Troy lost against the Greeks, but the Greeks in the process, had dishonored Athena and angered her. They took a prophetess, Cassandra, who was one of Priams daughters, from a sanctuary that had been Athena's. They brought her out and sacrificed her. Athena was upset and went to Poseidon for help. He agreed since Troy had already fallen, and when the Greeks set out, he unleashed a terrible storm. As the water was stirred ships were destroyed. Ajax died but for no other reason than his own arrogance. Odysseus and some crew members lived, but didn't reach home for ten years.
Over the ten years, they traveled to many places. When they left Troy and had their ships destroyed, Odysseus and the others landed on the land of the Lotuseaters but didn't stay long. Their travels took the next to the island of the Cyclops. Some died but had managed to hurt the Cyclops, Polyphemus, who was Poseidon's son, and in turn made Poseidon angry.
When they got away they next went to the country of the wind, and before long they left. But while there Odysseus had met Aeolus, god of the wind. Before they left he gave Odysseus a bag of winds and told him not to open them until they got back to Ithica. But Odysseus's crew didn't know what it was, and thinking it was riches or another, opened it and released the winds. Their ship was blown off course and they landed on the island of Aeaea, the realm of Circe. There Odysseus sent out spies who were turned into swine by Circe. But with some help from Hermes, Odysseus was able to go to Circe and free his men. He also was able to get her to tell him what he needed to do next to helo them get home. They had to travel to the Underworld. There they had to talk to Teirias. They did and he told them that they had to go to where the oxen of the sun lived. But while there they could not touch the oxen. But Odysseus's men did not heed the warning and destroyed the oxen while Odysseus was away. Because the oxen belonged to the sun god, he punished them. When they left, the ship was completely destroyed and only Odysseus survived. After days of drifting, he landed Calypso's islandand was there for years. Finally Zues sent Hermes to have Calypso release him and help Odysseus get away. He built a raft and was sent out ot sea. Because Athena and the rest of the gods had gone behind Poseidons back to help Odysseus, when Poseidon found him, he shook the waters and devoured the raft in the sea. Ino saw this and came to help Odysseus. She gave him a a cloak that would would let him drift in the water undetected. Odysseus was in the water for days when he finally washed up on the Phaeacian shores. There the kings daughter and her maids found him and took him to her father. The king told him to sleep there that night and the next day he told the king his story.
Back in Ithica, his house had overrun with men who wanted his wife, Penelope's, hand. But she and their son, Telemachus, still believed he was alive, so kept refusing the men. But the men were stubborn and believed Odysseus was dead and stayed anyways. When Odysseus got back to Ithica, with the help of the Phaeacian king, Athena met him but was in a disguise. Odysseus was skeptical of the the man that greeted him(Athena) and wove a tale of his adventures over the years. Athena caught him and called him clever. She helped him by turning him into a beggar man, and she told him to go to his house. He did as she said and went. When he got there he was not treated greatly, but was mocked and laughed at. Penelope heard about the visitor and came to the hall to see who it was. She had her a nurse wash his feet. But the nurse she had chosen was the one that had taken care of Odysseus as a child. He was afaid she would recognize a scar on his and know it was him. She did and just looked at him. He told her to keep quiet and she did. The next day Penelope held a contest finally giving up on Odysseus being alive. Odysseus told his son who he was and asked for his help. The contest his mother held consisted of each man being able to take a chance and trying to string her husband's bow. If they were able to, they had to shoot an arrow through 12 hoops. Telemachus was the first to try, but Odysseus gave him a sign and he gave up. The men tried and Odysseus went to talk to the swineherders, and showed them the scar on his foor to prove it was him and asked for their help. He asked a man named Eumaneus, to make sure he gets the bow and that all the womens chambers were locked so no one could get the hall. He went back and asked for a turn. They gave him the bow and he strung it. He got an arrow and straight through the hoops. He kept shooting the arrows. Each one shot took down another man. The men went for their weapons, but the swineherder had already taken them. Even after he ran out of arrows, men still went down. Athena had also started to help. When it came down to the last two men, a preacher and a music man, he did not kill the music man for music was sacred. The nurse had by now went to wake Penelope and tell her Odysseus was back. She did not believe the nurse. But the nurse persisted. So they both went to the hall and there Penelope saw Odysseus. They looked at each other and sat down. They communicated, but without touching or using words. Later they celebrated his return and rejoiced.
Cited: Mythology: Part 4, Chapter 3: The Adventures of Odysseus". 2000. April 17 2008.