Odysseus continued by Graham Patten

Odysseus: Art Project and Writing Assignment High School

Assignment:I had to write either a sequel or another episode of the odyssey in Homer’s, (or really Robert Fitzgerald’s) style, so I wrote another episode. I went further and put mine in iambic pentameter, as R Fitzgerald did in some of his translation. Graham Patten

And then the wise Odysseus continued:

“Two nights and twenty days we rode the sea,
until we saw at last far in the distance
that island of the gloomy wet and dark,
where, blinded by the gods, Terykhlodes
have made their dwelling. There they feast on men
just as did Skylla and Polyphemos.
But these were clever ones, the slimy creatures,
who use their wit and trickery to win,
of whom the empty headed, and the witty
have both been frequently the sorry victims.

We dropped the anchor, then out in our boat
we struggled through Poseidon’s raging torment
and fought our dreary way to land at shore.
Once landed, we made sacrifice — on ground
so slimy, such a pit of sludge that none
should ever have to wade — to wise Athena,
in fear that creatures deadly and demented
with tentacles, would pull us down to gloom
where we would all, so helpless, meet our doom.
But weary as we were from all our travel
we soon found places dry enough for comfort
and heavily we sank in pleasant slumber.

When dawn with rosy fingers lit the sky
I called upon my men to come together
and organize a group to search the isle.
The men complained of hunger for we had
long since run short of food to nourish them,
but then I saw a little ways inland
a place which dark had hid the night before,
beneath its powerful all-shrouding cloak.
This new place was a lovely wood,
that bore such fruits so perfect that would suit
the gods who shepherd us through every day.
This wood stood so alluring off some distance
across a rugged, messy stretch of land.

But as my skillful crew gazed to the wood
ten doves came to us gently floating down
but trailing them came ten more birds, but these
were hawks intent on killing those sweet doves.
But as the storm of wings stirred up the sky,
a most astounding scene drew up our eyes:
As hawks swooped after doves in fiery greed
the doves transformed to eagles and came round
to claw and tear, attacking, at the hawks.
When this strange deed was done and gone
I cried out to my men in dire warning:

‘These surely must be birds sent by the gods,
a sign to us, an omen most profound.
So go not to the tempting wood you see
for only pain and trouble must lie there.
Sit tight here by the shore and we will wait,
for there must be some other sustenance
that we have yet to find, because it is
the good Athena who has led us here.

But Hubrinoös among my men then called:

‘This man will starve us if he gets his way,
we must not perish under this proud fiend.
I say let us go down to yonder wood
and innocently feast upon the fruit
to which the gods have clearly guided us.
Let us not fear such silliness this fool
interprets and would have us then believe.’

Then Thriknoös, son of brave Alodinoös,
made answer to the haughty, foolish speech:

‘Well said, man; we will hasten there forthwith.
We all are hungry and will gladly follow
if you decide to cross the rough terrain.’

And so it was then, ignorant, they went.
No sense or reason could restrain them now,
and though I felt a raging fury then
at all those men who turned their backs on me,
I held on tight to my hot, fuming temper.

The hours passed without a single trace
of any of those headstrong ones who left
in greed, to fill their bellies foolishly
with unsafe food while in an unsafe place.
The grey-eyed goddess flew down and appeared,
but only seen by me; my other men
who stayed behind with me in patient wait
were blind to this appearance so divine.
Athena spoke to me:
son of Laertes, and the gods of old,
why do you stand so absent of your mind?
Have you not some concern for your few mates,
with whom you have a means to fare the sea —
as they all pull the fins of your great hull,
and who now suffer, trapped inside the woods?
Terykhlodes now feed upon those men,
a ruthless, savage frenzy of a feast.
Your apathy and lack of wit astound me,
for you so often are the clever one.’

To this I answered:
‘Well, what is the matter?
Will you not tell me what became of them,
my mates, my very family of men?’

