The island of Ithaka, which in English is usually spelled Ithaca, was the homeland of Odysseus, its king, as depicted in the Iliad and the Odyssey by Homer. The Iliad tells of the part Odysseus plays in the Trojan War, and the Odyssey deals with Odysseus's ten-year journey home to Ithaka after the war was over. In the poem "Ithaka," C. P. Cavafy makes references to this voyage. For instance, the Laistrygonians, the Cyclops, and the angry god Poseidon were all dangers that Odysseus and his men had to overcome on their seemingly endless voyage.
When you are considering the meaning of the first three lines of the poem, however, it is important to understand that the "you" the poet is speaking to is not Odysseus, but rather the reader of the poem. Cavafy is using the journey of Odysseus to Ithaka as a metaphor of the reader's journey through life.
Unlike Odysseus, who was anxious to get back to Ithaka as quickly as he could, the poet cautions the reader to travel slowly, to take time, and to savor the...
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