Вы находитесь на странице: 1из 11

Iphigenia

In Greek mythology, Iphigenia appears in legends about the Trojan War*. She was killed by her
father, Agamemnon, leader of the Greek forces, in exchange for favorable wind from the gods.
Euripides* and Aeschylus also include the story of Iphigenia in their dramas.
In the myth, Greek ships on their way to attack Troy* were stuck in the port of Aulis because of
unfavorable winds. There are a number of different explanations for the difficulty. Most suggest
that Agamemnon was being punished for somehow offending the goddess Artemis*.
Agamemnon was told that the gods would send winds for his ships if he would sacrifice
Iphigenia to Artemis. Knowing that his wife, Clytemnestra, would never agree to the sacrifice,
Agamemnon dispatched a message asking her to send Iphigenia to him so she could be married
to the Greek hero Achilles*.
At this point in the myth, the story varies. According to some versions, Agamemnon actually did
sacrifice Iphigenia. Clytemnestra never forgave him and arranged to kill him when he returned
from the war. In other versions, Artemis spared Iphigenia by replacing her on the
sacrificial altar with a female deer. Artemis then sent Iphigenia to the land of Tauris, where the
girl acted as priestess of Artemis's temple there. A later myth says that Iphigenia's
brother Orestestraveled to Tauris to search for a statue of Artemis. He was captured and about to
be sacrificed, when Iphigenia recognized him. They both escaped with the help of the goddess
Athena* and the god Poseidon*.
Iphigenia is best known as the daughter Agamemnon, leader of the Greek forces at Troy, had to
sacrifice in order to appease Artemis. Agamemnon, or perhaps one of the troops in the Greek
force ofMenelaus (the brother of Agamemnon) offended Artemis, the virgin goddess of the hunt
either by killing one of her sacred animals and/or by boasting immoderately that his hunting skill
exceeded even that of Artemis. Artemis sent a contrary wind, which held the Greek fleet in the
bay of Aulis, where it had assembled before sailing to Troy. The prophet Calchas divined that the
daughter of Agamemnon would have to be sacrificed to atone for the offence. Agamemnon then
summoned Iphigenia from home under the ruse that she was to be married to Achilles. When the
sacrifice was about to be made, however, Iphigenia is miraculously transported to Taurus, a city
on the Black Sea, and an animal sent in her place.
It is interesting, and perhaps significant, that the story of Iphigenia's sacrifice is not mentioned in
the Iliad or the Odyssey, despite there being ample opportunity and reason to do so. The earliest

source for the story is in the report we have of the lost Homeric Cypria (which is usually thought
to date one to two centuries after the Homeric epics). In the next source, Aeschylus' play The
Libation Bearers(c. 460 BCE), Clytemnestra, the wife of Agamemnon, mentioned the killing of
Iphigenia as part of her justification for killing Agamemnon upon his return to Mycene after the
Trojan War. The two plays of Euripides, Iphigenia at Aulis, and Iphigenia at Tauris, are centered
on the story of Iphigenia. The story also gets minor mention in Hesiod's Catalogue of
Women and Eoiae 71, which reports that she was changed into the goddess Hecate instead of
being sacrificed.
The complexity of Iphigenia's story is present in many of the heroines of Greek mythology.
Many of them appear either to have been goddesses in earlier times--which powers they have
lost in the historical period--or are so similar to known goddesses that they appear to be hardly
more than a different name for the same divinity. Iphigenia is so closely associated with Artemis,
that her name is frequently seen as a mere epithet for Artemis (H.J. Rose p. 119.), which justifies
the suspicion that Iphigenia might have originally been another competing virgin goddess of the
hunt, whose character and functions were subsumed by Artemis.
The Iliad and Odyssey: Historical Background
Who, What, Where:
These epic stories are about the Mycenaean or Bronze Age, ancient Greeks, who flourished from
about 1600-1100 BC. This is roughly about the time Moses led the Israelites from Egypt
through the time David ruled a united Jewish nation; by most accounts, Moses led the Jews out
of Egypt and Troy fell somewhere around 1300-1200 BCE. (See our timeline)
These "Greeks" are relative late-comers to the area we now call "Greece" and likely originated to
the East of Black Sea, around the area now called the Caucasus (between the Black and Caspian
seas, where Russia, Turkey and N. Iran meet). The story of Prometheus -- shackled to mount
Caucus -- shows strong connections between their original culture and that of the Sumerians etc.
These people also probably invaded India, to the East/South at roughly the same time (discuss
Pramantha/Prometheus mythology). So these Mycenaean people were both influenced by and
influenced other great civilizations even before there was written history (or, for that matter,
writing). SEE MAPS BELOW
Before the Mycenaeans arrived in the region, earlier "Greek" cultures worshipped ancient
fertility goddesses probably related to Ishtar, Aphrodite, even Athena and Hera, and appear to
have lived a rather peaceable, agricultural lifestyle (we assume this because archeological digs
show these pre-Mycenaean people lived without military weapons or fortifications...until they
were invaded by the Mycanaeans).
In contrast to "the locals", the Greek legends we read celebrate war; this is the literature
of military conquerors, so the Mycenaean people had as much in common with the later Vikings
as with the later philosophical, "civilized" Greeks: this is a culture of raiders, of looters and
pillagers. From this perspective, The Iliad is a work of military propaganda that justifies

