XENA Gallery
Ulysses and Xena meet
Added Sunday 4 May 1997:

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Odysseus (in Latin dialect Ulixes) was brave and wise, a prudent counsellor and the cleverest of the Greeks -- "clever" meaning wily and crafty, which was not necessarily a compliment among the ancients. But although he is cunning and lies when it suits him, in the earliest legends his sometime underhandedness is the enterprising resourcefulness that helps him escape whatever gods, demigods, and sorceresses throw at him and his crew. There is reason enough to believe Odysseus was a real-life chieftain in Ithaca (modern-day Thiaki), although his hero cult never thrived there.

Although it is Ulysses' blinding of the cyclops Polyphemos, son of Poseidon, that initiates his woes, his men cause him all manner of trouble. (It's a good thing in the Xenaverse he's able to trade them in for Xena and Gabrielle. Well, for Xena, anyway.) They don't Just Say No in the land of the Lotophagoi, the Lotus Eaters, and join them in blissful stupor. When King Aeolus gives Ulysses the sack of the winds, holding all winds quiescent except the one which will speed the ship homeward, his curious crew open the sack while he is sleeping and blow the ship off course again. The men fall victim to sirens, are turned to pigs by the sorceress Circe, and eat Apollo's personal cattle before they are finally all lost at sea and Ulysses is left stranded on an island for a pleasant seven-year affair with the nymph Calypso.

Ulysses' hunting dog waited faithfully ten years for the return of his beloved master. Although Ulysses' disguise, provided for him by the goddess Athena, fooled everyone else, the hound recognised him at once and rushed to greet him on the road. But Ulysses could not yet reveal his identity; he had to push the dog aside. The dog perished at once of a broken heart. (Some interesting information on dogs in the ancient world can be found at Canis Venaticus' site.)

The poem Telegonia, now lost, completed the life story of Odysseus. While on his original voyage, he had consulted with the ghost of the blind poet and seer Tiresias, who promised him an easy death in old age "from the sea" if he could complete a quest to appease Poseidon: He must travel to a land where salt is unknown and an oar is mistaken for a winnowing-fan, and bring knowledge of Poseidon there by making a sacrifice to the god. The poem tells of the adventurer's travels on his quest and of his final, fatal encounter with Telegonus, his son with Circe.

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