*Odysseus' Face*

Setting Off On The Wrong Foot

Yes, I am Odysseus, known for my cunning in war and peace. I come from the rocky and mountainous isle of Ithaka. Perhaps not the most beauteous place on this wide world, but no less beloved. I have been held in the arms of radiant deities such as Kalypso who would make pers island and person as enchanting as possible to steal my heart away, and Kirke who both loved and respected me. Neither could engender within me the tender sweet feelings I hold toward home and family.

No doubt you are all anxious to hear what became of me after the Trojan war. When I treasure kinship above all else, how could I have so disappeared from the knowledge of all humankind over the last number of years? And what rough adventure have I met with in that time?

I with several ships of soldiers left Troy on an apparently fair wind, and sailed west to Ismaros where stood a stronghold of the Kikones. We were still full of bloodlust after our final battle. It is hard for soldiers to feel that they have won or deserve their victory, when so many close to them have died. We came to shore wanting to just take whatever appealed and revel in our freedom. My soldiers stormed the port stripping all of value and taking it to the beach to divide amongst themselves.

I ordered them to return to the ships immediately sensing something was already awry, but still lost in my own mixed feelings of guilt, rage, and grief. "Out to sea, out to sea!" I cried. However, my soldiers would not return preferring to stay on the beach slaughtering cattle, roasting them and drinking to oblivion. Of course refugees from our raid fled inland calling the main fighting force of Kikones to arms.

With the blazing of dawn the Kikones regiments appeared, and my soldiers stood and fought not well on that evil day. Zeus' curse was upon us for our own foolishness. Upon horseback they came at us wave after wave, as numerous as leaves of grass. Though we were outnumbered, we held our own on the beach through the morning and into the afternoon until we could launch from that deathly shore. Six benches in every ship were left empty. We had given ourselves even more to grieve on our way home.

Dark clouds hovered about our spirits and covered the skies. A storm blew in from the north that grew to hurricane proportions. The bows plunged deeply into the waves. Driving winds and driving rains tore our sails to tatters. We took them down for fear of being shipwrecked, then rowed to shore. For two days we waited for the storm to subside, and too soon we took once more to the waves. As we came round Malea, an ocean current took us out to sea and a fresh gale blew us past Kythera.


Lotus Floats.

Copyright © 1998 Katherine Phelps