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The Odyssey is a bit of a confusing story. On the one hand, Odysseus’s primary motivation is to return to his wife and son. On the other other hand, he takes every opportunity to bang beautiful and powerful women. That’s like going to war all the while saying, “We’ve got to do this for PEACE!” and nobody has ever done that, right?

…right?

The funny bit is that every time Odysseus meets an available woman that isn’t immediately about to murder him, he ends up sleeping with them and there aren’t even that many! His wife, meanwhile, has hundreds of men all trying to win her hand in marriage and she manages to keep it in her peplos for twenty years! That is impressive. Everyone give it up for Penelope.

How the hell we have got this far in this comic without ever doing a comic directly about Odysseus or the Odyssey is beyond me. Please accept my humblest apologies.

For those unfamiliar with the work, the Odyssey is an ancient Greek epic that tells the harrowing tale of Odysseus, a hero of the Trojan War in events that follow the Illiad. After the war, our intrepid hero tries to return home but faces one disaster after the next, not unlike our good friend Sinbad the Sailor from The Arabian Nights. Unlike Sinbad, however, Odysseus does not get to return home in between these troubles, instead he is lost at sea and hopping from island to island and from disaster to disaster for 10 years after participating in the Trojan War for 10 years prior to that.

When you lay it all out like that, maybe the guy deserves a little break every now and again to enjoy some company…

There’s a great deal of entertaining and interesting events that happen in the Odyssey but what makes it a wonderful story even today, has a lot to do with the way the story is told and who the main character is. Though Odysseus is a strong and courageous fellow and a soldier to boot, his most important quality is his intellect. In the Illiad, Odysseus is credited with the creation of the Trojan Horse, a trap so cunning and devious, we still reference it today. While his strength helps him endure his fate, it is his mind that helps him overcome many of the dangers he faces.

Then we come to the storytelling itself. The Odyssey is told in a surprisingly modern way, beginning, as it were, in the middle of the tale and introducing the reader/listener to the hero’s son, rather than the hero himself. We are introduced to Telemachus and Penelope and the hordes of men seeking Penelope’s hand, both for her beauty and for the governance of the state Ithaca. It’s certainly an interesting way to start a tale, and it’s not until the fifth book that Odysseus even shows up. When he finally does make his appearance, he has already suffered many dangers and is being held captive by the beautiful and lustful nymph, Calypso. When he is finally set free, the wrathful Poseidon destroys the man’s ship. Luckily, Odysseus is saved by the Phraecians who welcome him and ask of his adventures, at which point he relates the events that lead up to his imprisonment by Calypso.

Relating the entire story here would be a little bit much, but suffice to say there’s a reason The Odyssey is and has been a classic for thousands of years and why it still remains relevant today.

If you’ve never read it, I highly recommend picking it up and spending some time with it, you won’t be disappointed.

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