A trip into mythology; Ithaca & Homer’s Odyssey

3 minutes to read

While living in Greece, even though I was familiar with all the mythological stories (indeed as I said, I grew up learning about Zeus and Hercules and a lot of other prominent mythological characters), I’ve never realised that the greek mythology is a such a huge topic of interest for people outside Greece. Questions and stories I’ve heard from friends and such facts inspired me to write this series of pages during which I’ll present to you some of the most mythological places and the stories hidden behind them!

If you love the greek mythology or if you have ever watched Percy-Jackson and enjoyed it, then keep reading cause I’m pretty sure you’re gonna appreciate the pages & the suggestions that are about to follow!

After having presented the mythological facts behind Athens’ ,Peloponnese, Crete, the majestic Olympus and their surroundings, it’s time to move towards probably to the most mythical island of Greece, Ithaca, the home of Odysseus.

The Odyssey

I began to read Greek myths at the age of 12 when I’ve been taught about the Odyssey, which in my opinion is one of the greatest stories ever told. It’s got everything: Cyclops and lotus eaters, Circe turning sailors into swine, a wife conquered by suitors, a faithful to the end dog and a continuous tension that never ends! It’s a fantastic adventure, a quest, an affirmation of life – and it all ends in Ithaca where Odysseus after many troubles returns back home.

If you never had the chance to hear about Odyssey (which I find impossible), I am here with this page to sum it up for you. As mentioned above the story takes place into Greece’s most mythical island, Ithaca. And it goes like this…

What's the Odyssey about?!

Years after the end of the Trojan War, the Greek hero Odysseus still hasn't come home to Ithaca. Most people figure he's dead. Soon enough, Homer lets us know that Odysseus is being held as a sex captive on the island of the goddess Calypso. Oh, and sea god Poseidon is ticked off at Odysseus, and sees no reason to let him get home.

Back in Ithaca, and 20 years later, Odysseus’ wife Penelope is getting swarmed by a horde of unwanted suitors, ready to replace the “dead” Odysseus and of course seeking for Penelope’s hand and the island’s throne! The suitors have established themselves in the palace and refuse to depart until Penelope accepts one of them as her husband.

Unlike the darkly tragic Achilles, Odysseus is much more the cunning hero of folktale, a survivor who is forced to deal with a series of monsters and supernatural creatures. He has to negotiate the various dangers and temptations that confront him in the course of his wanderings as he attempts to make his way home from Troy.

Among the various trials he faced were;

1) the Lotus-Eaters, who kindly offer his men some of the magical lotus plant, which immediately reduces anyone who tastes it to a state of blissful torpor and makes them forget all else,

2) the Cyclops, a one-eyed giant who traps Odysseus and his men in his cave and begins to devour them raw, one-by-one, until he is eventually blinded by Odysseus,

3) the enchantress-goddess Circe, who magically transforms Odysseus' men into pigs until Odysseus defeats and beds her

4) the Sirens, who sing a magically alluring song that lures sailors to their doom,

5) the Scylla and Charybdis, a man-eating monster and deadly whirlpool between which Odysseus must sail..

…and many more…

In the meantime, guided by Athena, Telemachus, Odysseus adult son, journeys to the Greek mainland in order to seek information about his missing father. At the end of the story, Odysseus enters the palace disguised as a beggar and witnesses first-hand the arrogance of the suitors. Finally, he and Telemachus slaughter the suitors, while Odysseus is restored as the lawful ruler of Ithaca and is reunited with Penelope.

Ithaca nowadays;

As said, famous all over the world as the mythical island of Odysseus, Ithaca charms its visitors with the laid-back mentality, its blue green waters and its lush greenery. Like all the Ionian islands, Ithaca, ideal for families and romantic couples offers crystal waters, sandy beaches, impressive trekking paths, an always shining sun and of course, delicious local meals (especially fish)!

Ithaca, Odysseus' mythical island
Ithaca, Odysseus' mythical island
Ιθάκη, Ελλάδα

Interesting right?! Enjoy!


The author

Chrisa Lepida

Chrisa Lepida

My name is Chrisa and I come from Greece. As nature lover, winter sports addict and Erasmus obsessed, I’m always writing about these topics.

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