Date posted: December 29th 2016
Book Title: The Odyssey (continued)
Ok, let’s take a breather here for a second. That’s some serious shit Odysseus just went through. He lost all his men and now he was all alone in this deserted island. I guess that’s what you get when you piss off the gods. Poor guy, and to think he had a wife and a kid waiting for him back home. Although that didn't stop him from rocking Circe’s boat… In fact, while in this new island, he met the goddess Calypso, and she also fell in love with him, forcing him to stay there as her sex slave for seven years. SEVEN years!
Imagine what people were thinking back home in Ithaca if their king suddenly disappeared, along with all his men. The first thing that comes to mind are his wife and son. Let me tell you what was going on with them. Knowing how much of a badass Odysseus was, by now you may have imagined that his wife was hot as hell, and you are right. And what happens when the boyfriend of some hot girl is gone for a long time (and is presumably dead)? Well, a bunch of douchebags start hitting on her. Shamelessly, deliberately, and disgustingly a bunch of scavengers invaded Odysseus’ house, started eating his food, and drinking his wine. They also lined up as potential suitors to marry his wife against her will.
And as far as his son goes, well, he was about 20 years old by the time his dad's seven years with Calypso ended, and all he saw was a bunch of scoundrels invading his home and treating everybody like shit, especially him because he seemed to be the only one expressing his disagreement with this whole situation. His name was Telemachus. And after years of wondering where his father was, it looked like the gods finally decided to help.
It turns out Athena (the goddess of wisdom) got together with all the gods while Poseidon was on vacation and told them she was going to help Odysseus return home. She came down to Earth1, talked to Telemachus, and asked him to go around Greece asking people if they had seen his father. Her plan was for Telemachus to hear all the stories people knew about his dad so he would get pumped about who he was. Athena also went down to Calypso and told her she had to give up her little sex toy. Calypso didn't like this, of course, but she gave in and told Odysseus he was free to go.
So Odysseus built himself a raft with whatever he found on the island and sailed northeast for several days. Obviously he was very suspicious and afraid of this whole situation, because if Poseidon saw him drifting in the middle of the Mediterranean (on a one‑man raft), he would be certainly fucked. But he had no choice.
He almost made it undetected all the way to the City of the Phaeacians. But right when he was within sight of the land, Poseidon spotted him, and unleashed all his wrath upon him. He was ‘this’ close to drowning but fortunately Athena helped a little, and he managed to swim to the shore. And with his lungs almost collapsing from seawater, he dragged himself into the woods where he found a nice little spot under the trees to crash and recover from all that shenanigans.
Just like Hermes did earlier (disguised as a human) ↩
The dick‑god of the seven seas ↩
Of course, what else could have happened? ↩
Must have been and old‑ass dog! ↩
Mmmmmm, I love it! ↩
I guess it didn’t have its string on to preserve elasticity ↩
I think these rings are at the end of the handle to hang them on the wall ↩
It was like a 6th century BCE Cinderella ↩
One job Telemachus, one job... ↩
The next morning, everything looked much better. Odysseus was closer and closer to home every passing hour. He woke up to the laughter of some girls taking a bath in a nearby creek, and when he talked to them, one of them turned out to be the daughter of King Alcinous. Another friendly king, and that could only mean one thing… Option two! They ate, drank, heard each other’s stories and were best friends for months. In fact, most of the book is Odysseus narrating his own story to these people. They even had some sort of Olympic games where Odysseus participated—and killed it3. And as expected, when it was time to go, they loaded a ship with a ton of gold and gifts for him. They were also friendly enough to drop him off in Ithaca that night.
A plan to kill ‘em all!
Alright! Finally Odysseus was back home! They dropped him off at a place that he almost didn't recognize, but Athena showed him he was, indeed, in Ithaca. She also warned him of the troubles he was about to go through. All these people invading his home could turn pretty violent if they saw him—after all, they were about to split all his money among them, and one of them was to take his wife. So Odysseus and Athena devised a plan where Athena was to disguise him as an old beggar so he could approach the town undetected and surprise the suitors when they least expected. She also gave him the power to remove his magical costume at will, so that’s cool.
Odysseus first went to one of his workers who lived in the outskirts of town and told him to go fetch Telemachus (his son). It had been 20 years since the last time he saw his son, and after an emotional father‑son moment, they planned out how to kill ALL of those motherfuckers invading their house. It wasn't easy, though. There were about 52 suitors in his house. 52 vs. 2! There were maybe two other loyal house servants that would be able to help but still, 52 vs. 4.
Anyway, they got to Odysseus’ house, and obviously no one recognized Odysseus, with the exception of his dog4. But as far as people went, everyone else thought he was just an old beggar that Telemachus was helping out.
So at dinner time, Odysseus started talking to everyone (testing their hearts) but obviously they treated him like shit, confirming that indeed all 52 suitors deserved to die. It was out of these conversations that my favorite line of the book comes out, when Odysseus tells one of the suitors “you are insolent and cruel, and you think yourself a great man because you live in a little world.”5 He also talked to other people like house‑workers and friends, to see if they were still loyal to him—including his wife Penelope.
Finally, after a bunch of shenanigans, Athena came down (again) and talked to Penelope—who still had no idea her husband was already in the house—and told her she was to set up a contest, in which the winner would be her ‘new husband’. The contest was to use Odysseus’ old bow, string it6, and use it to throw an arrow through the rings of twelve axes7. So they lined the axes up, and passed the bow around.
The funny thing is that no one could even string it! It was too stiff! They passed it around in a mixture of denial, anger, and disappointment8. Finally Telemachus said, “Why don't we just let the hobo try…” There was something about the beggar that made them object, but in the end they let him do it. And of course, Odysseus grabbed the bow, put the string on, not a problem, lined it up with absolute control, and ZOOM! The arrow went right through all the twelve rings and onto the target board.
He had done it! But the bloodbath was just about to begin. Everyone turned their heads from the target board back to the beggar, and it wasn't the beggar anymore, it was Odysseus. And after a couple of words, he started shooting arrows through the eyes (and hearts) of whichever suitors he saw—before the rest ran outside in panic!
Some of them headed for the house armory, which Telemachus was supposed to lock but, somehow, they still got in9. Odysseus was in trouble now—one thing is Odysseus (the badass) versus 50 unarmed guys, that’s a no‑brainer. Another thing is Odysseus (the badass) versus 50 armed dudes. Not so easy. The fight went on for quite a while, but in the end, Odysseus stood up over a pile of dead bodies and a river of blood running down the hallways. Everyone who had to be killed was killed and everyone who had to be saved was saved.
He had made it! He had returned to his wife and son after 20 years! PLUS, he did so with a ton of gold that the super‑nice King Alcinous had given him for being such a cool guest. And this is why my Book‑in‑a‑Sentence was “Always be good to your guests, and if you are a guest, you better be respectful to your host—or you might just regret it...”
I want you guys to think about the barriers, hurdles, and confrontations we attract (or provoke) because of our ego. And my question is: Are there any instances where having a strong ego is beneficial? Or does it just hurt us and those around us? Please answer in the comments below or tweet about it using #odysseyquestion
Also if you have a funny story in which you went through an Odyssey because of a stupid mistake that could have been prevented, I’d love to hear the story...
Thank you guys so much for reading, and don't forget to read more. But don't read books to say you did. Read them consciously! And write about them, for it is the only way for them to stay solid in the mind.