Mycenaen control of the most valuable sea passage of age (the Bosporus), and The
Odyssey justifies colonizing Italy and Sicily to the West.
So, like the Hebrew scriptures -- or our own "Westerns" (cowboys/us vs. Indians/them) -- these
Greek legends justify the invasion and domination of earlier "native" inhabitants.
These Ancient (and even Classical) Greeks are best viewed as a culture rather than as a unified
people or "nation". When we speak of "the Ancient Greeks" it's the same way we view Western
Culture as referring to Europe, Britain, the USA, Canada, Australia. Achilles is a king in his
own right, as is Odysseus, and Achilles goes to great lengths to point out that Agamemnon
is not his king; Agamemnon is simply the commander of a federation of independent city states.
Troy is believed to have fallen around 1184 BC and The Iliad and Odyssey were not written
down until c.800-700 BC, so although they are based on vaguely real historical events and actual
historical characters, they are events that transpired hundreds of years before the author even
lived; they are history that has morphed into mythology. We still say they were written by the
blind poet Homer, but thats as much myth as the stories themselves; theres really no reason to
believe that a man named Homer ever wrote any of these stories, or that he was blind. We can
assume that this is a compilation of various oral tales and that much of the narration describes
what Greek life and warfare was like in 750 BCE, not 1184 BCE.
Internecene Iliad, Othering Odyssey:
The Iliad: The Iliad tells the final chapter in the story of two major Bronze Age Greek
alliances battling each other. It ends when the Achaeans (people mainly from what we now call
Greece) sack Troy (located in modern day Turkey). It's a long, meandering epic, but
it primarily revolves around the "godlike Achilles'" struggle to confront his hubris and become
humanized.
Both in scope and type, consider the Trojan war as similar to that between different European
factions in WWI and WWII, or between the North and South in the American Civil War: this was
a seminal, history-shaping event, and an intra-cultural war, a war fought among people of the
same basic culture: although the two sides are protected by different gods, all the gods belong to
the same basic pantheon or family of what we now call Greek gods.
The Odyssey, in contrast, mainly takes place outside of that common culture and describes
contact with pre-Mycenaean Mediterranean cultures. The story focuses on Odysseus and his
family's struggle to recover from the Trojan war's after effects and, primarily, with Odysseus
struggle to make it back home. So The Iliad describes the clash between two equally brilliant
and beautiful groups of Greeks, and The Odyssey describes contact with the Other,
represented as monsters and witches.
Profound Impact:
Were interested in part in how familiar and "normal" these stories feel, how unexotic they are,
because they are the foundation for how Western culture thinks of storytelling, and how this
storytelling in turn shaped our conception of what it means to be a human being. While the
Jews gave Western culture its religious foundation, the Greeks gave us our culture, the parts of
our lives we don't even notice because it is the very air we breath our sense of heroism, of the

