Immortal Interference Homer's epic poem The Odyssey follows the journey of the hero Odysseus as he returns from the Trojan War. Odysseus sees many places before he finally arrives at his home island of Ithica, with several immortals interrupting his natural course. Unfortunately for Odysseus, the immortals KirkÃÂÃÂª, Kalypso, and Poseidon frustrate his ultimate homecoming.
One goddesses who delays Odysseus's trip home is KirkÃÂÃÂª, a sorceress who uses both physical and psychological magic to keep Odysseus and his men captivated for a year. Three days after landing on KirkÃÂÃÂª's island, Odysseus sends two platoons to explore KirkÃÂÃÂª's hall. When the men get inside, they are amazed by KirkÃÂÃÂª's hospitality.
"On thrones she seated them, and lounging chairs while she prepared a meal of cheese and barley and amber honey mixed with Pramnian wine.
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Scarce had they drunk when she flew after them With her long stick and shut them in a pigsty. (172) Hearing of KirkÃÂÃÂª's spell, Odysseus reacts by threatening KirkÃÂÃÂª's life and commanding that she return his men to their human form. She obliges, but once she has Odysseus in her house, she lures him into staying with her. For a year, she holds Odysseus and his men captive, until finally, Odysseus's men convince him to leave. But once again, KirkÃÂÃÂª puts another obstacle in the way of Odysseus's eventual homecoming. "'"Ã¯Â¿Â½[Y]ou shall stay here no longer against your will; / but home you may not go / unless you take a strange way round and come / to the cold homes of Death and pale PersÃÂÃÂ©phonÃÂÃÂª"Ã¯Â¿Â½'"Ã¯Â¿Â½ (180). So now, Odysseus must travel all the way to the Underworld before he can go home.
While KirkÃÂÃÂª keeps Odysseus captivated for a year, Kalypso tempts him for seven. She loves Odysseus and wants him to marry her, but no matter how much power she has, he has to consent. For seven years, she tries to seduce him, giving him immortal clothing, delicious foods, comfortable lodging, and offering him her loving. She tests his will to the breaking point and beyond, but through it all, Odysseus never gives up hope and remains faithful to his wife, PenÃÂÃÂ©lopÃÂÃÂª. "'The enchantress in her beauty / fed and caressed me . . . / . . . / but in my heart I never gave consent / though seven years detained'"Ã¯Â¿Â½ (118). She even offers him immortality and ageless youth, but by now, Odysseus has realized that being immortal is less than being human. On the eighth year, Zeus sends HermÃÂÃÂªs to tell Kalypso to let Odysseus go. When he arrives, he does not see Odysseus, "who sat apart, as a thousand times before, / and racked his own heart groaning, with eyes wet / scanning the bare horizon of the sea"Ã¯Â¿Â½ (83). Even now, she does not want to release Odysseus, even though all-powerful Zeus has commanded her to. She tells HermÃÂÃÂªs "'[i]f this thing be ordained by him, I say / so be it, let the man strike out alone / on the vast water'"Ã¯Â¿Â½ (85); but eventually and reluctantly, she helps Odysseus leave after seven long years of his waiting and resisting the goddess's love.
While KirkÃÂÃÂª and Kalypso merely delayed Odysseus's eventual homecoming, Poseidon makes sure his voyage home is as long and painful as possible. Odysseus does nothing to anger the god himself, but rather Odysseus's passage home is damned because of a prayer from the sea god's one-eyed son, PolyphÃÂÃÂªmos.
"'[G]rant that Odysseus, raiders of cities, never see his home: LaÃÂÃÂ«rtÃÂÃÂªs' son, I mean, who kept his halls on Ithica. Should destiny intend that he shall not see his roof again among his family in his father land, far be that day, and dark the years between. (161) Without even questioning his son's reasons, Poseidon takes out a personal vendetta against Odysseus, who has not done anything to the immortal god. Poseidon makes sure the seas are stormy and turbulent for Odysseus's entire trip. When Odysseus is sailing home from OgÃÂÃÂ½gia, the island of Kalypso, the sea god states his disposition: "Here is a pretty cruise! While I was gone the god shave changed their mind about Odysseus.
Look at him now, just offshore of that island that frees him from the bondage of exile! Still I can give him a rough ride in, and will."Ã¯Â¿Â½ (89) Odysseus is saved from Poseidon's wrath, however, by Leukothea, who tells him that no matter how much suffering Poseidon might inflict, he will not kill him (Odysseus). Finally, after Odysseus reaches home and slays the suitors, he makes his sacrifice to Poseidon at the place where the people do not know the sea, a final show of humility to the detrimental god.
Unfortunately for Odysseus, these three immortals hindered his passage home for almost ten years. In addition, they all did it for their own personal gain or pleasure: KirkÃÂÃÂª held him for a year and sent him to the Underworld; Kalypso kept him detained on her island for seven years; and Poseidon did everything within his power to Odysseus but kill him. The gods are supposed to be the uncorrupt, fair overseers of the world, not the narrow-minded, self-serving beings depicted by Homer.