In Homer's epic The Odyssey, what happened at the Land of the Lotus Eater?

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kipling2448 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Book IX of Homer's epic tale of the brave warrior Odysseus and his ten-year journey home to his wife and son, The Odyssey, the story's protagonist and his crew find themselves, having narrowly escaped Ismarus, and the city of Cicons, washed upon the shores of "the land of the Lotus-eater, who live on a food that comes from a kind of flower." That food, the "lotus," apparently has a strange, drug-like effect on those who consume it. Odysseus explains that the land's inhabitants are seemingly "drunk" from consuming the fruit of this plant and that, while apparently harmless, these peculiar people seemed to wander aimlessly. Indeed, when a detachment of Odysseus's crew is sent ahead to scout the situation, they are fed these same plants, and now are completely ambivalent about their journey home. As Odysseus describes the situation, "those who ate of it left off caring about home," and wanted nothing more than to stay in this strange land and continue to consume the lotus plant.

Not wanting to lose more of his men to this addictive plant, Odysseus orders the remaining members of the crew back on board the vessel, and he beats a hasty retreat. It is at this point, however, that the crew, with its next landing, encounters one of its most dangerous obstacles, the one-eyed giant called Cyclops, who will proceed to consume some of Odysseus's crew until the resourceful leader succeeds in blinding it and escaping once again.

iklan100 | Student

Driven by sea storms, in Book IX of theOdyssey,Odysseus and his men end up in the Land of the Lotus (or Lotos) Eaters, a rather lethargic place where the local inhabitants give some of them some fruit (of the Lotus plant supposedly) which induces 'forgetfullness', so that they forget about their homeward journey and goal and spend their time, too, in 'Lotus Eating' i.e. just dreaming and lounging about-- a term that has passed into common idiomatic use. Odysseus had to force a number of his men back to the ships, and they wept sadly and bitterly, but Odysseus insisted on them getting aboard and leaving, and when he had them on board, he had them tied up lest they wished to escape.

According to Greek mythology, the Lotus Eaters or 'Lotophagi', were people living somewhere in North Africa or near the coast of North Africa, who fed on this plant and remained in a stupor as a result, all the time. Many scholars today believe that in fact, it wasn't the Lotus flower but the Poppy, which yielded Opuim, which was in fact being thus mentioned.

Later, on leaving the Lotus Eaters, Odysseus and his men were then captured by the one-eye giant, the Cyclops Polyphemus, who herds them like sheep and eats them after fattening each one. Odysseus managed to famously blind him, to effect his escape.

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The Odyssey

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