individual, of the individuals relationship to others, or our very means of expressing our
emotions and the way we tell stories. Jewish stories opened our way of conceptualizing God, but
the Greeks gave us our way of thinking about ourselves as human beings. The word for this is
"humanism" or Greek Humanism.
The Iliad (Gr: Ilis) is an epic poem by the ancient Greek poet Homer, which recounts
some of the significant events of the final weeks of the Trojan War and the Greek siege of the
city of Troy (which was also known as Ilion, Ilios or Ilium in ancient times). Written in the mid8th Century BCE,The Iliad is usually considered to be the earliest work in the whole Western
literary tradition, and one of the best known and loved stories of all time. Through its portayal of
the epic subject matter of the Trojan War, the stirring scenes of bloody battle, the wrath
of Achilles and the constant interventions of the gods, it explores themes of glory, wrath,
homecoming and fate, and has provided subjects and stories for many other later Greek, Roman
and Renaissance writings.
Synopsis

Back to Top of Page

The story covered by The Iliad begins nearly ten years into the seige of Troy by the Greek
forces, led by Agamemnon, King of Mycenae. The Greeks are quarrelling about whether or not
to return Chryseis, a Trojan captive of King Agamemnon, to her father, Chryses, a priest of
Apollo. WhenAgamemnon refuses and threatens to ransom the girl to her father, the offended
Apollo plagues them with a pestilence.
The Greeks, at the behest of the warrior-hero Achilles, force Agamemnon to return Chryseis in
order to appease Apollo and end the pestilence. But, when Agamemnon eventually reluctantly
agrees to give her back, he takes in her stead Briseis, Achilless own war-prize concubine.
Feeling dishonoured, Achilles wrathfully withdraws both himself and his Myrmidon warriors
from the Trojan War.
Testing the resolve of the Greeks, Agamemnon feigns a homeward order,
but Odysseusencourages the Greeks to pursue the fight. During a brief truce in the
hostilities, Paris and Menelausmeet in single combat over Helen, while she and old King
Priam of Troy watch from the city walls and, despite the goddess Aphrodites intervention on
behalf of the over-matched Paris, Menelaus is the victor. The goddess Athena, however, who
favours the Greeks, soon provokes a Trojan truce-breaking and battle begins anew.
The Greek hero Diomedes, strengthened by Athena, drives the Trojans before him but, in his
arrogance and blood-lust, strikes and injures Aphrodite. Despite the misgivings of his
wife,Andromache, the Trojan hero, Hector, son of King Priam, challenges the Greek warriorhero Ajax to single combat, and is almost overcome in battle. Throughout all, in the background,
the various gods and goddesses (particularly Hera, Athena, Apollo and Poseidon) continue to
argue among themselves and to manipulate and intervene in the struggle, despite Zeus specific
orders to the contrary.

Achilles steadfastly refuses to give in to pleas for help from Agamemnon, Odysseus, Ajax,
Phoenix and Nestor, spurning the offered honours and riches and even Agamemnons belated
offer to return Briseis to him. Diomedes and Odysseus sneak into the Trojan camp and wreak
havoc. But, withAchilles and his warriors out of battle, the tide appears to begin to turn in favour
of the Trojans.Agamemnon is wounded in the battle and, despite the heroics
of Ajax, Hector successfully breaches the fortified Greek camp, wounding Odysseus and
Diomedes in the process, and threatens to set the Greek ships on fire.
Torn between his allegiances, Achilles orders his friend and lover, Patroclus, to dress in Achilles
own armour and to lead the Myrmidons in repelling the Trojans. Intoxicated by his success,
Patroclus forgets Achilles warning, and pursues the fleeing Trojans to the walls of Troy and
would have taken the city were it not for the actions of Apollo. In the heat of the battle,
though, Hectorfinds the disguised Patroclus and, thinking him to be Achilles, fights and (again
with Apollos help) kills him. Menelaus and the Greeks manage to recover Patrocluss corpse
before Hector can inflict more damage.
Distraught at the death of his companion, Achilles then reconciles with Agamemnon and rejoins
the fray, despite knowing his deadly fate, and drives all the Trojans before him in his fury. As the
ten year war reaches its climax, even the gods join in the battle and the earth shakes with the
clamour of the combat.
Clad in new armour fashioned specially for him by Hephaestus, Achilles takes revenge for his
friend Patroclus by slaying Hector in single combat, but then defiles and desecrates his corpse for
several days. Now, at last, Patroclus funeral can be celebrated in what Achilles sees as a fitting
manner.Hectors father, King Priam, emboldened by his grief and aided by Hermes,
recovers Hectors corpse from Achilles, and The Iliad ends with Hectors funeral during a
twelve day truce granted byAchilles.
Analysis

