The primary text we’re looking at is a section of The Odyssey, written by Homer during the Dark ages in Greece. Here are some key points:
- The story begins 20 years after Odysseus left to fight in the Trojan War and ten years after he began his journey home to Ithaca. At home, his wife and son are waiting for him. Penelope rebuffs her many suiters, weaving and unweaving a cloth as she waits.
- We’re meeting him in the 11th book, after he’s already been found in a stupor on a beach, has met the Lotus Eaters, whose flowers drugged his men, has fought and blinded a cyclops who called on his father, Poseiden, to avenge him. We hear about Aiolos’ bag of winds, “[Aiolos] stinted nothing, adding a bull’s hide sewn from neck to tail / into a mighty bag, bottling storm winds; for Zeus had long ago made Aiolos warden of winds, to rouse or calm at will.”(Lines 18-22, Book X). After this, the men met Circe who had turned his men into pigs, and here we meet him on his journey into the kingdom of the dead.
- Key figures include:
- Achilles, the half-divine man who was invincible but for his heel
- the Penelope, Odysseus’ wife
- Teiresias, a blind proophet of Apollo, who had turned into a woman for seven years because he’d come upon some copulating snakes and he hit them; Hera punished him by making him a woman. While he was a woman he married (in some stories) or was a prostitute (in others). Seven years later, he came upon some snakes again, and either left them alone (and was turned back into a man) or struck them again (and was turned back to a man).