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The Wine Red Sea:  Journeys of Odysseus
© Copyright 2014 - 2018 by Peter J Ponzio

Background Information

The Myths Leading up to the Iliad and the Odyssey Thetis was a minor sea goddess who was courted by several of the male Olympian gods because of her great beauty.  There was a prophecy that her son would be greater than his father, so Zeus arranged to have her married to a mortal man, Peleus.  Many of the gods and goddesses were invited to the marriage ceremony, but Eris (strife, discord) was not invited.  Eris, being displeased, had a golden apple made with the inscription “to the fairest” placed on the apple.  Eris threw this apple among the three goddesses Hera, Aphrodite and Athena, each of whom claimed the apple as hers.  Since the winner of the apple could not be determined, the goddesses asked Zeus to judge.  He, knowing that he could not choose a winner without upsetting two of the goddesses, declined to judge the contest, but suggested that Paris, son of Priam, ruler of Troy, should judge.  Paris was approached by the goddesses to judge the contest.  Each goddess promised gifts to Paris, should he choose her.  Hera promised to make Paris king of the earth; Aphrodite promised to make Paris wise and victorious in war; Aphrodite offered to give Paris the most beautiful woman alive, who was Helen, wife of Menelaus.  Paris chose Aphrodite as the fairest of the goddesses. Helen, the most beautiful woman alive, was the daughter of Zeus and Leda.  Because of her great beauty, she was courted by many men.  Menelaus of Sparta was eventually chosen as Helen’s husband, but because of her great beauty, there was a concern that she would be abducted by one of the suitors who did not win her hand.  Odysseus suggested that all the suitors take an oath to unite in defending Helen’s honor, should she be abducted.  The suitors agreed, and the oaths were taken. Later, Paris and Hector journeyed to Sparta to meet with Menelaus and forge a partnership.  While in Sparta, Paris abducted Helen, without the knowledge of Hector, and brought her to Troy.  When Menelaus found that his wife was missing, he called upon the original suitors to fulfill their bargain, and declare war against Troy.  The various suitors were called to fulfill their promise, among them the most famous men at the time including the two Ajaxes, Odysseus, Achilles, Nestor, and Diomedes. Odysseus is at first reluctant to travel to Troy, and feigns that he has lost his mind, but then reluctantly agrees to go, once his trick is discovered.  Achilles, at the advice of his mother, hid on the island of Scyros, disguised as a girl.  Odysseus brought dresses and swords to the island, and placed them side by side in the group of girls.  All the girls went for the dresses, while Achilles went for the swords.  Thetis tells Achilles that he can stay home and live to a long age, or go to war, die young and be glorious.  Achilles agrees to go to war. Agamemnon, brother to Menelaus, was appointed captain of the various Greek armies.  Prior to going to war, Agamemnon’s ships are stalled at sea for an affront to the goddess Artemis.  The goddess demanded the sacrifice of Agamemnon’s daughter, Iphigenia, in order to allow the ships to sail.  Agamemnon, wishing to sail, sacrifices his daughter, over the objections of his wife, Clytemnestra. At the beginning of the Iliad, the war has been going on for 9-1/2 years. The judgment of Paris