Back to Top of Page

Although attributed to Homer, "The Iliad" is clearly dependent on an older oral tradition and may
well have been the collective inheritance of many singer-poets over a long period of time (the
historical Fall of Troy is usually dated to around the start of the 12th Century BCE). Homer was
probably one of the first generation of authors who were also literate, as the Greek alphabet was
introduced in the early 8th Century BCE, and the language used in his epic poems is an archaic
version of Ionic Greek, with admixtures from certain other dialects such as Aeolic Greek.
However, it is by no means certain that Homer himself (if in fact such a man ever really existed)
actually wrote down the verses.
The Iliad was part of a group of ancient poems known as the "Epic Cycle", most of which are
now lost to us, which dealt with the history of the Trojan War and the events surrounding it.
Whether or not they were written down, we do know that Homer's poems (along with others in
the Epic Cycle) were recited in later days at festivals and ceremonial occasions by
professional singers called "rhapsodes", who beat out the measure with rhythm staffs.

The Iliad itself does not cover the early events of the Trojan War, which had been launched ten
years before the events described in the poem in order to rescue Helen, the wife of King
Menelausof Sparta, after her abduction by the Trojan prince, Paris. Likewise, the death
of Achilles and the eventual fall of Troy are not covered in the poem, and these matters are the
subjects of other (non-Homeric) "Epic Cycle" poems, which survive only in fragments. The
Odyssey, a separate work also by Homer, narrates Odysseus decade-long journey home to
Ithaca after the end of the Trojan War.
The poem consists of twenty-four scrolls, containing 15,693 lines of dactylic hexameter verse.
The entire poem has a formal rhythm that is consistent throughout (making it easier to
memorize) and yet varied slightly from line to line (preventing it from being monotonous). Many
phrases, sometimes whole passages, are repeated verbatim over and over again throughout The
Iliad, partly to fulfill the demands of the metre and partly as part of the formulaic oral tradition.
In the same way, many of the descriptive phrases that are linked with a certain character (such as
"swift-footed Achilles", "Diomedes of the great war cry", "Hector of the shining helm", and
"Agamemnon the lord of men") match the number of syllables in a hero's name, and are repeated
regularly to the extent that they almost seem to become part of the characters' names themselves.
The immortal gods and goddesses are portrayed as characters in The Iliad, displaying
individuality and will in their actions, but they are also stock religious figures, sometimes
allegorical, sometimes psychological, and their relation to humans is extremely complex. They
are often used as a way of explaining how or why an event took place, but they are also
sometimes used as comic relief from the war, mimicking, parodying and mocking mortals.
Indeed, it is often the gods, not the mortals, who seem casual, petty and small-minded.
The main theme of the poem is that of war and peace, and the whole poem is essentially a
description of war and fighting. There is a sense of horror and futility built into Homer's
chronicle, and yet, posed against the viciousness, there is a sense of heroism and glory that adds
a glamour to the fighting: Homer appears both to abhor war and to glorify it. Frequent similes
tell of the peacetime efforts back home in Greece, and serve as contrasts to the war, reminding us
of the human values that are destroyed by fighting, as well as what is worth fighting for.
The concept of heroism, and the honour that results from it, is also one of the major currents
running through the poem. Achilles in particular represents the heroic code and his struggle
revolves around his belief in an honour system, as opposed to Agamemnon's reliance on royal
privilege. But, as fighter after heroic fighter enters the fray in search of honour and is slain
before our eyes, the question always remains as to whether their struggle, heroic or not, is really
worth the sacrifice.
Menin or menis (anger or wrath) is the word that opens The Iliad, and one of the
major themes of the poem is Achilles coming to terms with his anger and taking responsibility
for his actions and emotions.
THE ODYSSEY SUMMARY
How It All Goes Down

