An Epic Timeline on "The Odyssey"

Ben & Jessica

Epic ?

An epic is a narrative poem that tells the story of a hero and relates to something important to the culture that it is being told in. The Odyssey is an epic about a hero's journey home after the trojan war. It was originally told by Homer in ancient Greek times.
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Movie on 11-10-14 at 8.46 AM

The Invocation

"Sing in me, Muse, and through me tell the story", Homer speaks as he begins to start telling the story of a man skilled in all ways "who fought only to save his life, to bring his shipmates home". That man is the hero of our story, Odysseus. The invocation is important to the story because it gives the reader an idea of what is to come and ultimately helps us better understand the story. The invocation tells of divine intervention and obstacles that seem impossible to beat.
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Missing in Action

It has been 10 years since the war in Troy has ended. Odysseus' son Telemachus has been searching the Mediterranean for his father who never returned. We are getting ready to find out where he was and what he was doing when mostly everyone assumed he was dead.

Hermes to the Rescue... Again

Odysseus has spent seven of the ten years as "Calypso's not entirely unwilling captive". Athena the Goddess of wisdom and Odysseus' mentor decided that was long enough and asked Zeus to help get him off the island. Zeus sent Hermes to oder the release of Odysseus. "hermes flew until the distant island lay ahead, then rising shoreward from the violet ocean he stepped up to the cave". He found the breathtaking island and the divine Calypso. Hermes told the nymph what Zeus had ordered and went to find Odysseus to tell him the news. Without this Divine intervention Odysseus may have never gotten off the island.

Take me home

Hermes found Odysseus with "tear on tear brimming his eyes. The sweet days of his lifetime were running out in anguish over his exile, for long ago the nymph had ceased to please". He still lay with her every night but really missed his home land. Only one last thing lay in the way of him finally getting home, he had to tell Calypso he was leaving. "Can I be less desirable than she is? Less interesting? Less beautiful? Can mortals compare with goddesses in grace and form" Calypso just can't understand why he would pass up immortality and being with her forever to go back to his ugly mortal wife but, he does and he leaves her.

We now enter the frame

The story will be told in flashbacks from here until we get caught up to Calypso's island again.

And you are?

Athena sends Odysseus to the Phaeacians where he is found by daughter of Alcinous, the king. In ancient Greece it was believed that visitors were sent by the Gods and in this case he was. Staying true to their culture the Phaeacians treat Odysseus to a banquet in his name before asking him who he is, and why he is there. Odysseus answers "I am Laertes' son, Odysseus." Then he begins to tell the entire story of his journey.
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Blown off course

"The wind that carried west from Ilion brought me to Ismaros, on the far shore, a strong point on the coast of the Cicones". Odysseus and his men stormed the island looking for supplies, but soon found that they were outnumbered and raced back for the ships. It was to late and the battle had already begun. "My men stood up and made a fight of it, with lances kept in play, from bright morning through the blaze of noon". When it was all over six benches were left empty in every ship. They set sail again for home and ended up drifting for 9 days.

The Lotus Eaters

On day 10 the crew came to an island were the friendly people who lived there offered them Lotus, the sweet flower that the natives lived off of. It seemed safe enough but "those who ate this honeyed plant, the Lotus, never cared to report, nor return: they longed to stay forever". Realizing the effects that the flower would have on him and his men Odysseus sent them back to the ships and they set sail looking only for Ithaca and finding only trouble.


In the the epic book series by Rick Riordan "Heroes of Olympus", the first book "The Lighting thief" Percy and his friends get locked in the Lotus hotel. It is filled with games and they end up spending a week when they thought it was an hour. They loose sight of the mission just like Odysseus and his men when they were on the island of the Lotus Eaters .


