Ancient Geography & Travels of Ulysses Part 2

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.



Having lost most of his men, Ulysses came to what appeared to be a friendly land. But Circe, the local goddess, was annoyed by Ulysses' invasion of her privacy and turned his men into pigs. Asking the gods for aid, Ulysses had his men transformed back into humans. Making peace with Circe, Ulysses charmed her into bed, where the couple spent the next half-year. Finally Ulysses became restless and decided it was time to try to return home to Ithaca and his wife. Circe informed him that he had to go to Hades--the Greek hell--before the gods would allow him to reach home.

Undaunted, Ulysses set sail for Hades, traveling past the Pillars of Hercules to the edge of the world. There he entered Hades. After a short stay, Ulysses was told that he and his men must not kill any of the Sun God's sheep; then he was allowed to leave.

Ulysses returned to Circe for a last, short affair. Then he sailed to the Sun God's island and landed with his remaining comrades. His starving men promptly butchered and ate the god's sheep, breaking the commandment given Ulysses in Hades. Soon after the Greeks left the island, the vengeful Sun God sank Ulysses' ship. Everyone perished except Ulysses, who floated for 10 days before being washed ashore on an island inhabited by the enchantress Calypso.

Living alone on her paradise island, Calypso was happy to find Ulysses on her beach and eagerly seduced him. She was so infatuated with the Greek adventurer that she held him captive for seven years. During this time, he grew increasingly depressed and homesick. He still slept with his "ardent nymph," but she was "no longer pleasing in his eyes." Sympathetically noticing Ulysses' plight, the gods forced Calypso to give up her unwilling lover, and Ulysses was allowed to build a raft to continue his journey.

After a few more trials and tribulations, Ulysses succeeded in reaching the shores of Ithaca. After a 20-year absence, he found his faithful wife, Penelope, fighting off a houseful of amorous suitors, whom Ulysses eventually massacred. He and Penelope then settled down and lived happily into old age.

Footsteps Now. Today, Troy is a mound of earth near the shores of the Dardanelles 175 mi. southeast of Istanbul in Turkey. On the small hill which was Troy, Turkish, American, and German archaeologists putter about, as tourists gawk at this epic symbol of defense which has been reduced to ashes, dirt, and fragmentary remains.

Leaving Troy and following Ulysses through the Aegean, we discover that little has changed. The numerous islands have little vegetation, but the people still tend their flocks of goats and sheep and go fishing as they did in Ulysses' time. However, now most of the fishing boats have motors instead of oars. Cape Malea remains the stark promontory that Ulysses saw before being driven out to sea by the storm.

More than 800 mi. to the south and east is the Tunisian island of Djerba, which is traditionally known as the land of the Lotus Eaters. Presently, Djerba is being transformed into a vacation have for European and American tourists. Plush resort hotels line the coast, and swimmers and sunbathers populate the beaches where Ulysses' Greeks came ashore.

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