Long before embarking to lead his men into battle at Troy, Odysseus was born and groomed to be a traveler and adventurer. While still a nameless babe, his grandfather said, “let his name be Odysseus…the Son of Pain, a name he’ll earn in full” (Od. 19, 463-64). Fearless from a young age, Odysseus proved himself to posses the heart of a warrior while hunting boar on his grandfather’s island. The boar, with its “razor back bristling” and “eyes flashing fire” didn’t give Odysseus a moment of pause as the young hero fearlessly lunged his spear through the wild beast’s chest (Od. 19, 484-514). Some years later back in Ithica, Odysseus prepared himself for the life of an adventurer by making his island independent from himself. He married Penelope, a woman who was his equal in wit and leadership. Referred to as “wary and reserved” (Od. 1 378), “self possessed” (Od. 4, 124), and “wise” (Od. 19, 137), Penelope’s management of Ithica during her husband’s absence is obvious throughout the Odyssey. She maintained an orderly palace with a staff of fifty women (Od. 22, 446), orchestrated a behemoth food supply including fresh baked bread and daily the slaughter of pigs, cows, and goats (Od. 20), and was able to entertain and satiate over one hundred suitors for several years (Od. 1, 184-87). Finally, to firmly anchor his family in Ithica, Odysseus built his palace up around a sturdy olive tree. The crown of the palace was his bed; built atop the massive tree’s branches, it symbolized his unmovable union with Penelope even during his absence (Od. 23, 283-285).
Nearly a decade after the Trojan War began, Odysseus, Nestor, Menelaus, and several other generals loaded up their men and their plunder and set sail for their respective homelands. At that moment Odysseus had the perfect opportunity to sail home to Ithica with a pleasant wind at his back and calm tides ahead but he instead chose to extend his life of struggle and tribulation. With a lust for war that would remain with him throughout the rest of the Odyssey, Odysseus abruptly turned his ships around, preferring to remain on the battlefields of Troy instead (Od. 3, 180-82). When the exploits and spoils of Troy were exhausted, Odysseus and his crew embark on what would become a dazed decade of deathly expeditions. First he drifted to Ismarus where he and his crew “sacked the city” and “killed the men” (Od. 9, 45-49). After settling down and beginning a feast at the beach, the island inhabitants came back with a vengeance and forced Odysseus and his men off the island, killing many of his warriors (Od. 9, 45-84). This strange confusion swapping between lust for war and lust for indulgence followed Odysseus and his men to the land of the Lotus Eaters (Od. 9, 92-117), and the island of the Cyclops, where Odysseus’ poor judgment led to the deaths of five of his men (Od. 118-630). In a blatant attempt to remain away from Ithica, Odysseus took this procession of death and mayhem to Laestrygonian land where he lost every ship in his squadron except for his own (Od. 10, 88-145); then it was on to Aeaean island, home to the enchantress Circe (Od. 10, 146-630), then to the Kingdom of