Curiosity may have killed the cat in the next adventure that Odysseus tells the court about. This adventure is the time he spent with the cyclops Polyphemus. He and his crew got into the giants cave and were waiting for him to return. When Polyphemus did return he "swung high overhead a slab of solid rock to close the cave". A rock so big that "two dozen four-wheeled wagons, with heaving wagon teams"' could not have moved it. Then the Cyclopes noticed the strangers in his home. They talk and Odysseus tries to get all of the men out before anyone dies, but the cyclopes had other ideas. "He caught two in his hands like squirming puppies, beat their brains out, spattering the floor. Then he dismembered them and made his meal". That night they planed to kill the giant before anyone else could die and they went to stab him when Odysseus staying true to his clever ways realized "if i kill him, we perish here as well, for we could never move his ponderous doorway slab aside". The Achaeans now are faced with the task of finding a different way out.

The day Polyphemus went crazy

Odysseus hatched a plan. His plan involved a prayer, a very large sharp stick, strong men, and some sheep. Odysseus prayed to Athena to give him the wisdom to overcome this obstacle, then they got the cyclops drunk. While they were giving him wine Odysseus told the cyclops his name, "My name is Nohbdy: mother, father, and friends, everyone calls me Nohbdy". Soon after the monster fell into a deep sleep and then the men got the pike then "straight forward they sprinted, lifted it, and rammed it deep in his crater eye". The newly blinded monster moved the door stone and stood in it waiting for all the men to run out. Odysseus had thought this plan through and tied him men to the belly of three sheep. Then Odysseus "took the wooliest ram, the choicest of the flock' and hung himself under his belly. When the rams woke they made there way out the door to the pasture and the blinded cyclopes stroked each ram and let it pass never feeling the men hiding underneath. The cyclops then shouting at the open "Nohbody will not get out alive, I swear."
Movie on 11-10-14 at 8.42 AM
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The day Odysseus messed up

Odysseus and his men were getting away when Odysseus started tempting the cyclops. "O' Cyclops! How do you like the beating that we gave you?" To this Polyphemus broke off a hilltop and threw it at the ship. This caused a giant wave and almost washed the boat back to shore. Odysseus ignored the protests of his men and yelled out "if ever mortal man injure how you were put to shame and blinded, tell him Odysseus, raider of cities took your eye". He gloated and gloated giving away information about himself and showing that his tragic or fatal flaw is pride, and needing to be remembered. All this gloating made the angry blinded cyclops even more mad and he called out to his father Poseidon, "O hear me, lord, of the islands, grant that Odysseus, raider of cities, never see his home again".

A bag of wind

After defeating the cyclops Odysseus and his men find themselves on the islad of Aeolus, the wind king. He decides to do the crew a favor and bags up all the stormy wind to grant them smooth sailing. Odysseus does not tell his crew what is in the bag and they get suspicious and open it. "The evil winds roar up into a hurricane that blows the ship back to Aeolia." This time however the king sends them away with no help.

And then there were some

They next find an island filled with giant cannibals, Laestrygonians. All but one of the ships are destroyed and the crews devoured. Odysseus' ship escapes and lands on Aeaea, home of Circe. Odysseus is still telling his story to King Alcinous and his court in flashbacks.

Men are pigs

On the island of circe, he sends 23 of his men in to check on the island. They are fearful at first because of the mountain lions and wolves outside but then the men see Circe weaving and singing. She takes them in, feeds them, and gives them a honey potion. Next she “shut them in a pigsty — bodies, voices, heads, and bristles, all swinish now, though minds were still unchanged”. One man escaped to run back and tell odysseus what had happened and realized that his friends were gone .

Hermes to the Rescue

Odysseus rushes to Circe’s hall to free his men, but Hermes stops him to offer some help. Hermes gives Odysseus a plant that will stop Circe's magic. Circe realizes that she has met her match and releases Odysseus men. They stay with her for a while, then “After many seasons of feasting and other pleasures, Odysseus and his men beg circe to help them return home.”

Circe’s Instructions

“Odysseus alone descend to the Land of the Dead, there Odysseus must seek the wisdom of the blind prophet Teiresias”. Doing this then men will finally figure out how to get home to Ithaca.

