The Odyssey


The Odyssey

Odysseus’ 10-year struggle to return home

The year is 1190 BC and the Trojan War has finally ended…
A 10-year war that started after Paris of Troy took the beautiful Helen from her husband King Menelaus of Sparta ends in the conquest of Troy by the Greeks through the ruse of the Wooden Horse.

Odysseus, who devised the ingenious plan and also led the soldiers hidden in the hollow horse, now starts his long journey back to Ithaca with 12 ships and his men.

Little does he know that it will take him another 10 years to reach home…


Main Characters

Hero of the Trojan War, returning with his men to his home on the island of Ithaca.

King of the Greek gods, who discusses Odysseus’ fate with Athena on Mount Olympus.

Goddess of wisdom, courage and inspiration and Odysseus’ protectress.

God of the sea. Absent from the discussion about Odysseus.

Messenger god and Odysseus’ great-grandfather.

Odysseus’ faithful wife, who has a hard time keeping off more than 100 ‘suitors’ during Odysseus’ 20 year absence.

Odysseus’ only son, born just before he was called to fight in Troy.  When he is almost 20, Athena urges and assists him to go to the mainland to search for news of his father.

Conquered by the Greeks after a 10-year war. The starting point for Odysseus’ long journey home.                  

Driven off course by storms, they end up in the land of the Lotus-Eaters, who give some of their fruit to two of his men – causing them to completely forget their mission.

Cyclops Polyphemus:
The Cyclops Polyphemus captures them but blinding him, they escape.  Polyphemus – son of Poseidontells his father, who puts a curse on Odysseus – to wander for 10 years and lose all his crew.

Aeolus,  the master of the winds, gives Odysseus a bag with all the winds. The sailors open the bag, thinking it contains gold. All of the winds fly out and a storm drives them back the way they have  come.  Aeolus refuses to help them again. All of Odysseus’s ships except his own enter the cannibal Laestrygonians’ harbour and are immediately destroyed.

Circe :
The witch-goddess Circe turns half of his men into swine. Hermes gives Odysseus a drug making him immune to her magic. Circe offers to change his men back into humans but only in exchange for  Odysseus’ love.  They remain on her island for another year before sailing to a harbour on the edge of the world. Here, Odysseus performs a sacrifice to the dead, summoning the spirit of the prophet  Tiresias to advise him how to  appease the gods.

In order to pass by the land of the Sirens, with their mesmerizing singing, all the men plug their ears apart from Odysseus who is tied to the mast, as he wishes to hear their song.

Scylla and Charybdis:
Passing between the six-headed monster Scylla and the whirlpool Charybdis, Scylla claims 6 of Odysseus’ men before they land on Thrinacia. His men kill the sacred cattle of the sun god Helios, who makes Zeus punish the men and so they are shipwrecked and all of the men drown except for Odysseus.

Washed ashore on the island of Calypso, Odysseus is forced to remain there for 7 years by Calypso, who wants him as her lover. Athena pleads with Zeus, who sends Hermes to order his release. Odysseus builds a  raft and is given clothing, food and drink. Poseidon is angry and wrecks the raft.

Odysseus swims ashore on Scheria (modern-day Corfu), the island of the Phaeacians. Exhausted, he sleeps all night and is woken in the morning by Princess Nausicaa. She takes him to the palace of  her parents,  Alcinous and Arete, who provide a warm welcome for the first time after 10 years of hardship. They offer Odysseus superb hospitality without asking for his name, but he eventually  reveals his true identity and recounts the story of his return from Troy. The Phaeacians, who are skilled mariners, agree to help him get home and while he is fast asleep they deliver him to a hidden harbour on Ithaca.

Mouse Island/ Pontikonnissi:
A small islet in Kanoni, Corfu’s trademark. The legend says that this was a ship given to Odysseus as a gift by the Phaiakes for his return to Ithaca and the angry Poseidon touched it with his trident and transformed it into a rock.

Based on Homer’s Odyssey.  The Odyssey is Homer’s second epic poem, the first being the Iliad. The two poems are the oldest works in existence in Western literature and Homer is considered to be the greatest ancient Greek epic poet. He is estimated to have lived in the 7th or 8th century BC.