The Odyssey Books 7-9 Summary

     In book seven Odysseus is welcomed by King Alcinous into his palace and is asked to tell the story of how he arrived on the island of the Phaecians. Odysseus explains that he is the son of Laertes, King of Ithaca, who is attempting to travel home after battling in the Trojan War. First, he was stopped by Calypso who fell in love with him and held him captive for seven years. When she finally released him, he traveled for many days on a raft while enduring treacherous conditions due to Poseidon's ill feelings toward him before arriving here and being assisted by Alcinous's daughter.

     In book eight after a night's sleep, they had the entertainers tell Odysseus stories, which made him cry. Then the King asked Odysseus to play some games of skill, which Odysseus did not really want to do, but finally he took a discus and threw it farther than anyone else could. Later some dancers entertained Odysseus. Nausicaa, Alcinous's daughter wished Odysseus well and asked that he not forget about her.

     In book nine Odysseus decides to fully describe all the woes he has endured on his journey. A bad wind pushed him to the settlement of the Cicones where initially Odysseus's men fought them off, but then they became drunk and stopped listening to Odysseus. He lost many men before they fled back to the ships to continue on their way. Then he landed at the home of the Lotus Eaters. These men did not fight Odysseus, but instead gave them the lotus fruit to eat, which made his men forget about home and no longer desire to leave. Odysseus had to forcibly return his men to the ships to embark once more.

     Next they came close to the land where the Cyclops all live, one-eyed giants. Odysseus decided to take twelve men with him to get a closer look. One Cyclops noticed the men in his cave and asked who they were. Odysseus says his name is Nohbdy and speaks poorly of Poseidon who had complicated his journey, which angers Polyphemus, the Cyclops, whose father is Poseidon. Odysseus creates a plan in order for him and his men to escape the cave. He offers Polyphemus a lot of wine, which gets him drunk. Then Odysseus takes a large pike, chars it in the fire, and pokes it into the Cyclops's eye. This blinds Polyphemus who screams and staggers around. Polyphemus cries out to neighboring Cyclops for help, saying that Nohbdy hurt him. The nearby Cyclops are confused as to why Polyphemus would be screaming if nobody has hurt him, misunderstanding the name. Polyphemus decides to sleep in the doorway to the cave in order to keep the mean from escaping, so Odysseus ties each man to the underside of one of the giant sheep that the giant keeps with him in the cave. Then in the morning when Polyphemus lets the sheep out to pasture, the men escape with them. They return to the ship, and Odysseus chooses to scream back to Polyphemus one last time, so that the giant knows who actually blinded him. When Polyphemus hears Odysseus calling out his name, he breaks off a hilltop and throws it in the direction of the voice. A tidal wave nearly topples the boat as the men scream at Odysseus to stay quiet so that they can safely escape.

     The journey of the epic hero finally begins in these books. Through Odysseus's tales readers see that he has flaws. For example, he showed his curiosity when he wanted to get a closer look at the Cyclops and cockiness when he felt compelled to yell back to the Cyclops to reveal his true identity. This decision endangered his men's lives. Though he may have superior strength, as evidenced by his throwing the discus, he is not perfect and sometimes makes bad choices.

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