Gorgeous women, vengeful gods, helpful gods, numerous riches, ugly monsters, and a hero with his crew. The Odyssey of Homer, translated by Allen Mandelbaum, tells of the hero Odysseus' journey home from Troy. At his home in Ithaca, Odysseus' estate and wife, Penelope, have being overtaken by suitors. Odysseus' son, Telemachus, begins a journey to discover news of his father. After being away from home for numerous years, Odysseus' main goal is to reach home and regain his wife and estate. Along the way Odysseus learns many lessons about life as he grows from an immature lout to a humble, mature man.
Odysseus' first stop after leaving Troy is Ciconia. Odysseus and his men do not show any respect for the people of the city. Odysseus and his men just want to have fun by taking over the city, and stealing all the treasure: " `I sacked their city, massacred their men. We took much treasure and we took their wives-and shared it all' " (170). Odysseus is his worst in Ciconia, only caring about himself and his own wants.
Next Odysseus learns a valuable lesson at the land of the Lotus-Eaters. Odysseus, being curious about the people and riches of the land, sends a few of his men off to investigate the island. His men come across the Lotus-Eaters. The Lotus-Eaters do not try to kill Odysseus' men, nor do Odysseus men harm the Lotus-Eaters. Instead, the Lotus-Eaters offer Odysseus' men fruit. Odysseus' men love the fruit so much, they have " `the least desire to bring back word or soon return [to the ship]. [T]hey [want] only to stay there, to feed upon that food and disremember their homeward path' " (172). Odysseus learns that he cannot become sidetracked or try to destroy anymore villages. If he does, Odysseus realizes he will forget where his journey is supposed to lead him, and he will never return to home.
Later Odysseus' ship stops at an island inhabited by Cyclopes. One of the Cyclopes, Polyphemus, captures Odysseus' and his men. To escape, Odysseus stabs Polyphemus' eye. As Odysseus is sailing away he shouts out, " `Cyclops, if any mortal man should ask about the shameful blinding of your eye, then tell him that the man who gouged you was Odysseus, ravager of cities: one who lives in Ithaca--Laertes' son' " (185). Odysseus is being prideful, ignorant, and asking for trouble. Polyphemus now knows Odysseus name and where he lives; Polyphemus can now easily have revenge whenever he wants.
By the time Odysseus and him men arrive at Aeolia, Odysseus has learned a few manners and is respectful to Aeolus. As Odysseus prepares to leave, Aeolus gives a bag of winds to Odysseus to aid him on his journey. Odysseus becomes greedy and does not want to tell his men what is in the bag. As a result Odysseus' men believe they are being cheated out of what they deserve: " `Just see what booty, splendid spoils, he carries back from Troy, while we, who toiled beside him, must return...