Thrinacia in The Odyssey

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jennifer Carnevale

Jennifer has taught 9th grade ELA and AP Literature for over 8 years. She has a dual master’s in English Literature and Teaching Secondary Ed from Simmons University. She is also a contracted freelance writer and certified AP Test Reader.

Are you someone who listens to advice when it's offered? In this lesson, we'll travel to Thrinacia, relive Odysseus' adventures there, and learn the importance of following sage advice. Updated: 02/26/2021

Following Advice

In Disney's cartoon version of Alice in Wonderland, Alice says, ''I give myself very good advice, but I very seldom follow it. That explains the trouble that I'm always in.'' It seems Odysseus and Alice have more in common than one would think. They both embark on long journeys away from home and meet interesting creatures with supernatural qualities. They also tend to get themselves into a great deal of trouble, sometimes by not following smart advice when it's given.

In The Odyssey, Odysseus is given very good advice, and there are moments where he can't seem to follow it. He gives in to his men time and again, which ends up putting everyone in danger. Let's look at the advice Odysseus was given and see how the consequences of his actions play out on Thrinacia.

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  • 0:04 Following Advice
  • 0:52 A Warning About Helios' Cows
  • 1:37 Arriving at Thrinacia
  • 2:39 The Men Fail
  • 3:34 The Aftermath
  • 4:35 Lesson Summary
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A Warning About Helios' Cows

Circe sends Odysseus to the Underworld to speak with the blind prophet Teiresias. Teiresias knows Odysseus wants to return home, but he foresees danger in his future. He claims Odysseus will make it to the island of Thrinacia, where Helios, the sun god, keeps his cattle. He informs Odysseus that so long as no one harms Helios' cattle, he and his men will return home safely. If Odysseus or his crew harm the cattle, his ship will be destroyed, and his men will perish.

When Odysseus returns to Aeaea, Circe reminds him to make sure no one touches Helios' cattle. If he or his men bring harm to the animals, Odysseus will return home alone and in agony.

Arriving at Thrinacia

After escaping Scylla and Charybdis, Odysseus and his men see the island of Thrinacia. Exhausted from the terrors they have barely escaped, the men want to stop and rest. Odysseus explains the prophecies from Teiresias and Circe and argues with the men about avoiding the island.

One of Odysseus' men, Eurylochos, speaks for the crew, saying they need a break in case they're hit with a storm or harsh winds. Since Odysseus is now one against the many on his ship, he agrees to stop at the island but begs the men not to touch any animals they find. The men take an oath, and Odysseus tells them to head toward shore. Once ashore, the men eat their food and rest, and Odysseus again reminds them of the danger if Helios' flock is harmed.

The men start out by following orders, but after a month of bad weather, the crew's food and drink runs out, leaving them no choice but to look for food on the island. Odysseus continues to remind the men they can eat anything but the cattle.

The Men Fail

Odysseus leaves his men to go pray. He finds shelter from the windstorm and falls asleep. In the meantime, Eurylochos gathers the crew and begins to persuade them to eat the cattle. He argues that death is terrible, but dying of starvation is the most dishonorable death there is. Eurylochos says they will make sacrifices to the gods, and when they return home, they will build temples in Helios' honor. The men quickly approve and begin to kill and cook the kine, or cattle.

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