The story commences when Odysseus, a valiant hero of the Trojan war, journeys back home. Together with his courageous comrades, and a several vessels, he set sail for his homeland Ithaca. Fated to wander for a full ten years, Odysseus’s ships were immediately blown to Thrace by a powerful storm. The expedition had begun.
Upon this misfortune, he and his men started a raid on the land of the Cicones. However, this only provided them with temporary success. The Cicones had struck back and defeated a vast majority of Odysseus’s crew. This was their first of many disastrous experiences to come.
Storms then blew his ships to Libya and the land of the Lotus-eaters, where the crew was given Lotus fruit from which most lost their entire memories from home. Odysseus, and the others who had not tasted it, recovered the sailors by force, and set sail again, westward, this time to the island of the Cyclops, a wild race of one-eyed giants. Leaving most of his men in a sheltered cove, Odysseus then entered the island with one crew only. They wandered around, encountering, and foolishly entering an immense cave, awaiting the owner. Moments later, a Cyclops named Polyphemos, son of Poseidon, entered and pushed a huge bolder covering the entrance to the cave. Upon this, he immediately ate two sailors, and promised to eat the others in due time. The morning came, and Polyphemos had promptly eaten two more seamen, against the will of Zeus. Odysseus soon realized that killing him asleep would do no good since the mouth of the cave was still inescapable. The captain had then devised a new plan. When Polyphemos returned that evening, Odysseus showered the monster with wine until he had fallen under a drunken spell. Then, with the help of his companions took a sharp pole and rammed it into his large eye, blinding him instantaneously. As the crew sailed away into the vast dimensions of the sea, Odysseus had unwisely revealed his name in taunting the poor beast, boasting his excessive pride. Polyphemos then made a prayer to his father, asking to punish the man who had caused him this harm.
Several days later Odysseus and his men arrived at the island of Aeolus, keeper of the winds. There, they stayed for about one month, and departed, in sight of the long-awaited Ithaca. However, before they left, Odysseus was presented with a container of winds, carrying each but the needed West wind. As Ithaca approached, the crew not knowing the contents of the “skin”, opened it up and released all of the winds, depositing the ships back at the island of Aeolus, who refused to help them any further.
Setting sail once again, the group headed back west, where they had come across the Island of the Laesrtygonians, a savage race of cannibals. Everyone, but Odysseus, lined their ships at the harbor, covered with rocks. The entire party was attacked and eaten by the Laestrygonians, who had bombarded them with giant boulders. Having but one vessel left, Odysseus sailed his ship to the Island of Dawn, inhabited by the sorceress Circe.
A group of men were sent to explore the island, who were then lured, feasted, and the turned to swine by Circe. Knowing this Odysseus went after her, and on his way encountered Hermes who gave him a potion to withstand the spell. Circe tried, and then she failed. Odysseus had then requested for his crew to be turned back to normal. She complied, and eventually housed Odysseus and his shipmates long enough for him to father three children. Homesick and distraught, Odysseus was then advised by Circe to search the underworld for Teiresias, to tell him his fortune, and how to appease Poseidon.
Odysseus agreed and made a trip to the underworld, where he discovered many of his dead companions from Troy, and most importantly, Teiresias. With his new knowledge, he returned to Circe, which had provided him with just the information he needed to pass the Sirens. They then departed from the island and continued on their journey, ears filled with wax.
What Odysseus was about to encounter next would be a very difficult task. He needed to direct his ship through a straight, between two cliffs, on one side the whirlpool Charybdis, on the other, a monster Scylla. Trying hard to avoid Charybdis Odysseus came too close to Scylla, and six members of his ship suffered the consequences. As the journey continued the Island of Helios stood in path. Helios was the sun god, and nurturer of the cattle of the gods. Knowing this, but at the same time extraordinarily hungry, Odysseus waited for his sea-mates to fall asleep and slaughtered several of the cattle. This was much considered a lack of respect not only to Helios, but to the rest of the gods as well.
Zeus, angered by his gesture, struck his ship with thunder, destroying the entire thing and killing the rest of the crew except for Odysseus, which floated off to the Island of Ogygia, where he would there spend the next seven years, made a lover, by the sea nymph Calypso. Upon Poseidon’s departure to Ethiopia, Zeus had then ordered that Calypso release Odysseus, who gave him an ax. With this, he constructed a float, and continued his expedition. Back from his trip, Poseidon, saw Odysseus floating in the ocean and felt compelled to drown him, which he almost did, if it was not for the goddess Ino, who had spared him a magic veil. He tied this to his waist, and swam to a beach where he immediately fell asleep.
The next morning maidens playing ball after doing the wash awaked him. There he saw Nausikaa, daughter of king Alkinoos. Odysseus gently supplicated to the princess. She first took him to the inhabitants of the island, the Phaiakians, and then Alkinoos, the king. There he listened to Odysseus’s stories, and presented him with lavish gifts and a furnished ship back to Ithaca. Resenting this fact, Poseidon turned the new crew into stone for their generosity.