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ODYSSEY SUMMARY

Ten years after the fall of Troy, the victorious Greek hero Odysseus has still not returned to his native Ithaka. A
band of rowdy suitors, believing Odysseus to be dead, has overrun his palace, courting his faithful though
weakening wife, Penelope, and going through his stock of food. With permission from Zeus, the goddess
Athena, Odysseus' greatest immortal ally, appears in disguise and urges Odysseus' son Telemakhos to seek news
of his father at Pylos and Sparta. However, the suitors, led by Antinoos, plan to ambush him upon his return.
As Telemakhos tracks Odysseus' trail through stories from his old comrades-in-arms, Athena arranges for the
release of Odysseus from the island of the beautiful goddess Kalypso, whose prisoner and lover he has been for
the last eight years. Odysseus sets sail on a makeshift raft, but the sea god Poseidon, whose wrath Odysseus
incurred earlier in his adventures by blinding Poseidon's son, the Kyklops Polyphemos, conjures up a storm.
With Athena's help, Odysseus reaches the Phaiakians. Their princess, Nausikaa, who has a crush on the
handsome warrior, opens the palace to the stranger. Odysseus withholds his identity for as long as he can until
finally, at the Phaiakians' request, he tells the story of his adventures.
Odysseus relates how, following the Trojan War, his men suffered more losses at the hands of the Kikones, then
were nearly tempted to stay on the island of the drug-addled Lotos Eaters. Next, the Kyklops Polyphemos
devoured many of Odysseus' men before an ingenious plan of Odysseus' allowed the rest to escape but not
before Odysseus revealed his name to Polyphemos and thus started his personal war with Poseidon. The wind
god Ailos then provided Odysseus with a bag of winds to aid his return home, but the crew greedily opened the
bag and sent the ship to the land of the giant, man-eating Laistrygonians, where they again barely escaped.
On their next stop, the goddess Kirke tricked Odysseus' men and turned them into pigs. With the help of the god
Hermes, Odysseus defied her spell and metamorphosed the pigs back into men. They stayed on her island for a
year in the lap of luxury, with Odysseus as her lover, before moving on and resisting the temptations of the
seductive and dangerous Seirenes, navigating between the sea monster Skylla and the whirlpools of Kharybdis,
and plumbing the depths of Hades to receive a prophecy from the blind seer Teiresias. Resting on the island of
Helios, Odysseus' men disobeyed his orders not to touch the oxen. At sea, Zeus punished them and all but
Odysseus died in a storm. It was then that Odysseus reached Kalypso's island.
Odysseus finishes his story, and the Phaiakians hospitably give him gifts and ferry him home on a ship. Athena
disguises Odysseus as a beggar and instructs him to seek out his old swineherd, Eumaios; she will recall
Telemakhos from his own travels. With Athena's help, Telemakhos avoids the suitors' ambush and reunites with
his father, who reveals his identity only to his son and swineherd. He devises a plan to overthrow the suitors
with their help.
In disguise as a beggar, Odysseus investigates his palace. The suitors and a few of his old servants generally
treat him rudely as Odysseus sizes up the loyalty of Penelope and his other servants. Penelope, who notes the
resemblance between the beggar and her presumably dead husband, proposes a contest: she will, at last, marry
the suitor who can string Odysseus' great bow and shoot an arrow through a dozen axeheads.
Only Odysseus can pull off the feat. Bow in hand, he shoots and kills the suitor Antinoos and reveals his
identity. With Telemakhos, Eumaios, and his goatherd Philoitios at his side, Odysseus leads the massacre of the
suitors, aided only at the end by Athena. Odysseus lovingly reunites with Penelope, his knowledge of their bed
that he built the proof that overcomes her skepticism that he is an impostor. Outside of town, Odysseus visits his
ailing father, Laertes, but an army of the suitors' relatives quickly finds them. With the encouragement of a
disguised Athena, Laertes strikes down the ringleader, Antinoos' father. Before the battle can progress any
further, Athena, on command from Zeus, orders peace between the two sides.

ACHILLES
And His Vulnerable Heel

Achilles was a powerful hero in Homer's Iliad, and undoubtedly the greatest warrior on the battlefield
at Troy. In his youth, he had been a pupil of Chiron.
When Achilles was just an infant, his mother immersed him in the river Styx, which separates the
land of the living from the land of the dead, to confer on him immortality, and to make him invincible
in battle. But when doing this, she committed a grave error. Through her oversight and negligence, she
held Achilles by his left heel when immersing him in the river Styx, and forgot to immerse his heel as
well.
And so, in spite of his great power and strength, and unsurpassed skill and prowess in battle,
Achilles remained with one weak or vulnerable spot, his left heel, which was ultimately to prove fatal.
In the final battle of the Trojan War, as Troy was being sacked and burned by marauding Greek
soldiers, Achilles was shot in his left heel with a poisoned arrow, which finally killed him.
We all have our weak or vulnerable areas, our Achilles' heels. Even someone who may outwardly
appear to be all-powerful, or even invincible, isn't without a weak spot, or Achilles' heel. We may seem
to be impervious to all harm until an injury, microbe or other pathogenic factor comes along that has
the ability to specifically target or exploit our weak spot, or Achilles' heel.
As the myth of Achilles so aptly symbolizes, our vulnerable areas, or Achilles' heels, are usually
either genetic, or handed down from our parents; or the result of some prior denial, neglect, or other
unconscious behavior; or both. It would greatly benefit all of us to take a long, hard look at our
vulnerable areas and consider carefully what we can do to ameliorate, remedy or eradicate them. But
all too often, it's much easier to take the path of least resistance and fail to do anything significant or
decisive, thereby allowing the vulnerable area to fester and grow.
The morbid humors, toxins and microbes that cause chronic and degenerative diseases are basically
opportunistic in nature; their inherent tendency is to seek out or gravitate towards the weak spots or
vulnerable areas of the organism, where they focus their attacks and become entrenched. This is
another important reason why we should make every effort to strengthen, vitalize and shore up our
weak spots, or areas of vulnerability.