Ancient Greek Mythology
Homer: The Odyssey
8th century BC, Ancient Greek.
The magic ship ploughs through the waves, propelled by the Phaeacian oarsmen with the speed of a swallow flying through the air.
'Odysseus has been sailing around this ocean for many years, unable to find his way home,' said Quintin. 'Then all of a sudden, the journey back to Ithaca seems to be trivially easy after all! Released on divine instructions from the island of the goddess Calypso, who had offered him immortality and held him captive for many years, he sailed for seventeen days until coming to another island, but his raft was immediately broken up in a storm. He swam for the shore, barely reaching it with his life.
'Here he finds that the king of this land, King Alcinous, has a wife who can trace her ancestry back to a king of the giants. King Alcinous agrees to send Odysseus back to his island home of Ithaca – he can do this because his people, the Phaeacians, have a supernatural power that enables them to return people quickly and safely to their homes. So as the sun sets...'
'Ah! They set out at nightfall.'
'Yes, as soon as it is dark. Odysseus falls into a deep and impenetrable sleep, like a man who has died, it says... look – here
...on [Odysseus] fell sleep irresistibly, delicious unbroken sleep that looked like death. He sleeps throughout the night, during which time the magic ship ploughs through the waves, propelled by the Phaeacian oarsmen with the speed of a swallow flying through the air, and when Odysseus wakes at dawn the next day he finds himself alone on a shore with all his gifts and possessions dumped around him. No sign of the ship. It has gone. He doesn’t even know where he is, doesn’t seem to recognise it as Ithaca, the island of his home.'
'But it is.'