Land of the Lotus Eaters in The Odyssey

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  • 0:05 Too Much of a Good Thing?
  • 0:54 Land of the Lotus Eaters
  • 2:12 Analysis
  • 3:02 The Lotus Plants vs…
  • 4:06 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jennifer Carnevale

Jennifer has a dual master's in English literature/teaching and is currently a high school English teacher. She teaches college classes on the side.

The Odyssey is an epic poem featuring the ideals of Greek culture. The hero, Odysseus, faces many obstacles along his 20-year journey. In this lesson we'll go with Odysseus on his journey to the Land of the Lotus Eaters.

Too Much of a Good Thing?

They say too much of a good thing can actually be bad, but sometimes it's hard to resist the urge of wanting more. Is there anything in your life you can never get enough of? Food? Exercise? Shopping? Everyone has something that makes them want to leave reality for a bit and just consume. Maybe you have the travel bug or you love to bar hop. Could you do without your morning coffee or that social media app on your phone? No matter what it may be, we all have something that tugs at us, calls for us. One could call this passion, another could call it addiction.

Odysseus encounters temptations many times on his journey in The Odyssey, but during his visit to the island of the Lotus Eaters, he must pull his men away from their consuming desires and get them back on track so they can all get home safely.

Land of the Lotus Eaters

Odysseus and his men escape death on the island of Ismarus, but this escape does not come without a price. Because his men did not listen to orders, many died in a battle that could have been avoided. Ten days pass; the men fight the rough seas and weather, the gods' curse, to get back on course.

Odysseus and his men end up on the island of the Lotus Eaters. His men eat and rest, waiting for orders from their leader. Odysseus sends three of his men to explore the island. While walking the island, the men encounter the Lotus Eaters and find that they are a peaceful people; they do nothing except eat the lotus plant.

Odysseus' men eat the flowering plant and are immediately changed. Anyone who eats this sweet plant becomes forgetful of their purpose. They forget about their home and all their cares in the world. The men never send back a message to Odysseus; they stay and eat the plant with the natives.

Odysseus finds the men, literally drags them back to the ships, and ties them to the rowing benches. The men fight Odysseus' rescue, wishing to stay on the island and eat more of the sweet plant. He quickly gives the rest of his men the orders to set sail away from this place, fearing more will succumb to the indulgent treat. Once again, the men sail on.

Analysis

On their previous journey, Odysseus' men fail to follow orders and send benches of men to their avoidable death. It's clear Odysseus does not learn from this mistake, because he again trusts his men and sends them off with orders. And again, Odysseus must clean up their mess by physically dragging them back to the ships while maintaining control of the rest of his crew. We will see this pattern repeated throughout his journey.

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