GIANT CANNIBALS
Love, lies, mythology and murder on the seas of ancient Greece.
THE SOURCE, PART V   by Mike Warren

After ten years at sea, Odysseus returns to Ithaca.

PART V

Odysseus' anecdote has worked. The Phaeacians are hanging from his every word. Their king promises that he will return home safely, and demands that everyone present pay tribute to their guest. A ship is prepared, prayers and sacrifices are made, and Odysseus finally leaves for Ithaca.

He is fast asleep by the time he arrives, and so exhausted that he does not wake up, even as the Phaeacians off-load him and their gifts onto his home soil for the first time in twenty years. They sail back silently and leave him in a cave to awake on his own.

Meanwhile, Poseidon is furious. The Phaeacians are a civilisation of master mariners, founded on their skill at sea. They owe him respect, but instead, they've given his accursed enemy - the man who mutilated his son - safe passage across the water. Not only that; they've also given Odysseus more treasure than he could have hoped to bring home from Troy.

Poseidon begs Zeus for permission to have his revenge. Zeus accedes, and as the Phaeacian escort returns home, the entire ship is turned to stone in the harbour. Everyone on board drowns, and the King, watching from land, is perceptive enough to spot the divine intervention. The Phaeacians sacrifice twelve bulls to Poseidon, in the hope that he will relent.

Odysseus wakes up, alone. He doesn't know where he is, and assumes that the Phaeacians have marooned him far from home. Despite counting their gifts and seeing nothing stolen, he cannot bring himself to believe that he is safely back on Ithaca, and is only convinced when Athena, disguised as a shepherd, finds him on the beach and tells him outright.

Odysseus, being Odysseus, feeds the young shepherd a pack of lies, claiming to be a fugitive murderer. Athena is not impressed, revealing her true form and telling him to drop the act as he's home.

Upon hearing his first good reason to be honest in a long time, Odysseus is promptly told to resume shenanigans. His family is in danger. He must suffer all insults, and tell no-one who he is. Odysseus sulks, and tells Athena that she never really helped him after Troy.

Athena pointedly mentions that her uncle never quite forgave him for blinding her cousin. However, she finally convinces him of where he is, helps him to hide his Phaeacian gifts, and disguises him as a beggar. As they part, she promises to help him kill the suitors.

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RE-INTERPRETED, PART I   by Dylan Spicer

Across a series of articles, Dylan charts other efforts to re-write Homer's great epic. This week, he looks at two kinds of Ulysses.

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