Homer’s Odyssey

Synopsis and characters

It’s been a long time since Ulysses, king of Ithaca, has left his homeland to go to war. On his way home he dallies with Calypso who tries to keep him and asks him to stay. However, the time has come for him to return home. As he crosses the seas, he meets many obstacles and confronts many perils. Meanwhile, the land of his birth is devoured mercilessly by the greed and the thirst for power of the suitors who are fighting over Penelope’s hand in marriage, whom they think is widowed.
She, however, knows in her deepest self, that he will be back.

Ulysses

“ I pillaged the town and I killed the inhabitants. We shared the women and the riches so that no one lacked loot. I exhorted my men to flee rapidly, but the fools didn’t want to hear me. Drunk on wine, they slaughtered sheep and heavy treading oxen near the sandy riverside.”

Odyssey, chant IX, vv. 40-46

 

Penelope

“He was always very convincing. Lots of people believed his version of the events, with maybe a few less assassinations, beautiful women seduced, and vague one-eyed monsters. Even I, I believed it occasionally; I knew that he was cunning and that he invented tales, but I didn’t think him capable of fooling me and telling me lies. Was I not faithful? Did I not wait, wait and wait despite the temptation – almost the compulsion – to abandon hope?”

Penelope’s Odyssey, Margaret Atwood.

 

Antinoos – one of the suitors

“The suitors will continue to exhaust your resources and to devour your goods as long as Penelope doesn’t quit the idea that I don’t know which god has put in her head. Let her obtain an unprecedented glory, it will cost you much. We will not return to our business, nor return to our fields as long as she does not decide to take one of us as husband.”

— Odyssey, chant II, vv. 122-129.

 

Calypso

“You want to stay! The heavens know that you do! You’re nothing but a bunch of dreams and old desires. Do you want me to tell you what you have inside?

Fear, fear, do you hear me? You are afraid of returning to your town (…) you are afraid that your wife has changed and that your son will no longer want to sit in your lap. You are afraid of life. You are afraid…”

— Happy Odysseus, Eyvind Johnson.

 

Translation Richard Harris.

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