What happens on Ismarus, what happens to Polyphemus, what does Odysseus do on Circe's island, and how is his encounter with the dead?

1 Answer | Add Yours

durbanville's profile pic

durbanville | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

1) Odysseus is an intrepid traveler and, in Book 9 of The Odyssey, he relates the details of his exploits to the king of Scheria which island belongs to the Phaeaceans. He tells of the time when he and his men land on Ismarus, killing the men there and taking the women as slaves. However, they do not leave the island immediately, choosing to ignore Odysseus's call to leave. The remaining Cicones call for help from others- "more skilled in the art of war." Cicones subsequently arrive, forcing Odysseus to immediately gather his men and leave - but not without serious losses.

2) Having once again been in a hurry to leave- this time leaving the land of the Lotus-Eaters, Odysseus takes his men to the land of the Cyclops. Polyphemus is a giant, a beast big enough to block out the sunlight who is observed by Odysseus's men until he spots them and making light work of two of them, he eats them - such is his "hospitality." As Odysseus and his remaining men are now trapped in the cave, Odysseus has to make a plan to escape. He cannot simply "stab some vital spot" as they cannot get past the giant and so Odysseus puts together a plan and blinds Polyphemus from a stick fashioned out of a club and this allows the remaining men to escape the cave on the underside of Polyphemus's sheep.

3) By the time Odysseus and his men reach Circe's Island (Book 10), they are in no mood for exploring after their most recent encounter with the destructive Laestrygonians. However, Odysseus eventually dispatches a crew to search but unfortunately, all of them, except  Eurylochus, are turned into pigs by the goddess Circe. Odysseus has to confront her himself but is armed with advice from Hermes and, in fact, is able to overwhelm her and her powers are diminished. Odysseus's men are restored from their animal (pig) state and they then spend many months on the island, forgetting all about returning home. It is Odysseus's men who remind him.

4) Odysseus can only return home if he first goes via "the house of Hades" and consults with Teiresias, the prophet. The dead are "poor feckless ghosts" and Odysseus witnesses the soul of one of his men who recently died. Odysseus then sees his mother who was still alive when he left Troy but has apparently died.  Odysseus meets with Teiresias and is cautioned to take care on his journey home which will be arduous. He may have to face Poseidon because he blinded Polyphemus and, if he touches the animals on Thrinacian then he may not even make it home. Teiresias prophesies that Odysseus will take revenge on his wife's suitors but, after everything, his life will end "gently." Odysseus manages to talk briefly with his mother. ...

Sources:

We’ve answered 318,908 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question