#AtoZChallenge (2017): O is for Odysseus

*Belated post for the A to Z. I was out of town for an emergency, and now I’m catching up. Hello, world!

Day Fifteen of the A-to-Z Challenge in April 2017. Let’s do this.

This year there’s no linky list or form to fill out to sign up. It might be too late to join at this point (unless you were double posting), but you can always cheer/comment on participants (and find awesome bloggers) at the A-to-Z’s official blog.

Now I should warn, that I didn’t stick to the common sense rule of writing short, pithy posts. Mine are long and bloated, but I’m having fun with it. And if you wanna skim, that’s absolutely cool with me!

Leave a comment down below with your blog so I can visit I’m thrilled to be making new friends. 🙂

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As part of my Greek mythic figures, places, and things theme, my “O” post stars the hero, Odysseus.

Image result for odysseus

The star of Homer’s surviving epic, the Odyssey, a sequel to the Iliad.

Described by Homer as being “god-like”, Odysseus was compared to Zeus – but he was a mortal king, a mythic hero like Hercules.

Odysseus before the crazy that was the Trojan War:

Born to Laertes and Anticlea, Odysseus surpassed his parents, though Laertes was one of Jason’s Argonauts and a hunter in the Calydonian Boar Hunt, and Anticlea was the granddaughter of Hermes. Anticlea’s father was a skilled thief  and the son of Hermes, a god-patron of thieves. So there’s some god blood in this hero, surprise! (Do you smell that sarcasm oozing from your screen?)

Odysseus was known for his brains – his sharp mind getting him out of situations as it would be in his greatest adventures.

Pre-Trojan War, Odysseus was one of the suitors of the very, inhumanly beautiful Helen. But there were many suitors, and only one of Helen. To his frustration, Helen’s stepfather (maybe really father? Remember Leda’s two eggs), King Tyndareus calls on Odysseus. Guess the suitors are taking up space in his home, so he wants them out and Helen to get married to someone. Anyone.

Cleverly, Odysseus advises Tyndareus to have the suitors draw straws and trades his advice for the hand of Tyndareus’s niece, Penelope. As we know, Menelaus wins the straw draw and Helen’s hand.

Then Eris tosses in the stolen golden apple from the Garden of Hesperides, and Aphrodite wins thanks to Paris, and Paris gets the goddess of sexual beauty’s approval to steal Helen from Menelaus, which begins the Trojan War.

Phew. Lots of crazy drama going on…

The War Preparations:

Back to Odysseus. Called on by Menelaus, along with all the Greek kings, Odysseus realizes he’ll have to go to war against Troy and the Trojan Prince Paris for…a woman. Yeesh. Odysseus probably thought it a stupid reason to go, but more importantly he had an oracle tell him that if he went to war, he’d be gone from home for many years. Not wanting this, Odysseus fakes his madness and hopes to be exempted from war.

Once Menelaus (with his brother, Agamemnon’s help – a guy who was pretty crazy himself) proves that he’s feigning his insanity, Odysseus is forced to go to war.

One of the tasks Odysseus had was to lure the great hero, Achilles to war. It is prophesied to Odysseus and the other Greek warriors that with Achilles’s aid, the war would be won.

So Odysseus went off to recruit Achilles. He lured out Achilles – the young warrior hero disguised as a woman to avoid recruitment – by setting out weapons. Only Achilles was interested in the weapons.

Image result for girls and boys choosing toys gif
Sadly this was not the thinking in Achilles’s world. Boys played with weapons, girls didn’t.

Once in Troy, Odysseus acted as a war advisor.

And the War Ended:

It was ten years in since the Greeks landed on Troy for the war, when Odysseus laid out the plan for the hollow horse. Faking a retreat, the Trojan Horse was a gift from the departing Greeks to Trojan warriors.

Image result for gift horse in the mouth gif
In this case, the Trojans should have looked the gift horse in the mouth. Search its cavities! Pooh-pooh decorum.

Now most of us knows what happens next: the idiot Trojans take in the large, wooden horse as the white flag of the Greeks. Come nightfall, while the unsuspecting Trojans were resting, the Greek warriors hiding inside the hollow horse reveal themselves. Opening the gates to Troy, they allowed the rest of the Greek army in to route the Trojans; the Greeks ultimately win the long, arduous war.