Years after the end of the Trojan War, the Greek hero Odysseus still hasn't come home to Ithaka.
Most people figure he's dead. But we don't: Homer lets us know right away that Odysseus is
being held as a (willing) sex captive on the island of the goddess Kalypso. Oh, and sea god
Poseidon is ticked off at Odysseus, and sees no reason to let him get home.
Back in Ithaka, Odysseus's wife Penelope is getting swarmed by a horde of unwanted suitors.
Odysseus and Penelope's son, Telemachos, now a typically moody teenager, gets a visit from the
goddess Athene (who was always chummy with Odysseus). She tells him to go looking for news
of his missing father, so he heads to Pylos to visit King Nestor. Nestor takes him in, gives him a
dinnerand then tells him to go see King Menelaos in Sparta. Once again, he does as he's told.
In Sparta, Telemachos learns from Menelaos that Odysseus is alive andwell, being held
captive on Kalypso's island. Menelaos also tells Telemachos about how his bro, King
Agamemnon, was murdered when he got home from Troy by his unfaithful wife, Klytaimestra,
and her lover, Aigisthos. It's cool, though: Agamemnon's son Orestes killed the murderers. This
fun story raises the question of whether Odysseus will be killed when he gets home, and, if so,
whether Telemachos will step up to avenge his father's death. Meanwhile, back in Ithaka,
Penelope's suitors plot to ambush and kill Telemachos when he returns home. Oh, the tension!
Up on Mount Olympos, where the gods all hang out, the goddess Athene asks her father, Zeus,
the King of the gods, to have mercy on Odysseus and force Kalpyso to release him. Zeus
says whatevs, and in no time, Odysseus sails off on a makeshift raft. Unfortunately, Poseidon
whips up some storms, and instead of getting home, Odysseus washes ashore in the land of the
Phaiakians. Fortunately, Athene makes the resident princess, Nausikaa, develop a crush on him.
Nausikaa takes him home to meet her parents, the King and Queen of Phaiakia. In return for their
hospitality, Odysseus tells them (and us) everything that's happened to him since the end of the
Trojan War, which is this:
Odysseus left Troy with a ship of his Ithakan men. At their first stop, they plundered the locals'
stuff. Several storm-tossed days later, they landed on the island of the Lotus-eaters. A few guys
ate the lotus flower (i.e. every drug your parents have ever warned you about), forgot their homes
and families, and had to be taken back to the ship by force.
Next, Odysseus and his men came to the land of the giant one-eyed Cyclopes. They stumbled
into a Cyclops cave, and the resident Cyclops (Polyphemos) sealed the entrance to the cave with
a huge boulder and ate a few of the Ithakans. Not cool. Odysseus did some of his patented
trickery and managed to blind the monster; the next morning, he and his men escaped by riding
under the bellies of Polyphemos's flock of sheep. (Here's a picture of his escape.)
But as Odysseus was sailing away with his men, his ego got the better of him. He taunted the
Cyclops, telling him his real name. Turns out, Polyphemos was the son of Poseidon, the god of
the sea. Oops. Guess this is why Poseidon hates our hero so much.
Next, Odysseus and his men came to the island of Aiolos, god of the wind. He helped Odysseus
out by putting all the windsexcept for the westbound breeze they neededinto a nice little
bag. Unfortunately, Odysseus didn't tell his men what's in the bag. On the way home, they

