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Odysseus and the Trojan War

Odysseus was the king of Ithaca. He was one of the famous hero in the Trojan war and his adventures are detailed in Homer's great work Odyssey. He was clever, cunning and eloquent.
When the time came for Helen of Troy to choose a husband, Odysseus was one of the suitors. He suggested that all suitors take an oath to protect the interests of whomever she choose. It was Menelaus who won the hand of Helen eventually.

When Helen ran off with Paris to Troy, he feigned madness to avoid the war. He pretended to plough and sow salt instead of grains into the field. But when Palamedes placed his infant son, Telemachus, infront of the plow, he turned his plow away and his sanity was revealed.

On the battlefield, Odysseus was courageous and employed his eloquences and wiles to defeat his enemies. He persuaded the Greek generals to award him, instead of Ajax, Achilles armor. He devised the trick of all tricks: the Trojan Horse, without which the Greeks would have never won the war.

Going Home
AFter the war, Odysseus had a difficult time getting home. While sailing home he encountered natives who offered visitors the fruit of lotus. Three of his crew entirely forgotten the mission after eating the food. Odysseus had to dragged them back to the ships.

He then sailed to another island and met savage, one-eyed giants known as Cyclops. He and twelve crew were trapped in a cave inhabited by one of the giants, Polyphemus. Odysseus escaped by blinding the giant and tying his remaining men and himself to the undersides of ram of the ogre's flock.

Soceress Circe
On another island, he met the soceress Circe who transformed a few of men into swine. With the help of Hermes, Odysseus forced Circe to change his men back. Circe became his mistress and served Odysseus and his crew for a full year. Afterwhich, he was to travel to the Underworld to seek out the counsel of Teiresias, the famed Theban soothsayer. Teiresias told him not to lay a hand on the immortal herds of cattle tendered by the daughters of Helius on the island of Thrinacia. Before he set off again, Circe also warned him about more dangers: the Sirens and the Wandering Rocks.

Approaching the Sirens, Odysseus has his crew members filled their ears with beeswax and had himself bound tightly to the mast. The Sirens (birdwomen) seductive singing had caused many sailors to forget their purpose and abandon all acitivity until they died of starvation. After they escaped from the Sirens, they headed for the narrow Strait of Messina to avoid the Wandering Rocks. Why trying to avoid the whirpool Charybdis, six men were eaten by the Scylla: the long-necked, six headed beast.

Divine Cattle
After the harrowing escape, the crew finally stopped for rest in the island of Thrinacia. Odysseus warned them not to eat anything from the island. But when they their food stores were low, they killed some of the cattle of the sun-god, which Circe had warned them not to touch. This enraged the the daughters of Helius (sun-god). After they set sail again, Zeus sent a violent storm that killed everyone except Odysseus himself.

He was washed ashore on the island of Calypso (daugher of Atlas), who became his her lover and wanted him to remain with her forever. He stayed for seven years until Zeus ordered Calypso to let him go. Odysseus sailed away on a tiny boat, but was again shipwrecked by another storm sent by Poseidon. He finally swam ashore on the island of the Phaeacians, where he was fed amd clothed and and escorted home to Ithaca, after 20 years.

Kill the Suitors
However, during Odysseus' absence, his wife, Penelope, though had remained faithful to him, was under enormous pressure to remarry. Upon his return, Odysseus killed the host of suitors who lived off his wealth for years while waiting for his wife to choose one of them as her second husband.

The relatives of the killed suitors came back for vengeance. But Zeus and Athena intervened and brokered a peace between the two sides stopping the bloodbath.

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