On the way home, Odysseus’s journey home is detailed in the Odyssey. He makes many stops, and those he meets are always friendly.

Polyphemus:

Image result for polyphemus

On the island of the Polyphemus, the Cyclops, Odysseus watches as crew members are slaughtered and eaten by the one-eyed fiend. To be fair, the crew members were slaughtering Polyphemus’s sheep. It was a weird way to retaliate, but I guess the Cyclops thought it was justified.

This went on until Odysseus pulled out some powerful wine he had,  which he shared with Polyphemus. Conked out, the Cyclops was unaware and unable to protect his one eye from being blinded by Odysseus and his men.

Blinded then, Polyphemus had no way of knowing that when he let his sheep out to graze, that Odysseus and his remaining men tied themselves to the belly of this (supposedly large) sheep. Freed, they set sail and as they moved away from Polyphemus’s island, Odysseus taunts the Cyclops from his ship.

Angered, Polyphemus calls on Poseidon to make Odysseus’s trip home a difficult (if not impossible) one.

Close, but Not Home Yet (a bag of winds):

Odysseus makes a pit stop on the island of the god of winds, Aeolus. Gifting the hero with a bag of magic winds, Aeolus sees Odysseus off.

Just as their ships neared the shores of Ithaca. Odysseus’s men find the magic bag and believe it to be holding gold. Whatever the reason for their curiosity, the bag is opened and the ship is thrown off by the winds. Landing far, far away from Ithaca, Odysseus realizes he’s back to square one.

Image result for back to square one gif
Odysseus after his men screw him out of a homecoming party.

Circe’s “enchanting” company:

Image result for circe and odysseus

Circe envisioned the arrival of Odysseus and her men. She prepared an enchantment for them. Turning the men into pigs, Odysseus was protected from such a fate by Hermes – the god gifted Odysseus a magical herb nullifying Circe’s charms.

Circe fell for Odysseus and she offered a trade – his men changed back to their human forms in exchange for Odysseus’s company in her bedroom. Odysseus signs off, and he becomes Circe’s lover for a year. Circe helps when Odysseus decides it’s time to set off homeward once again (*ahem*nothankstohisidiotmen*ahem*).

This goes on and on, Odysseus visiting a blind prophet, meeting the Sirens, passing between Scylla and Charybdis unharmed, messing with sun god Helios’s cattle – this led to Odysseus losing ALL of his men. Now alone, and without a ship, Odysseus is taken in by the witch-goddess Calypso on her island, Ogygia. She held him captive for seven years, trying to force him to love her as much as she had grown to love him. Eventually, Odysseus is freed of Calypso’s pushy affection. On a tiny raft, Odysseus sets off (yet again) and finds himself in another storm (again) and crashes on a strange island (again). The strange island is full of friendly folk who, once learning of his ordeals, set up Odysseus with a ship.

Home Sweet Ithaca:

Odysseus disguises himself as a beggar and lines up as one of his wife, Penelope’s eager suitors. They are tasked to use Odysseus’s bow to shoot an arrow through twelve ax handles. Only Odysseus was able to do this in the past, and none but he could do it again.

Then Odysseus kills all the suitors.

Image result for fighting for a girl gif
Only with more testosterone…and one man picking off the others with his arrows.

Penelope – not believing this to be her husband yet – tests him by asking him to lift the bed (or in some versions, asking servants to do it). Odysseus refuses (or stops) the bed from being lifted, explaining he crafted it himself from living oak tree. Finally, they’re able to have a real reunion.

Odysseus’s demise:

Years later, Circe and Odysseus’s son, Telegonus, lands on Ithaca to meet his father. But Odysseus, not knowing who Telegonus is, fights the stranger on the shores of Ithaca. Telegonus slays his father unknowingly, but once he realizes what he’s done, he makes amends by meeting with his half-brother, Telemachus (the son of Odysseus and Penelope).

One (Jerry Springer) source mentions Telegonus marrying Penelope, while Telemachus meets Circe and marrying her. Really weird and messed up, right?

MORAL: Surround yourself with people who aren’t holding you down.

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Sources that helped me write this lengthy post:

http://www.greekmythology.com/Myths/Heroes/Odysseus/odysseus.html

http://www.greeka.com/ionian/ithaca/ithaca-myths/odysseus.htm

http://www.ancient.eu/odysseus/

Check these informative resources out!

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