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One of Magoulick's approaches to heroes' journeys are that they are meant to benefit people:
Legends are used to warn, teach, enlighten, caution; therefore the stories circulated from long ago can still be considered legends because they warn, or teach, about some unselfconscious reflection of major concerns of individuals in societies. They are also circulated cause they may be found humorous.
With regard to the instructional purpose of a hero's journey, there are two episodes which demonstrate the dangers and lures of temptations:
- In Book 9 of the Odyssey, Odysseus and his men are swept by high winds from Troy and land in Ismarus, a city of the Cicones; there in their greed Odysseus's men plunder the city, but the Cicones retaliate. The Greeks flee, but have lost six men per ship. Then, Zeus sends a storm that lasts for nine days, and the men are helpless on the sea until they are brought to the land of the Lotus-Eaters, who offer the men their "honeyed plant." However, the men who took this delicacy
never cared to report, nor to return:
they longed to stay forever....
Odysseus has to force the men to the ships and tie them to their rowing benches so that they can depart.
- In another incident, when the men find land, it belongs to the Cyclopes, "giants, louts, without a law to bless them." On this island, it is Odysseus who is tempted and wishes to linger when he should not. He and the men discover a cave belonging to the Cyclops Polyphemus, son of Poseidon. Within this cave is bounty: a wineskin full, a drying rack replete with cheeses, and nearby vessels filled with milk. On another side were sheep of varying ages. When the men urge Odysseus to depart after they steal nourishment, he refuses because he wishes to see the Cyclops and "what he had to offer." When the giant returns, he is somewhat cordial at first, but then becomes angered and eats two of the men and imprisons the others in his cave with his other stock and food. Only because of his intelligence is Odysseus able to devise a plan in which the men make their escape as they get the giant drunk, then blind him. In the morning, they hide within the flock that is sent out to graze and rush to their ships.
Both of these episodes offer cautionary tales of the dangers of succumbing to temptations and the indulgence of desires. The men enjoyed the lovely escape from reality offered by the sweet-tasting lotus, but at risk to their lives. Likewise, Odysseus risks his and his men's lives by wishing to indulge his curiosity about the Cyclops. Certainly, it is dangerous to succumb to the temptations of the flesh which often threatens one's welfare.
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