Odysseus: The Postcards


On a recent expe­di­tion to the ancient city of Myce­nae, world renowned archae­ol­o­gist Dr. Jean Pal­jeanette III uncov­ered the post­cards* the Greek hero Odysseus sent to his belea­guered wife Pene­lope while mak­ing the ten year jour­ney back to their fam­i­ly home in Itha­ca from the Tro­jan War, not all that far away. (These post­cards were most like­ly deliv­ered by a wise-crack­ing seag­ull.) Minu­tiæ is proud to present this last chap­ter in the saga made famous by Homer, the world’s blind­est suc­cess­ful poet.

*Please keep in mind some words were dif­fi­cult to read or do not have mod­ern trans­la­tions, and sub­sti­tu­tions are pro­vid­ed in brackets.


My Dear­est Penelope, 

Great news! Those [sil­ly] Tro­jans fell for my old [stick-the-entire-army-in-a-giant-wood­en-horse trick] and the war is over, at last! I set out sev­er­al weeks ago, 12 ships car­ry­ing all the trea­sures that so recent­ly belonged to the peo­ple of Troy. [But here’s the bad news]. We were attacked by pirates off the coast of Ismaros; we fought hard, kept the [minia­ture] war going as long as we could, but in the end lost quite a bit of our trea­sure and more than a few of our men. Upset by the over­ly vicious attacks, we failed to see the oncom­ing hur­ri­cane. Yes, yes… I know I’m an expert on the high seas, but I was dis­tract­ed, [you know], and tor­tur­ing the one pirate I did man­age to cap­ture, you would­n’t believe how fun they are to tor­ture, those pirates and the storm threw us off course. I’m sure we will find our way again soon, how­ev­er; and I will be in your arms again, bestow­ing on you what jew­els and fin­ery the pirates did not take.

I hope you and my dear son, Telemachus, are well. I think of you daily.

With all the love of the gods,
Your Odysseus


Dear Pene­lope,

The Land of the Lotus-Eaters may not [sound] to you the best place for a [pit-stop], but trust me it is quite a hos­pitable land to rest in when you have been rat­tled by some [dev­il­ish Long John Sil­vers]. Well, it is hos­pitable oth­er than the dread­ed cyclops, Polyphe­mus. He has quite a tem­per, actu­al­ly, and for some time had cap­tured me and my men—thus the rea­son for our fur­ther delay. We had to bat­tle Polyphe­mus, blind him with a wood­en stake, escape once again, [et cetera, et cetera]. It was [jol­ly good] fun, oth­er than the wood­en stake giv­ing me a [nasty splin­ter], which took me sev­er­al weeks to remove. 

I am sure we will be home in [just a jiff] now. I look for­ward dai­ly to see­ing your­self and our beloved son, Tele, with­in the month.

Love in Athena,


Dear Pen­ny,

Do not be fooled by the front of this post­card! Aeo­lus’s home­land is not the beau­ti­ful par­adise it is made out to be. True, he did take us in when that wretched Polyphe­mus caused us to be caught up in yet anoth­er storm—but how was I to know that his father was Posei­don? And it’s true that Aeo­lus did bestow upon me three of this world’s winds—but he would not be per­suad­ed to give me the west wind, the wind that would have got­ten us all home by [din­ner] time tomor­row. It is also true that he warned me to be most care­ful with the winds as we set out (the first time) from his home. But how was I to know that my [idiot] crew might let out all the winds when I was napping?

I awoke from my [after­noon nap] yes­ter­day just in time to see Itha­ca, and our shin­ing home up on the hill, and just in time to catch the [Nean­derthals] let­ting the winds go wild, kick­ing up a typhoon or two and send­ing our ships off course for the [umpteenth] time. If truth be told, I am com­ing to enjoy bat­tling these storms Posei­don keeps send­ing my way; he is a much bet­ter foe than those [half-wit­ted] Tro­jans. It has been said that a man could not ever defeat a god, should not even attempt it, but some­times, in the dead of night, I think it might be pos­si­ble, giv­en a bit more time. Alas, I must return to you…

We are back with Aeo­lus again, and, again, he [grumpi­ly] refus­es to help us out. So we will set out once more, with­out the help of any winds in my [ruck­sack], tomor­row. I am sure to be home with­in the month, bar­ring any more dis­as­ters or bat­tles I must fight.