Athena made reply:
‘Your men are trapped,
each snared in trees that tangle at the touch,
the making of the blind Terykhlodes.
Your men, in greed and blindness, took their fill
of luring magic fruits that cloud the head.
Their appetites were wetted, eyes were green;
temptation led them on to look for more.
No branches, bush, or brambles held them back
as deeper through the wood they made their course.
And as their course drew deeper, so the wood
became impossible, a net of trees.
Then as the men tried to go forth in vain
the magic of the fruit touched quietly
and giving up to sleepiness they fell
to slumber easily amongst the trees.
As soon as sleep came over all your men
the trap was sprung, and working like a charm.
Those branches clutching all around your men
began to grow and tangle, holding tight,
and held the victims, dishes served up for
the blind Terykhlodes to eat at ease.

You will make fools of these Terykhlodes
by setting them your own ingenious trap.
Now you must go with men, and gather turf
go gather from the fields behind the hill
that rests beside the Wood of Fruit and Bones.
When you have gathered turf enough to burn
and make such clouds of smoke to stupefy
the keenest and the strongest of all noses —
for in their blindness the Terykhlodes
have grown dependent on their sense of scent,
which is acute, as is their hearing, too —
I will come back and make your transformation.
I do believe that you will see my aim
when comes the time that you must play the game.’

With that the grey-eyed goddess lifted off
and flew most gracefully up to the sky.
and like a lark she lighted to the sky
I called upon four of my trusty men
and set off to the fields to gather turf.
When all the turf that we could hold we dug,
the goddess came to me once more to do,
as she had promised earlier she would,
my transformation — which I had explained
to all my men who came with me to dig
With just a single touch with her great wand
Athena had my skin all wrinkled, old,
and all my hair came falling from its roots.
For clothes she gave me rags, those of a beggar,
and so with that she made me my disguise.
She had just one more thing to say to me:

‘Just by the wood your men will find a flower
with petals like a hand that holds a flame,
the root of which, if eaten, may protect
against the choking throat-hold of the smoke.’

I understood that I must then depart
to find the foul and muddy dwelling of
the blind inhabitants upon the isle.
Once more the witty goddess then took flight
to disappear with grace amongst the clouds.
I then instructed those who stayed with me
to take the turf and burn it by the wood
but burn it so to make a cloud of smoke.
With nothing but my wrinkles and my rags
I set off towards the burrows of the beasts
in grimy pits of mud where only they
can live and thrive, the monsters that they are.
I came upon a place that seemed to hold
a number of those creatures whom I seeked.
I stood some distance, unsure of the danger,
and bravely then addressed the muddy pit.

‘I am not one for words and fancy speech,
for eloquence I cannot say is mine.
In humbleness I beg of you to listen,
please hear my warning, O Terykhlodes.’

Like old cadavers rising from their graves
the mess of tentacles began to writhe
to churn and break the filthy, gruesome mud.
Up rose the creatures from their deep abode,
and asked me who I was, what was my aim.

‘I am a helpless beggar, just shipwrecked,
but come not now to beg for my own self.
I come to you to give you warning that
your island here may yet become a cinder!
As I came groaning for my fellow men,
who all were lost when we crashed on the shore,
I spied a patch of smoke from yonder wood
that grew in beastly forms to chill the dead.
The smoke, I estimate, comes from some fire
that scars the farther side of that tall grove
of which, I know, you tenderly take care.
So if it is a thing that does concern you,
may I suggest to you to tear a break
that possibly may halt the raging roar
between the fire and your lovely wood,
before the flame makes crisp your very home.’

And with this simple ruse the beasts were caught,
for with their sense of smelling so acute
they quickly picked out from the stinking place
the saving smoke my men burnt from the turf.
A squirming hoard, Terykhlodes began
to creep their fearful way across the land,
unthankful for my help, the brutes squirmed off;
I followed, then, to watch my scene play out.

At once, when the Terykhlodes had reached
a deeper portion of their forest trap,
deceived still in our cloud of choking smoke,
they set to tearing out a line of trees —
uprooting all the arms that held my men,
that held them captive, ready to be gulped—
to make a fire break, though none was needed.
Athena came to me once more, and she
made me once more my self, Odysseus.
She ordered me to gather all those men
who were not eaten, and who now were freed,
and quickly then to take them all away
to get us free from this abyss of gloom.
So then with caution did I find my men,
and gathered those who tended to the smoke
and we made off to leave the dismal isle
before the senses of the ones we fooled
cleared of confounding smoke and sensed our guile.”

The great tactician paused in his great tale.

written and created by

Graham Patten