The Odyssey

the ody

summary for book 12

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Odysseus and his crew sail back to Circe's island, where they make a funeral pyre for Elpenor. Circe gives them a feast, and at night warns Odysseus of the dangers his ship will face tomorrow. The next day, the crew follows her instructions, plugging their ears so the song of the Sirens will not tempt them away from their course; Odysseus listens to it but has his men lash him to the mast. Next, the men must sail between Scylla, a six-headed sea monster that devours sailors, and the treacherous whirlpools of Charybdis. Odysseus does not tell them of the imminent death, as they would panic. Indeed, Scylla seizes and eats six men.

The crew passes by the dangers and reaches the island of Helios, the Sun. Odysseus passes on Tiresias' and Circe’s counsel not to eat the oxen or even land on the island. Tired and hungry, they want to sleep on the island, but Odysseus makes them promise not to touch the oxen. They moor, eat, and mourn their dead mates.

Winds prevent them from leaving for a month, and their store of food thins. While Odysseus prays to the gods in isolation one day, Eurylokhos incites the others to sacrifice the oxen. Odysseus returns and sees what has happened, and quickly Lord Helios asks Zeus to punish them. After the crew feasts for six days, they set sail. Zeus whips up a storm for punishment and shoots a thunderbolt at the ship, wrecking it. The men fall in the water, and Odysseus grabs on to floating pieces of the ship. He drifts back to Charybdis, from which he barely escapes. With protection from above, he squeaks by Scylla and drifts to Calypso’s island. Odysseus reminds his audience that he has already told them of this.

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