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The Odyssey
Star Wars is no epic -- this is EPIC!
About this creation

Sing in me, Muse, and through me tell the story of that man skilled in all ways of contending, the wanderer, harried for years on end, after he plundered the stronghold on the proud height of Troy.
He saw the townlands and learned the minds of many distant men, and weathered many bitter nights and days in his deep heart at sea, while he fought only to save his life, to bring his shipmates home.
But not by will nor valor could he save them, for their own recklessness destroyed them all – children and fools, they killed and feasted on the cattle of Lord Helios, the Sun, and he who moves all day through heaven took from their eyes the dawn of their return. Of these adventures, Muse, daughter of Zeus, tell us in our time, lift the great song again.

Whew, let me get this heavy gear off.

That’s better. Homer, the old blind dude that wrote the Odyssey, asked me to stand in for him today as he’s off visiting his cousin Oedipus in Thebes. At any rate, it’s up to me to tell you the epic tale of Odysseus’ wanderings, Deathdog-style. It is the original epic adventure, filled with all those things that we love – death, destruction, utter mayhem, and monsters! There’s even a faithful dog!

Naturally, I expect some of you that think you know more than me will feel you must correct my version of the tale – let me say that I really don’t care about that so save your breath. I’m telling the story, not you, and my master’s degree tells me that I can smooth over any changes by calling this "an adaption" or claiming "poetic license." They can do it in the movies, so I can do it here. Now just sit right back and you’ll hear the tale, the tale of a fateful trip …

Ten years have passed since the fall of Troy, and the Greek hero Odysseus still has not returned to his kingdom in Ithaca. A large and rowdy mob of dudes, called suitors, wanting to marry Odysseus’s wife, Penelope, have set up shop in the palace and basically trashed the place. She has remained faithful to Odysseus and her son, Prince Telemachus, wants them gone but doesn’t have the experience or the confidence to fight them. Antinous, the biggest jerk of them all, plans to assassinate the young prince, force Penelope to marry him, and rule Ithaca since Odysseus is obviously dead.

Ah, but Odysseus is not dead! He’s very much alive in spite of serving as a punching bag for a bunch of self-absorbed, meddling “gods” on a hill somewhere . . .

You see, thanks to these jerks and their offspring/crazy relatives, Odysseus has been prevented from returning home these many years. In fact, the gods are in the midst of a great discussion about what to do about Odysseus. Athena, who is pulling for the O-man like nobody’s business (she almost seems to have the hots for him), decides she’s going to visit Telemachus and encourage the young man to give the suitors a severe tongue lashing – then tells him he’d better hotfoot it off Ithaca in search of news about his father. In other words, he taunts them and runs away. Some hero, huh?

Well, where is this Odysseus if he’s alive? He’s here, trapped on the island home of the beautiful nymph Calypso. She has him trapped, and not just with her many charms, on the island of Ogygia. Thanks to Athena’s urging to flee, Telemachus learns of this from King Menelaus of Sparta. While he’s there, he meets Helen, wife of Menelaus and the cause of all the troubles with Troy.

Troy! That magical walled city that Helen was whisked off to by Paris, son of King Priam, after Paris gave the golden apple to Aphrodite. You know, Helen? The face that launched a thousand ships? Pretty sure it wasn’t just her face that brought that on because Helen was the total package – the Kate Upton of her day, you might say.

Anyway, Troy! A city of wonders, with slave markets and working water features! A city so fabled, so reknowned that it was said it would never fall to its enemies. King Priam was aghast when Paris brought Helen home to meet Mom and Dad, but she quickly won the king’s heart with a bit of “jiggle and giggle” and he blessed the marriage -- even though it meant doom for him and his city.

Now King Priam didn't just have one son -- he had 50! And he had 50 daughters as well. Just imagine the whining he must have dealt with. Anyway, once Helen of Sparta became Helen of Troy, all Helena broke loose with the Greeks. They were serious mad, and Helen's husband (Menelaus) and his creepy brother Agamemnon gathered an army (sometimes called the Achaeans, but we'll just stick with Greeks) to bring her back.

Odysseus was part of that army, and the Greeks spent 10 long years outside the great walls of Troy battling the Trojans, the gods, and themselves before someone finally has a brilliant idea -- let's build a big fake horse, hide some men inside it, and then have the rest of the fleet "sail away."
That dude with the great idea was, of course, Odysseus. Master strategist, cunning tactician, skilled in all ways of combat – from swordplay to archery to checkers -- Odysseus was respected for his intellectual and physical prowess. Some considered the idea idiotic: a huge horse left as a gift, as an apology, by the Greeks for daring to wage war on Troy was outlandish and stupid. I admit, I find the idea ludicrous as well. Those who thought it dumb dared not voice their objections, for Odysseus was held in the highest esteem by all of the Greek kings and their generals. So, they dismantled a ship and the great wooden horse was built …

Funny thing is, the morons inside Troy bought it hook, line, and sinker.

