Homer's Odyssey: A Retelling in Prose
by David Bruce
The ten-year Trojan War is over, and the Greeks have won. Odysseus, King of Ithaca, has been trying to return home while traveling and having adventures for an additional ten years, but the goddess Calypso is holding him captive on an island. Because of a visit to the Land of the Dead, Odysseus knows that when he returns to Ithaca, he will find his palace full of dangerous young men who party all the time, wasting his property. These young men want to marry his wife, disrespect his aged father, kill his son, and take over his palace. They would be happy to kill Odysseus as well. Odysseus must find a way to return home, help his immature son grow up, save his wife, return his father to respectability, and kill over 100 dangerous young men. If he fails, his family will suffer and he will either die or be a beggar for the rest of his life. The Odyssey is an epic adventure tale of maturity versus selfishness and good versus evil.
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This is a retelling of Homer's "Odyssey" in novel form.
Chapter 1: Athena and Telemachus.
Muse, goddess of inspiration, please help me. I have an important story to tell, and I need help to tell it. Please use me to tell the story.
Help me to tell the story of a man of twists and turns. His mind twists and turns to seek solutions to problems. His journey twists and turns in the Mediterranean—and beyond. His strategy conquered Troy. He is a man who tried mightily—but failed—to bring his companions home, fools though they sometimes were.
Help me to tell the story of Odysseus, the great individualist and mastermind and man who feels pain deeply.
All other heroes of the Trojan War were home by now—or dead. Only Odysseus remained away from his home. Odysseus was kept captive by Calypso the sea-goddess.
Still, most gods and goddesses pitied Odysseus now, so long absent from his island kingdom: Ithaca. But Poseidon, the great ruler of the seas, did not pity Odysseus. No, Poseidon was still angry. Poseidon still wanted Odysseus to suffer, to stay away from home, to long to see his day of homecoming. But Poseidon was now absent, away on a visit to the Ethiopians.
Zeus, the king of gods and of men, at home on Olympus among the gods and goddesses, spoke his mind about another homecoming: “Mortals have no shame, blaming the gods as they so often do for their own problems. Look at Aegisthus. Paris, Prince of Troy, visited Menelaus, King of Lacedaemon, and then ran away with his lawful wife, Helen, taking her to Troy. Angry, Menelaus and his older brother, Agamemnon, took hundreds of ships loaded with soldiers and fought a ten-year war to get Helen back. Clearly, pursuing another man’s wife is destructive, and Aegisthus should have realized that. But he didn’t, and he looked with desire at Clytemnestra, the lawful wife of Agamemnon. I even sent the messenger-god Hermes to tell him to leave Clytemnestra alone. Did he listen? No. Did he pay the price? Yes. Aegisthus killed Agamemnon when he returned home, and Agamemnon’s son, Orestes, kept anger in his heart. When Orestes became a young man, he exacted proper revenge and killed Aegisthus and avenged his father, exactly as a man ought to do.”
Athena, goddess of wisdom, sensing an opportunity to act and to help her favorite mortal, spoke to her father, Zeus, “Father, all you say is true. Aegisthus deserved what he got. He did the wrong thing, and he paid the proper penalty.
“But what about Odysseus? He has been cursed by fate. He is far from home, held captive on an island by Calypso. He longs to see his day of homecoming. He longs to see even the smoke of cooking fires rising from Ithaca. Is Odysseus your enemy? Has Odysseus shown you disrespect?”
- David Bruce, September 2011
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