Ancient Geography & Travels of Ulysses Part 1

About the ancient travels of Greek figure and hero Ulysses who wandered for 10 years following the Trojan War, history and account of his travels.



Before Beginning. The Trojan War dragged on for 10 years, until the clever Greek king of Ithaca, Ulysses, conceived of an idea to build a gigantic wooden horse, secretly load it with a contingent of warriors, and leave it at the gates of Troy. Ulysses' trick worked, inspiring the expression "Beware of Greeks bearing gifts." Thinking the Greeks had accepted defeat and left them a present, the Trojans brought the Trojan Horse within their city walls. That night, the Greeks came out from hiding and opened the city gates for the rest of their comrades, who were waiting outside. They stormed into Troy and sacked and burned it. Then, the war successfully over, the Greeks left. Of all of them, Ulysses had the longest and most perilous voyage home. It would be another 10 years of encounters with monsters, enchantresses, and foul weather before he reached his home on the small and rugged isle of Ithaca.

This is the story told by Homer, the blind poet of antiquity. A hundred years ago, the entire tale was considered a myth. Since then, archaeologists have unearthed the burned remains of Troy, and presently Homer's epic is taken much more seriously. Whether Homer's Ulysses was a real person is not known, but the recounting of his travels after leaving Troy does describe real places. Therefore, fictitious or not, Ulysses can be followed across the Mediterranean Sea.

Footsteps Then. From Troy, Ulysses with 12 ships sailed across the Aegean Sea, planning to travel around Greece to Ithaca. But at Cape Malea at the southern tip of the Greek peninsula, a gale blew his ships southeast into the open sea.

After nine days, Ulysses sighted land and sent three men ashore to explore. The scouts discovered that this was the land of the Lotus Eaters, who fed the three men lotus fruit, which made them forget about everything except eating more lotus. (Modern scholars think the lotus was a narcotic.) Ulysses retrieved his scouts and set sail before any more of his men could desert to the Lotus Eaters.

Ulysses' next landfall was in the land of the Cyclopes, a race of one-eyed giants, where he and 12 companions were trapped in the cave of a Cyclops named Polyphemus. The Cyclops proved himself a barbarian by eating--bones and all--six of Ulysses' men. To escape, Ulysses got the Cyclops intoxicated on wine, and, while he was in a drunken stupor, gouged out his one eye.

At his next stop, Ulysses again encountered cannibalism, in the land of the Lestrygonians, whose giant queen ate a number of his warriors. The hostile Lestrygonians threw boulders at Ulysses' ships, which were trapped in a small port, and sank 11 of them. Only Ulysses' own ship managed to flee to safety.

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