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Story Summary: Return From Troy, Episode 8

On this page we have split the telling of this episode into its three main sections and provided a summary of each.

Odysseus in the hall of King Alcinous

The cattle of the sun-god (4:26)

Odysseus recognises the island as that of Hyperion, the sun-god. In the land of the dead Tiresias had warned him not to stop at this island or to feast upon the cattle so he tells the crew to voyage on. Eurylochus speaks angrily on their behalf. He demands that they stop and rest. Odysseus agrees but they must promise not to harm any of the cattle. Storms prevent them from leaving. Supplies of food run out. Odysseus realises they are in a trap. He leaves the men in order to offer sacrifices. Waking from a deep sleep he finds that the storm has calmed. He is joyful until he rejoins his men: he finds them around a fire eating the carcasses of two of the cattle.

Hyperion’s revenge (4:00)

Odysseus sees the carcasses open their lipless mouths and moans. The meat is cursed! Odysseus is starving but does not join his men in eating. As they row away from the island Hyperion cries out for vengeance. Zeus sends a thunderbolt. The ship is dashed to pieces. The storm that follows is like no other. Between them Poseidon and Charybdis claim the lives of all of the men except Odysseus. He reaches out and clutches first a branch of a fig tree and then a piece of wood from the ship. He clings to this for many days and nights.

A mortal choice (3:58)

Odysseus is found on the shores of an island by the nymph Calypso. She falls in love with him and for seven years offers him eternal life in return for staying with her. Odysseus refuses. He wants only to live, grow old and die with his wife. Eventually, supported by Athene, he sails away on a raft, survives another of Poseidon’s storms and is washed up on the island where we now find him: the island of King Alcinous. King Alcinous promises to send a high-prowed ship to carry him home to Ithaca.

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