AS TOLD BY ODYSSEUS
With one ship left, Odysseus and the Ithacans sailed to Aeaea, where the witch Circe fed his men, before turning them into pigs. Odysseus, forewarned of her magic by Hermes, had immunised himself using a herb called moly. Circe was surprised at this, and proposed a deal. She would return his men to human form, in exchange for Odysseus' love. He agreed, and the Ithacans stayed on Aeaea for a year.
Eventually, Circe instructed them to travel to the western edge of the world and make a sacrifice to the dead. Upon doing this, Odysseus met with a series of dead souls: a crew-member who had died in an accident, the incredibly interesting prophet Tiresias, his own mother, who told him about the suitors, and a host of heroes from the Trojan War, including the newly-murdered Agamemnon and a melancholy Achilles.
The Ithacans returned to Aeaea, where Circe warned them of the dangers they would face in their onward journey. First, they passed the Sirens, who would lure ships onto nearby rocks with their song. The Ithacans plugged their ears with wax, except for an ever-curious Odysseus, who ordered them to tie him to the mast so that he might hear the Sirens but be unable to act on the fatal enchantment that ensued. Next, they threaded the narrow strait between the six-headed monster Scylla and Charybdis, the whirlpool. Odysseus chose to sail closer to Scylla, and risk his crew, rather than risk his entire ship being swallowed by Charybdis. The decision saved his ship - for the time being - but it cost the lives of six more men.
The survivors made land, but they ignored prior advice from Tiresias: while Odysseus prayed, they grew hungry and killed cattle belonging to the sun god Helios. Helios begged Zeus to intervene. Zeus agreed, and as soon as the Ithacans sailed away, a colossal lightning bolt drove the ship straight into Charybdis. Odysseus escaped, by grabbing hold of a fig tree above the whirlpool's mouth.
With all of his ships now sunk, and the last of his men dead, Odysseus was alone, stranded on the island of Ogygia. Here he met the nymph Calypso, who held him captive, at once a husband and a prisoner, for seven years. Here ends Odysseus' account of his time at sea.
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