opened it up, thinking it was full of treasure. Big mistake. All the winds jumped out and ran riot,
thus driving them to the island of sorceress Circe, who turned many of the men into pigs.
With the help of the gods, Odysseus got his men turned back into humans and had sex with
Circe. For a year. Finally, one of his men said, "Can we get going already?," and Odysseus said,
"OK." Waitfirst they had to go the Underworld and get advice from the prophet Teiresias. (Just
don't ask Apple Maps for directions.)
At the Underworld, Teiresias prophesied that Odysseus would make it home, but not without
difficulty. Odysseus spoke to several other famous dead people (like his war buddies Achilleus
and Agamemnon). He also met the ghost of his mother, Antikleia, who had died of grief over her
son's prolonged absence. Then, after a quick pit stop back at Circe's island for more
directions (who says men don't ask for directions?), Odysseus and his men sailed on for a series
of adventures:
(1) When they passed by the Sirens, monstrous women with beautiful voices who try to lure
sailors to their deaths, Odysseus made his men plug their ears and tie him to the mast so he could
listen to the song without chasing after it. He became the only man to hear the Sirens' song and
survive.
(2) Next, they met two horrible monsters (curiously, also female) named Skylla and Charybdis.
As predicted by Circe, Skylla (who has six heads) ate six Ithakans; the rest barely escaped
Charybdis (a giant vortex who sucks up the sea and vomits it back out again).
(3) Next, they landed on the island of Helios, the sun god, where his very special cattle were
kept. Despite having been warned by Teiresias and Circe not to eat the cattle, Odysseus's men
couldn't control their hunger. Bad call. Not long afterward, everyone died in a stormexcept for
Odysseus.
(4) But he was in for his own bad luck: winding up on Kalypso's island to be held prisoner for
seven yearsbefore getting free to shipwreck with the Phaiakians, where he's telling this story.
And that's it for Odysseus's story to the Phaiakians. They're so moved by his suffering that they
load him up with treasure and ferry him back to Ithaka. (Unfortunately, in return for their trouble,
the god Poseidon turns them and their ship into stone.) But the fun isn't over yethe still has all
those pesky suitors to deal with.
Once Odysseus gets home, Athene disguises him as a beggar so he can scope out the situation.
Odysseus then recruits the assistance of the swineherd, Eumaios, who puts him up for the night
while Athene flies to Sparta to retrieve Telemachos. When Telemachos gets back, Odysseus
reveals himself to his son and then heads to the palace, still disguised as a beggar. Without
revealing his true identity, he tries to convince Penelope that Odysseus is on his way home and
susses out which of his servants are still loyal to the household and which have joined the suitors.
By now, Penelope decides to take action: she'll marry the winner of a content of physical
prowess. The challenge? String Odysseus's old bow and shoot it through the heads of twelve
axes. You can guess the rest: everyone tries and fails, until the beggar (Odysseus in disguise)

steps up. He succeeds, drops the disguise, and, with the help of Telemachos, several loyal
servants, and Athene's protection, kills all the suitors in a massive and bloody slaughter.
Odysseus reunites with his wife, and everything is back to normalexcept that he's just killed all
the young noblemen of Ithaka and their parents are furious.
The next morning, Odysseus leaves the palace, reunites with his father Laertes, and lays low
while the angry moms and dads start looking for vengeance. Just when it looks like more
violence is on the way, Athene appears and asks why we can't all get along. This sounds like a
great idea to everyone, and peace is restored in Ithaka.

Up on Mount Olympos, where the gods all hang out, the goddess Athene asks her father, Zeus,
the King of the gods, to have mercy on Odysseus and force Kalpyso to release him. Zeus
says whatevs, and in no time, Odysseus sails off on a makeshift raft. Unfortunately, Poseidon
whips up some storms, and instead of getting home, Odysseus washes ashore in the land of the
Phaiakians. Fortunately, Athene makes the resident princess, Nausikaa, develop a crush on him.
Nausikaa takes him home to meet her parents, the King and Queen of Phaiakia. In return for their
hospitality, Odysseus tells them (and us) everything that's happened to him since the end of the
Trojan War, which is this:
Odysseus left Troy with a ship of his Ithakan men. At their first stop, they plundered the locals'
stuff. Several storm-tossed days later, they landed on the island of the Lotus-eaters. A few guys
ate the lotus flower (i.e. every drug your parents have ever warned you about), forgot their homes
and families, and had to be taken back to the ship by force.
Next, Odysseus and his men came to the land of the giant one-eyed Cyclopes. They stumbled
into a Cyclops cave, and the resident Cyclops (Polyphemos) sealed the entrance to the cave with
a huge boulder and ate a few of the Ithakans. Not cool. Odysseus did some of his patented
trickery and managed to blind the monster; the next morning, he and his men escaped by riding
under the bellies of Polyphemos's flock of sheep. (Here's a picture of his escape.)
But as Odysseus was sailing away with his men, his ego got the better of him. He taunted the
Cyclops, telling him his real name. Turns out, Polyphemos was the son of Poseidon, the god of
the sea. Oops. Guess this is why Poseidon hates our hero so much.
Next, Odysseus and his men came to the island of Aiolos, god of the wind. He helped Odysseus
out by putting all the windsexcept for the westbound breeze they neededinto a nice little
bag. Unfortunately, Odysseus didn't tell his men what's in the bag. On the way home, they
opened it up, thinking it was full of treasure. Big mistake. All the winds jumped out and ran riot,
thus driving them to the island of sorceress Circe, who turned many of the men into pigs.
With the help of the gods, Odysseus got his men turned back into humans and had sex with
Circe. For a year. Finally, one of his men said, "Can we get going already?," and Odysseus said,
"OK." Waitfirst they had to go the Underworld and get advice from the prophet Teiresias. (Just
don't ask Apple Maps for directions.)

