What happens to Odysseus and his men when they visit the Land of the Lotus Eaters?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Book IX of The Odyssey, Odysseus begins the tale of his wanderings, starting with the journey's second part, that from Ogygia through Phaeacia. Odysseus begins by describing the departure from Troy:

Following Odysseus's and his men's plundering of the Ciconians, Zeus roused a storm against the ships, driving some of them to death; the other ships were brought to the nearest place that was sheltered from the wind by the strength of the sailors who rowed with their oars. After the storm, the men set sail again and made progress until they came round Malea and the current drew them farther out to sea. They drifted nine days; on the tenth day, they landed on a coastline belonging to the Lotus-Eaters. After a meal, Odysseus sent sailors to learn who dwelt there. These men came upon the Lotus-eaters who, meaning no harm, 

...gave them lotus to taste; but whosoever of them ate the lotus's honeyed fruit wished to bring tidings back no more and never to leave the place, but with the Lotus-eater there desired to stay, to feed on lotus and forget his going home.

This tale is not dissimilar to the tales of the American soldiers during the Vietnam Conflict. There were some who became so addicted to drugs which were , so disillusioned with America and the protests at home against the "war" and insults toward soldiers that they went AWOL and did not return to the States. In their disillusionment and drug-induced state, they lost sight of duty and country, and any meaning to life.

Similarly, Odysseus's men who have been through battles and terrible storms at sea are lured by the euphoria of the lotus, and they lose their mental strength, caring no more if they ever reach home, content on the island of the Lotus-Eaters and losing their souls.

mlgendron7 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

When they arrive in the land of the Lotus Eaters, Odysseus sends out a total of three men (2 men and a runner) to explore the island. These three men eat the Lotus and lose "their hope of home," which means they forget about their entire goal: to go back to Ithaca. Odysseus warns the rest of his men not to eat the Lotus and ties up the three men in an attempt to bring them home anyway.

troutmiller eNotes educator| Certified Educator

When Odysseus and his men eat the lotus plant, it makes them forget their longing for home.  All they want to do is eat the lotus plant and stay there.  This is bad because Odysseus wants to get home to his wife and son.  The people of the lotus plant are very friendly, but the intoxicating plant is dangerous because it makes them forget.

cis | Student


That's the only thing I have to add to troutmiller's response...

jonnysteinz | Student

what is the moral or lesson to the episode of the lotus eaters?

bella11 | Student

yes they did and they didn't want to go back home because they were addicted to the lotus plant. yup they were :D

pinkytune123 | Student

His soldiers became addicted to the lotus plants but the six-headed lotus-eater gobbled up Odysseus's six crew. SIMPLE!! In one sentence.

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The Odyssey

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