The Odyssey

#2 The gods make a case for Odysseus (aka the Hecatomb!)

Hermes and Athena


So, Odysseus is missing after the war at Troy where he was a hero for coming up with the Trojan horse plan. Somehow or another he got lost and never returned to Ithaca and his wife and children. Odysseus is stranded (I think) on an island somewhere thanks to his nemesis Poseidon. Poseidon is upset about Odysseus’ defeat of his cyclops son Polyphemus awhile back.

The other gods love Odysseus though. They have all been discussing how to help him out. There’s only so much they can do since Poseidon is upset. Athena seems to love Odysseus the most and sticks her neck out for him. She and Hermes visit Ithaca to comfort his family.

In this episode, you will get a lot of backstory and lineage but it’s still fascinating. Homer is setting the stage for an epic adventure!

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My favorite new word I learned was “hecaton”. The word in the story is “hecatomb” which is a large sacrifice of 100 oxen. “Hecaton” is the word for 100 oxen (presumably alive). You can add heca to anything, try it! Its hecarad! (100 rads)

The Text: Book I

In a Council of the Gods, Poseidon absent, Pallas procureth an order for the restitution of Odysseus; and appearing to his son Telemachus, in human shape, adviseth him to complain of the Wooers before the Council of the people, and then go to Pylos and Sparta to inquire about his father.

Tell me, Muse, of that man, so ready at need, who wandered far and wide, after he had sacked the sacred citadel of Troy, and many were the men whose towns he saw and whose mind he learnt, yea, and many the woes he suffered in his heart upon the deep, striving to win his own life and the return of his company. Nay, but even so he saved not his company, though he desired it sore. For through the blindness of their own hearts they perished, fools, who devoured the oxen of Helios Hyperion: but the god took from them their day of returning. Of these things, goddess, daughter of Zeus, whencesoever thou hast heard thereof, declare thou even unto us.

Now all the rest, as many as fled from sheer destruction, were at home, and had escaped both war and sea, but Odysseus only, craving for his wife and for his homeward path, the lady nymph Calypso held, that fair goddess, in her hollow caves, longing to have him for her lord. But when now the year had come in the courses of the seasons, wherein the gods had ordained that he should return home to Ithaca, not even there was he quit of labours, not even among his own; but all the gods had pity on him save Poseidon, who raged continually against godlike Odysseus, till he came to his own country. Howbeit Poseidon had now departed for the distant Ethiopians, the Ethiopians that are sundered in twain, the uttermost of men, abiding some where Hyperion sinks and some where he rises. There he looked to receive his hecatomb of bulls and rams, there he made merry sitting at the feast, but the other gods were gathered in the halls of Olympian Zeus. Then among them the father of gods and men began to speak, for he bethought him in his heart of noble Aegisthus, whom the son of Agamemnon, far-famed Orestes, slew.