Odysseus: The Postcards
by Camille Elizabeth Knox
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,
THE LAND OF THE LOTUS-EATERS
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,
THE HOME OF AEOLUS, KEEPER OF THE WINDS
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,
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.
THE ENDS OF THE EARTH
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.
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.
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! ♦