Friday, April 24, 2015

U is for Ulysses

Many of the stories you still see today are inspired directly and indirectly from various myths. For the 2015 A-Z Challenge, I'm going to share mythology from all over the world - myths that are familiar and obscure.

Ulysses is the Latin name for Odysseus, the Greek hero in Homer's epic poem, The Odyssey. Virgil took Homer's story and tried to "improve" it for the Roman people. So for our purposes, Odysseus and Ulysses really are the same dude.

And so it fits with the letter U for my A-Z Challenge, we'll stick with Ulysses.

During the ten year Trojan War, it was Ulysses (King of Ithica) who came up with the idea of building the giant wooden horse in order to sneak into the walled city and defeat the enemy. After their victory, Ulysses failed to pay proper homage to the gods and he and his men paid dearly for his
ego.

Ulysses and his men encountered all kinds of problems in trying to get home: malnourishment, sirens trying to lure them to their deaths, goddesses using their sexiness to seduce them, sea monsters trying to drown them, and a cyclops who wants to eat them.

Eventually, only Ulysses escape these dangers with his life, and he was found clinging to life on a beach. The foreign king nursed him back to health, and after hearing of Ulysses tales of the ten year war with Troy and the harrowing ten year journey afterwards, he provided Ulysses with his fastest ship to take him back to Ithica.

Get outta my house!
But it had been 20 years since he'd been home, and Ulysses didn't know who was loyal to him or not. So the goddess Minerva (Greek = Athena), gives him a magical disguise as a beggar so he can scope out his kingdom and find out who his friends are. He finds his son, who is now 20 years old, and together, they wipe out all the suitors who've been turning his palace into a dump and waiting for Ulysses' wife (Penelope) to choose her next king.

The story of Ulysses is one of the biggest influences of my writing, and for those who have read my Asian-inspired steampunk series, The Mechanica Wars, you will for sure see many elements from this epic poem in my novels.

25 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Twenty years was a long time to be gone. His first time seeing his son was as a man.

cleemckenzie said...

No matter how many times I hear or read about this story, I still love the qualities of the people. Patient Penelope and determined Ulysses.

jaybird said...

My 11 year old daughter picked this up and started reading the Odyssey recently and I was baffled that this is what she decided on coming home with, out of everything they offer in the YA section of the library. But then again, my kids are not the norm. They take after their momma. Ha.

Cherie Reich said...

I've always had a soft spot for Ulysses/Odysseus.

Mark Noce said...

Nice. Still one of my top favorite stories:)

Pat Hatt said...

One of the best stories indeed. Good way to root out the spies and rift raft too

Haneen I. Adam said...

It's a good thing you found inspiration in this story, from what I read here though I sure don't like this dude.

Pat Dilloway said...

Those gods really are jerks

Nick Wilford said...

I need to read this! Definitely a timeless story.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

It is a great tale and such an adventure. It gives the name to epic.

Tony Laplume said...

Being a traditionalist, I always had a problem calling Odysseus something other than Odysseus. But then, I like "Hercules" better than "Heracles."

J Lenni Dorner said...

Stopping by from the #atozchallenge 2015! Thanks for visiting me.
Great post. Very interesting and well researched.Congratulations on making it past the first half of the challenge.
J @JLenniDorner

Stephen Tremp said...

Even the Simpsons had a spoof on this story called Homer's Odyssey.

Lexa Cain said...

The Trojan Horse is one of the mythical stories/ideas that I think is really applicable to today's world. It kinda goes along with the idea of being wary of gifts from your enemies or allowing questionable people into your home. There've been some great movies based on those ideas, right? Have a wonderful weekend!

Jo said...

I have always loved the stories of Odysseus - sorry for his crew and people though. 20 years is a long time to be away from your kingdom.

Robin said...

I read this in college. It was an epic adventure. This reminds me I really should read it again. I've forgotten many of the details.

DEZMOND said...

If you like Odysseus I strongly recommend reading Glynn Illife's KING OF ITHACA and GATES OF TROY trilogy. I've translated the first one many years ago and have been friends with him on Facebook. He has the most amazing talent for writing historical novels. It's almost like watching a film. I do love him so.

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