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Laestrygonians in The Odyssey

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  • 0:03 Introduction to ~''The…
  • 0:56 Odysseus and the…
  • 2:28 Aftermath
  • 3:26 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Liz Breazeale
Homer's 'The Odyssey' presents several fascinating mythological creatures and people. In this lesson, learn about the Laestrygonians and the role they play in this classic work, then test yourself with a short quiz.

Introduction to The Odyssey

Compared to most books, The Odyssey has been around for a long time. We're not exactly sure when it was composed, but most scholars agree that it was sometime around the end of the 8th century BCE in Greece. The epic poet Homer is commonly credited with authorship of both The Odyssey and The Iliad, a sort of prequel.

The Odyssey is an epic poem following its hero Odysseus as he tries to get home to Ithaca after his tour in the Trojan War. He's been away from home for so long (ten years in the war followed by ten years of journeying) that his wife, Penelope, has a flurry of obnoxious suitors vying to take Odysseus's place. His son, Telemachus, is no longer a boy but now a young man who never stops hoping his father will come home and reclaim his position. Odysseus faces numerous obstacles and almost dies several times along his journey home.

Odysseus and the Laestrygonians

The Laestrygonians appear in The Odyssey as one of the obstacles Odysseus must face and defeat in order to return home to Ithaca. What makes them so dangerous and terrifying, though, is the fact that they're a race of giant cannibals. They live in the mythological city of Telepylos, which is described in The Odyssey as 'the rocky stronghold of Lamos.'

The land of the Laestrygonians is full of cannibals, but, upon their arrival, Odysseus and his men don't know this. Their 12 ships float into a harbor surrounded by tall, steep cliffs. Meanwhile, Odysseus keeps his own ship outside the harbor and attempts to climb the rocks and investigate the surroundings. He can't see much save some smoke in the distance and sends a few of his men to follow it. The landing party eventually meets a young woman on the road fetching water. She's the daughter of the king, Antiphates, and directs them to his house.

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