My love to Tele,


My Pen­ny,

Sor­ry it has been so long. We had this issue with the Laestry­go­ni­ans recent­ly: the Laestry­go­ni­ans are giants, indeed, and can­ni­bals at that. Bat­tle them we did [of course], but they ate most of my men when we arrived here last month- and what they did not eat, they destroyed by rock­et­ing boul­ders off of the tall cliffs of Telepy­lus. Of 12 ships, I have one left and very few men. Per­haps that will make it eas­i­er to not be fur­ther way­laid by the adven­ture’s storms that seem deter­mined to keep us from join­ing you, and our son, in Ithaca. 




I know it’s been a while… I got tied up with this woman—a witch god­dess, really—Circe is her name. But it’s not what you’re think­ing! Hon­est­ly, the year just flew by! I guess [time flies] when you’re wor­ry­ing over a witch god­dess intox­i­cat­ing you with drugs and alco­hols, turn­ing your men into swine, and gen­er­al­ly enslav­ing you with love. Yes, love. Truth be told, Circe has some­thing of a [crush] on me—and you know what a [flirt] I am. I nev­er could resist a woman throw­ing her­self at me. And after she returned my men to their human form, we all felt we need­ed a break from all the dra­ma (the pirates, the storms, the giants, the can­ni­bals, the Cyclops—in case you need a [refresh­er]) and the food and wine at Circe’s are so good. The beds are quite com­fort­able, as well. Of course, I remem­ber that the food and wine—and beds!—are good at home in Itha­ca as well. So, well-rest­ed, fed and hap­py, we are on our way again once more. The men are quite a bit more cheer­ful, giv­en all the will­ing women on Aeaea, so you can expect me [soon­ish].

Hel­lo to the kid.


So Pen­ny,

I’m at the ends of the Earth today ([long sto­ry, I haven’t time to explain]), and who did I see? Why, the ghost of my dead moth­er! First of all, I would have liked to have known that my moth­er had passed. And, sec­ond­ly, would you believe what she told me? You have been keep­ing suit­ors at home! Hun­dreds of them! Between the war and my return jour­ney, I’ve been gone lit­tle over 12 years—13 at most!—And you have suit­ors at home? What our son must think!

I’m going to see what Circe has to say about this.


Dear Pene­lope,

I admit I was a lit­tle harsh and a bit rash last time I wrote… but it has been eight years now, and I have had more than enough time for [intro­spec­tion]. It’s been a tough jour­ney of late, though with my dear Circe’s help, I was able to nav­i­gate past the Sirens, past the six-head­ed mon­ster Schyl­la, past the evil whirlpool, Charyb­dis. And I passed them all with­out stop­ping for a fight! I hope [you know] how hard that was for me.

All was look­ing good until what few men I had left went and mur­dered Helios’s sacred cows, though I had warned them not to. Helios was angered—of course; [you know] how irra­tional the gods can be. Same old sto­ry: Helios sent a storm and we were ship­wrecked yet again. Only this time, all but I died. I washed ashore on Calyp­so’s Island and Calyp­so was kind enough to take me in. That was 6 or 7 years ago now, and you might won­der why I did not attempt to escape until now. Hon­est­ly, Pene­lope, Calyp­so is a great lover—and for the first few years I was here, I was still so angry about your suit­ors, that I want­ed to get revenge. The last few years, it was sim­ply too hard to say good­bye to the life of lux­u­ry. Calyspo needs a lot of pro­tect­ing, there were no end to the demons and gods and mon­sters that need­ed fight­ing off. (It is nice to feel need­ed, [you know]).

It is not as [fun] as you might think, being a war hero con­stant­ly under siege by the gods, the seas, the mon­sters and the women who become [infat­u­at­ed] with you. And Calyp­so always had a glass of wine await­ing my return from the battlefield.

But I am [over it] now (Calyp­so may or may not have run out of wine), and on my way home, yet again. Expect me with­in a week or so, give or take a year. I will bat­tle the suit­ors and take my place beside you and our dear boy, Telemachus, once again. 

Yours tru­ly,

P.S. Do I have any more giant wood­en hors­es [lying about]? I’m not sure how, yet, but I think it might come in handy when try­ing to break back into our home. Let me know! ♦