A brief overview of "The Odyssey" by Homer.
Book 9: The Cyclops
New Major Characters
Polyphemus: Cyclops who curses Odysseus’ return journey after being blinded by him.
Odysseus begins his tale with the sacking of the Cicones of Ismarus where he and his crew made their first blunder. Escaping from Ismarus he and his crew then sail for many days, landing on the isle of the Lotus-Eaters and continuing on in the mist and fog before beaching on an uninhabited island, full of beauty and goats. The next day, as his men are feasting, smoke rising from a nearby island catches their eyes and they decide to send a ship over to see whether these men be savages or god-fearing men. Once on the island the Odysseus and his crew face their second blunder, whether to steal some cheese and goats and make back to the boat or to stay and see who is the master of these lands. Unfortunately Odysseus decides on the latter out of sheer curiosity and he and his men become prisoners to the giant Cyclops Polyphemus.
Directly after methodically milking his goats Polyphemus plucks two men from the Odysseus’ crew and eats them for dinner. The next morning he repeats the process and slaughters two more for breakfast, leaving the rest trapped inside his cave for the rest of the day. During this time Odysseus carves a spear of green olive wood and hardens it in the fires in preparation for the evening. The Cyclops again enjoys a dinner of two men and afterwards Odysseus subdues him into a drunken stupor and tricks the giant into thinking his name is “Nobody”. That night Odysseus and four other men heated the spear in the coals of the fire and plunged it deeply into the Cyclops’ eye, blinding him.
The following morning Odysseus and the remainder of his crew escaped from the Cyclops’ lair beneath his rams and make way for their ship. As they are setting sail, Odysseus makes yet another blunder, he brags his escape to the ugly beast and tells him his name to remember it for all time. Polyphemus, however, being the son of Poseidon curses Odysseus and his return voyage.
Book 10: Circe
New Major Characters
Circe: Witch who entraps Odysseus’ crew and later sends them on their journey to Hades.
Eurylochus: Crewmember who is highly skeptical and questions Odysseus’ judgment.
Teiresias: A blind soothsayer whom Odysseus must find in Hades.
The floating isle of Aeolia proved advantageous for Odysseus and his crew, for it was there that Aeolus gave them the gift of the winds and sent them on their way. Out of jealousy and sheer stupidity, Odysseus’ crew unleashed the bag of winds given to them when in sight of their beloved home and sent their ship all the way back to Aeolia. Rowing from there for seven days they caught sight of land and upon seeing smoke, sent a party to scout out the inhabitants. This was the home of the Laestrygonians, however, and upon seeing the three men the lord of that land promptly killed one for his dinner. The Laestrygonians pelted the ships with enormous stones and Odysseus’ black ship was the only to escape of the three.
By the guidance of some god his lone black ship beached on the shore of an enchanted island. Here again they spotted smoke rising in the distance, but this time the crew is weary of what or who may live on the isle. Lead by a doubtful Eurylochus, twenty-two men headed to the stone palace in the center of the isle and only Eurylochus returned, warning Odysseus that a witch had turned the rest to pigs. Infuriated, Odysseus makes his way to Circe’s lair and on the way is confronted by Hermes who gives him an antidote to Circe’s poisons.
After outwitting Circe, Odysseus frees his men and gathers the rest of his crew so that they may enjoy a feast in the goddess’ halls. They stay in that enchanted fortress for the entirety of a year before leaving again, this time through Hades where Odysseus must meet with the great Teiresias.
*Notes based off reading “The Odyssey” by Homer