At the Underworld, Teiresias prophesied that Odysseus would make it home, but not without
difficulty. Odysseus spoke to several other famous dead people (like his war buddies Achilleus
and Agamemnon). He also met the ghost of his mother, Antikleia, who had died of grief over her
son's prolonged absence. Then, after a quick pit stop back at Circe's island for more
directions (who says men don't ask for directions?), Odysseus and his men sailed on for a series
of adventures:
(1) When they passed by the Sirens, monstrous women with beautiful voices who try to lure
sailors to their deaths, Odysseus made his men plug their ears and tie him to the mast so he could
listen to the song without chasing after it. He became the only man to hear the Sirens' song and
survive.
(2) Next, they met two horrible monsters (curiously, also female) named Skylla and Charybdis.
As predicted by Circe, Skylla (who has six heads) ate six Ithakans; the rest barely escaped
Charybdis (a giant vortex who sucks up the sea and vomits it back out again).
(3) Next, they landed on the island of Helios, the sun god, where his very special cattle were
kept. Despite having been warned by Teiresias and Circe not to eat the cattle, Odysseus's men
couldn't control their hunger. Bad call. Not long afterward, everyone died in a stormexcept for
Odysseus.
(4) But he was in for his own bad luck: winding up on Kalypso's island to be held prisoner for
seven yearsbefore getting free to shipwreck with the Phaiakians, where he's telling this story.
And that's it for Odysseus's story to the Phaiakians. They're so moved by his suffering that they
load him up with treasure and ferry him back to Ithaka. (Unfortunately, in return for their trouble,
the god Poseidon turns them and their ship into stone.) But the fun isn't over yethe still has all
those pesky suitors to deal with.
Once Odysseus gets home, Athene disguises him as a beggar so he can scope out the situation.
Odysseus then recruits the assistance of the swineherd, Eumaios, who puts him up for the night
while Athene flies to Sparta to retrieve Telemachos. When Telemachos gets back, Odysseus
reveals himself to his son and then heads to the palace, still disguised as a beggar. Without
revealing his true identity, he tries to convince Penelope that Odysseus is on his way home and
susses out which of his servants are still loyal to the household and which have joined the suitors.
By now, Penelope decides to take action: she'll marry the winner of a content of physical
prowess. The challenge? String Odysseus's old bow and shoot it through the heads of twelve
axes. You can guess the rest: everyone tries and fails, until the beggar (Odysseus in disguise)
steps up. He succeeds, drops the disguise, and, with the help of Telemachos, several loyal
servants, and Athene's protection, kills all the suitors in a massive and bloody slaughter.
Odysseus reunites with his wife, and everything is back to normalexcept that he's just killed all
the young noblemen of Ithaka and their parents are furious.
The next morning, Odysseus leaves the palace, reunites with his father Laertes, and lays low
while the angry moms and dads start looking for vengeance. Just when it looks like more

violence is on the way, Athene appears and asks why we can't all get along. This sounds like a
great idea to everyone, and peace is restored in Ithaka.