Sacrifices, Death, and Destiny

Following Circe's instructions Odysseus goes to the land of the dead. He promises to sacrifice his best heifer to the dead when he gets back to Ithaca and to Teiresias he sacrifices a black lamb that is the most handsome in the flock. He then waited for Teiresias to appear, fighting off other souls to keep them from his sacrifice. Soon the dark prince came forward, "a fair wind and the honey lights of home are all you seek. But anguish lies ahead; the god who tuners on the land prepares it, not to be shaken from your task implacable in rancor for the son whose eye you blinded." The past he spoke of first, the future then came. " One Narrow strait may take you through his blows: denial of yourself, restraint of shipmates. When you make landfall on Thrinakia first and quit the violet sea, you'll find the grazing herds of Helios. Avoid those kine, hold fast your intent. But if you raid the beeves, I see destruction for ship and crew". He also tells of what will happen when Odysseus finally gets to Ithaca.

Sirens and Scylla and Charybdis Oh My!

Odysseus has been telling the king and his court how he got to there island and where he was for 10 years. Most of hid crew is dead by this point in this story and we know that the rest will most likely not make it. The next part of Odysseus' story he is quoting Circe. After talking the the blind prophet Odysseus went back to Circe to collect his men and Circe warns of the perils that await him and his crew. She warns them that they need to know "plug the oarsmen's ears with beeswax kneaded soft; none of the rest should hear that song", this is how Circe tells them to get past the Sirens, she then tells them about the six headed monster Scylla. "She yaps abominably, a newborn whelps cry, she takes from every ship, one man for every gullet." Finally she warns Odysseus of charybdis. "Charydbis lurks below to swallow down the dark sea tide. Three times from dawn to dusk she spews it up and sucks it down again three times. if you come upon her then the god who makes eath tremble could not save you". She tells Odysseus it is better to loose six men to Scylla than all of them to Charybdis. Odysseus hears her warnings and then takes his men back to the sea.

Sailing with Sirens

Knowing that he was closer than ever to finally getting to Ithaca, Odysseus and his men were on the way again. Knowing that the sirens would come first and what to do Odysseus got to work, he "carried wax along the line, and laid it think on their ears." His tragic flaw coming out again Odysseus wanted to hear the Sirens song so he had his men tie him up and told them no matter what don't untie him. The ship made it through without any casualties, the men got the wax out of there ears and then untied Odysseus, preparing themselves for what was to come.

Scylla and Charybdis Vs. Odysseus and some guys

A sound like no other terrified the men as they were just leaving the Sirens. They did not want to continue on but Odysseus had other plans, "Friends", he said "have we never been in danger before this? Did I not keep my nerve, and use my wits to find a way out for us? Heads up, Lads!". A pep talk from there leader was all it took, the crew went rowing right into the doom of six for they did not know the fate ahead and were not told of it. They were in the straight, Scylla on one side, Charybdis on the other. Charybdis spit and "the shot spume soared to the landslide heights, and fell like rain." Then while they were busy thinking about being swallowed Scylla made her strike. Six of the best oarsmen were lost. They rowed on. The Sirens were now behind, Scylla and Charybdis too.
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Cattle of the Sun God

Odysseus knew what would happen if they stopped on Thrinakia. He had been warned twice and did not want to stop. His crew however were exhausted and didn't know what had been foretold to happen because Odysseus did not tell them. They stopped on the island and Odysseus made the men swear to not touch the cattle. Once they landed odysseus warned his men "Old shipmates, our stores are in the ship's hold, food and rink; the cattle here are not for our provision, or we pay dearly for it." The men were fine until a big storm came and the food they had on the ship ran out. Odysseus went to pray for salvation and fell asleep. While he was sleeping his men came together and killed one of the cows. Lord Helios is very angry and asks his father Zeus to punish Odysseus and his men for what they had done.

Thunder Strikes

"When Odysseus and his men set sol again, they are punished with death - a thunderbolt from Zeus". The ship is destroyed and Odysseus is the only Survivor. He makes his way to Calypso's island.

We are now up to date and Odysseus can now rest with ease in Alcinous' court

The story is now caught up to present time and we are now out of the frame. The rest of the events in the story flow in a normal Format.

