In the Odyssey, the main character Odysseus learns lessons while trying to get back home to Ithaca.
After winning the Trojan War, the Greek soldier Odysseus tries to return home to his island Ithaca. He desperately misses his wife Penelope and his son Telemachus.
Because Odysseus is proud and not appreciative of the gods' influence in his life, he becomes lost and it takes him ten years after the ten-year Trojan War to get home:
Unfortunately for Odysseus, his arrogance and lack of worship to the Gods caused Poseidon to have distaste towards him.
From then on, Odysseus travels through precarious adventures. He has to overcome dangerous obstacles.
First, Odysseus encountered the Cicones. He and his men fought and killed the men and took the women as slaves. While Odysseus' men become greedy, the Cicone men gathered reinforcements and began to kill Odysseus' men. Odysseus and his men had to flee. Odysseus had warned his men:
We took their wives and also much booty, which we divided equitably amongst us, so that none might have reason to complain. I then said that we had better make off at once, but my men very foolishly would not obey me, so they stayed there drinking much wine and killing great numbers of sheep and oxen on the sea shore.
While Odysseus' men ignored Odysseus' warning, the Cicone men came back ready to fight:
Meanwhile the Cicons cried out for help to other Cicons who lived inland. These were more in number, and stronger, and they were more skilled in the art of war, for they could fight, either from chariots or on foot as the occasion served; in the morning, therefore, they came as thick as leaves and bloom in summer, and the hand of heaven was against us, so that we were hard pressed.
Next, Odysseus encounters the Lotus-Eaters. He states that he was driven off course by winds:
I was driven thence by foul winds for a space of 9 days upon the sea, but on the tenth day we reached the land of the Lotus-eaters, who live on a food that comes from a kind of flower. Here we landed to take in fresh water, and our crews got their mid-day meal on the shore near the ships. When they had eaten and drunk I sent two of my company to see what manner of men the people of the place might be, and they had a third man under them. They started at once, and went about among the Lotus-eaters, who did them no hurt, but gave them to eat of the lotus, which was so delicious that those who ate of it left off caring about home, and did not even want to go back.
Odysseus forced his men back to ships. They wept bitterly, longing to stay and munch on the lotus.
Towards the end of Odysseus' journey, he lands on Calypso's island. Calypso is a nymph. She holds Odysseus hostage for seven years. Finally, Athena pleads with Zeus on Odysseus' behalf. She convinces Zeus to insist that Calypso set Odysseus free. Although Calypso desired to make Odysseus her husband, thus making him immortal, she had to release Odysseus to return to his home in Ithaca.
Ultimately, Odysseus is reunited with his beloved Penelope and his dear son Telemachus. Odysseus is humbled and recognizes the gods do have influence in the lives of men.