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Ancient Greek Mythology

Homer's Odyssey

8th century BC, Ancient Greek.

'I am a Cretan fugitive,' Odysseus lied. 'Phoenicians have left me stranded on this shore.'

It is nightfall when Odysseus sets out from the harbour near the palace of King Alcinous. He arrives at a distant shore in the early morning, around dawn, having journeyed throughout the night in a magical boat that can travel faster than a bird can fly, and lying all the time fast asleep upon a bed of blankets and linen sheets in a way that looked like death. Odysseus wakes to find himself upon a beach surrounded by all his possessions. Of the boat there is now no sign.

He is on a shore of Ithaca, the island that is his home. Odysseus has been trying to reach this island for the last nine years following the end of the Trojan War but has only been able to sail from island to island in an enchanted sea. Recognition, however, does not come easily to him. A young shepherd approaches – it is the goddess Athena in disguise.

‘What place is this,’ Odysseus asks this young shepherd.

‘The island of Ithaca,’ comes the reply.

‘Even on Crete we have heard of Ithaca,’ replies Odysseus, strangely. ‘But I am a fugitive and have escaped with half my wealth, as you can see. I killed Orsilochus, the son of Idomeneus, who wanted to rob me of all the things that I had taken from Troy when I commanded a Cretan contingent there. So I escaped Crete on a Phoenician boat, intending to travel to Pylos, but a storm sent us instead to this beach where they have left me stranded.’

Story fragment recounted from: Shewring, Walter, with an introduction by Kirk, G. S., 1980, reprinted 2008. Homer: The Odyssey. Translated from ancient Greek with an introduction. Oxford University Press. Book XIII, Odysseus Returns to Ithaca.

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references

Homer - Wikipedia

Odysseus - Wikipedia

Homer: The Odyssey - English translation, Internet Classics Archive

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