What happens to the men who go ashore in the Land of the Lotus Eaters in "The Odyssey"?

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favoritethings eNotes educator| Certified Educator

When Odysseus and his crew reach the island of the Lotus-eaters, Odysseus sends just three men ahead "to scout out who might live there." He is being cautious, and so does not send all of his men to explore. This is another example of his intelligence. These three men find and mingle with the Lotus-eaters, who are very peaceful, and they "gave [the men] the lotus to taste [...]." Odysseus says that the men "lost all desire" to get a message back to the ship about the island's natives, to come back to the ship, or even to return home to Ithaca. They only want to stay there, with the Lotus-eaters, eating the lotus. However, unwilling to leave any members of his crew behind, Odysseus goes, himself, and finds the three men and forces them back to the ship. Once he has them back on board, he "hauled them under the rowing benches, lashed them fast and shouted out commands to [his] other, steady comrades [...]." So, he actually has to tie them up in order to get them to stay on the ship, and it sounds like he even has to remain with them to make sure they don't try to escape.

sullymonster eNotes educator| Certified Educator

When Odysseus' men went onto the Lotus Eaters island, they were encouraged by the natives to eat the Lotus plant.  This plant acted as a type of drug, causing the sailors to forget about their home and their goals.  Instead, the sailors only wanted to stay on the island, eating more Lotus plants.  Odysseus had to go onto the island to capture his own men and drag them back to the boat.

  • "...the land of the Lotus-eaters, who eat a flowery food....I sent forth some of my comrades to go and learn who the men were....and the Lotus-eaters did not plan death for my comrades, but gave them of the lotus to taste. And whosoever of them ate of the honey-sweet fruit of the lotus, had no longer any wish to bring back word or to return, but there they were fain to abide among the Lotus-eaters, feeding on the lotus, and forgetful of their homeward way. These men, therefore, I brought back perforce to the ships, weeping, and dragged them..."