Homeward Bound

Odysseus is returned to Ithaca in secret. When he arrives home he goes to the hut of an old servant. Athena has advised him to disguise himself as a beggar because his home is full of enemies. When he gets to the hut he is shown more of the Greek hospitality despite the fact that the old swineherd does not know he is the king. While this is happening Athena also goes to Telemachus, Odysseus' son. He has been out going to other countries to see if anyone knows anything about where his father could be if he is still alive. Athena tells Telemachus that it would be wise to go home because Ithaca is overrun with men who want to become his mothers wife. He returns home in secret and goes to the Swineherd also. Foreshadowing in this moment creates suspense and anticipation.

Who's your Daddy?

They eat, they sit, they talk and Telemachus still doesn't know that the beggar is really Odysseus. Athena can't take it any longer and restores Odysseus' youth. Startled and frightened Telemachus believes his dad is a God and asks for Mercy. To this Odysseus replies " No. I am that father whom your boyhood lacked and suffered pain for lack of. I am he". Telemachus at first does not believe that it really is his father and thinks that the Gods are just trying to trick him. When the lightbulb goes off Odysseus' son falls into his dad and they both cry in joy of finally meeting each other after being apart for so long.
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When coming back into town looking like a beggar once again no one recognized Odysseus but his old dog Argos. Once Odysseus left the poor thing was treated okay until the man died and then he was put off to the side with no one willing to look after him. Odysseus had to pretend he didn't know the dog and continue on is way, "But death and darkness in that instant closed the eyes of Argos, who had seen his master, Odysseus after 20 years".

I have news

The beggar is invited by Penelope to talk about where Odysseus may be. Odysseus makes up a story about him being on the way home. Being over joyed she gets a maid to wash his feet. A sign of respect in the culture and the maid notices a scar. Athena wants the suspense to continue building so she makes a test the suitors must pass before they can get to Penelope and a way for Odysseus to get revenge.

One last impossible task

"Here is my lord odysseus' hunting bow. Bend and string it if you can. Who send an arrow through iron as-helve sockets, twelve in line? I join my life with his and leave this place my home." Like so many others who don't want to get married, she has given the men an impossible task (archetype) and whoever can complete it gets the ultimate prize. Odysseus' kingdom, his wealth, and his wife.

Completing one Last Impossible Task

Still dressed as a beggar Odysseus goes in and asks if he can try his hand at stringing the bow. The other suitors laugh and say no but Penelope allows it and by doing this takes on her own husband as a suitor. After inspecting the bow "the man skilled in all ways of contending effortlessly in one motion strung the bow". The rest of the suitors hushed, this beggar had gotten farther than any of them had, now all he had to do was make the shot. "He picked one ready arrow from his table where it lay bare. He nocked it, let it rest across the handgrip and drew the string, now flashed arrow from twanging bow clean as a whistle through every socket ring." Then Telemachus accepted his father as the winner.

I Got 99 Problems and Antinous is no longer One

While Oddysseus was still a beggar and before he won the impossible contest he had another plan. A plan for revenge. He told all the people that if they heard anything to not worry about it that it was fine, and he took all the weapons from the suitors. He then revailed himself to the men and took out the ringleader Antinous with an arrow in the neck. The other men offered to pay back everything plus some and then leave, but Odysseus had other ideas. "There will be killing till the score is paid. You forced yourselves upon this house. Fight, or run for it, if you think you'll escape death". Athena drops in one last time to loan her shield and the Odysseus gets his revenge. "turning to strike again and again, while torn men moaned at death, and blood ran smoking over the whole floor". There were none left and all Odysseus has to do now is show himself to his wife.
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Happily ever after

Finally Odyssues gets to be with Penelope but at first she is not very open to him, "for long ago I armed self aganis the frauds of men, impostors who might come, all those many whoes ways bring evil on". So she made a plan and when Odyssues offered to sleep in a different bed she told the maid to move there bed out. Odyssues raged this could not be done unless someone had cut the bed out of the tree. He told Penlope this and she rejoyed because it was her Odysseus. They hugged and kissed and cried because they were final back together, forever.
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