree and make an offerring to Poseidon. Then Odysseus will be free of Poseidon’s curse.

Odysseus and his crew return to Aeaea where Circe warns Odysseus of the sirens. She also gives special instructions about Scylla and Charybdis.

They pass the sirens, following Circe’s instructions. Odysseus is the only one who hears them because his ears are not plugged, and he pleads with his crew to let them stay. Following his orders, they bind him tighter and row by (If you stay at the Siren’s island, you will die because their music makes you completely forget to eat. You die of starvation). While they were rowing through the passage where Scylla and Charybdis lived, Charybdis, a whirlpool, distracted Odysseus and his men. Scylla snatched and ate six of Odysseus’s best men while he was not watching.

They reached the Sun God’s Isle. Despite Odysseus’s warnings, his crew demanded to rest. They stopped and eventually his men wanted to eat some of Hyperion’s cattle. Hyperion, the Sun God, was furious. He smashed the ship and made a storm. Odysseus drifted at sea for nine days before being rescued by Calypso.

Finished with his story, Odysseus starts off for Ithaca. He goes to see Eumaeus, a swineherd. Odysseus discovers that Eumaeus is still faithful to him. In the meantime, Athena hurries Telemachus home and keeps him from being attacked by the suitors. Following Athena’s advice, he heads for the hut of Eumaeus.

Odysseus and Telemachus unite. They plan their strategy. They will lock the weapons up, then lock the suitors in the palace. Telemachus is not to tell anyone about Odysseus’s return.

Telemachus and the suitors return to the palace. Odysseus follows after. When Odysseus returns home, no one recognizes him except Argus, his dog. He is so old that all he does is wag his tail, and then he dies. When Eurycleia, a servant, is washing Odysseus’s feet, she recognizes a scar on his leg. Odysseus tells her to keep quiet about his return.

The suitors arrange a fight between Odysseus and Irus, a beggar. Odysseus wins.

Penelope prepares a contest for the suitors to see which one she will marry. The next day Odysseus is the only one able to string the bow and to accomplish the feat of shooting an arrow through twelve ax heads in a row. The suitors are appalled. That evening after Penelope has retired, Telemachus, Odysseus, and Eurycleia kill all of the suitors except two, pardoned by Odysseus and Telemachus. Then, there were twelve maids who violated Odysseus while he was gone. He hangs them only after making them clean up the mess in the Hall. Eurycleia told Penelope Odyssuess’s identity. Penelope doesn’t believe her. Only after Odysseus tells the secret about their bed (the bed that was made by Odysseus was made out of an olive tree) does she believe him. They have a party and then restore peace in Ithaca. Odysseus continues his trials just as the dead prophet had told him to. Odysseus sacrifices 20 prime bulls and 20 prime heifers to appease Poseidon. The curse is lifted and Athena makes peace between Odysseus and the suitors’ fathers.

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