They took the horse into the city, and that night after the wild victory parties died down, the Greeks (led by Odysseus) pillaged and plundered great Troy, and only a few Trojans escaped (one was a guy named Aneas, and he went on to greatness as the father of Rome). It was a slaughter. The carnage? Unimaginable. They left no stone unturned – they even dropped deuces in the well to prevent Troy from rising again.

Which is why you should always be wary of Greeks bearing gifts.

Anyway, with Troy in ruins, the triumphant Greeks sailed for home. Odysseus, flush with pride and arrogance, promises his men he will see them all home safely, but it was not to be, as we shall soon see.

Odysseus and his flotilla of ships from Ithaca were in for a world of hurt because some of the gods had supported Troy, and they were more than a little ticked off by the cunning strategy of our hero. Bad things started to happen to Ody and his men, and they begin here, in the land of the Lotus Eaters.

A lovely place inhabited by people who munch on the delicious fruit of the lotus plant -- and that's about all they do. The plant is a powerful drug that makes the user want to do nothing else but stay on the island and never leave. It's sort of like the PS4 of its day, I suppose. It’s lovely to just laze around day, doing nothing, but it’s also not a good way to live your life. In fact, life passes you by when you spend all your time hippy-dippy stuporville, so you might say that my boy Homer is responsible for the very first “Just Say No” public service announcement.

Anyway, three of Odysseus' men try the plant and he has to drag back to the ship in chains so they can leave. It makes him sad to do this, but he promised to bring all of them home safely and if it took a little bit of strong arming to do so, by the gods, Odysseus would get it done.

Escaping from the land of the Lotus Eaters, Odysseus and his men find themselves in dire need of provisions. They’re starving and suffering in the boats, but then land is sighted. It is a fertile island abundant with fresh water and abnormally large sheep. The men, while seeking to restock supplies, come across a cave with plenty of cheese and milk.

Unfortunately, it is the home of the cyclops Polyphemus (Poly-Fee-Mus, thanks Chris!), a son of Poseidon. Polyphemus and the rest of his one-eyed brethren spend their days peacefully tending their sheep and living the good life. At least it seems that way. While the men satisfy their hunger, Polyphemus comes home. He’s very nice and welcoming at first, but then he eats a couple of Odysseus' men and blocks the exit of the cave with a large rock. Then, since he's such a nice fella, he tells the survivors their friends were delicious and he can't wait to see how they taste.

Wise, cunning Odysseus comes up with another brilliant plan: first, sharpen a large stick and poke out Polyphemus' lone eyeball. Then, using sheepskins to disguise themselves as sheep, they sneak out of the cave when the big ugly rolls the rock to let the flock out to graze. Polyphemus, now blind, is fooled and thinks he’s letting out his sheep instead of his dinner. The Greeks rush back to their ships and sail off while Polyphemus bemoans his blinded state to his brothers. Odysseus’ pride get the best of him and he taunts the blinded Cyclops, revealing the plan was his idea and his real name. This brings on a curse from the son of the sea god, and that's not a good thing.

Posiedon, the earth shaker, the god of the sea, did everything he could to get Odysseus' ships off course. The Greeks land at the home of Aeolus, ruler of the winds.

Aeolus presents Odysseus with a bag containing all of the winds, and he stirs up a westerly wind to guide Odysseus and his crew home.

Within ten days, they are in sight of Ithaca, but Odysseus’s shipmates, who think that Aeolus has secretly given Odysseus a fortune in gold and silver, tear the bag open. The winds escape and stir up a storm that brings Odysseus and his men back to Aeolia. This time, Aeolus tells them they’re on their own because he doesn’t want any of the major gods taking action against him for helping Odysseus.

Here’s the problem: the god of the winds stops any wind at all from blowing, so the Greeks are forced to row. Good thing the ships had oars, huh? So the Greeks row away from the home of the wind god and right into the thick of it again.

This time, they find themselves in the land of the Laestrygonians, a race of powerful giants whose king, Antiphates, and unnamed queen turn Odysseus’s scouts into dinner.

Odysseus and his remaining men flee toward their ships, but the Laestrygonians pelt the ships with boulders and sink them as they sit in the harbor. Only Odysseus’s ship escapes.

From there, Odysseus and his men travel to Aeaea, home of the beautiful witch-goddess Circe (pronounced Kirk-ee, I believe). Circe drugs a band of Odysseus’s men and turns them into pigs. When Odysseus goes to rescue them, Hermes, the messenger god, approaches him and tells Odysseus to eat an herb called moly to counteract from Circe’s drug. Odysseus follows Hermes’ instructions, overpowering Circe and forcing her to change his men back to their human forms.

Odysseus, being a major playa, becomes Circe’s lover, and he and his men live with her in luxury for a year. Nothing to do but lay around and relax, and of course keep warm at night with a woman of unfathomable beauty. She even made Helen look like a dog. Keep in mind, Odysseus' wife is faithfully awaiting his return from the war this whole time, but he doesn't seem to mind lingering around for a year when Circe plys him with her, ahem, charms. When his men finally persuade him to continue the voyage homeward, Odysseus asks Circe for the way back to Ithaca. She doesn't him to go, but she finally relents because he's so "unhappy."

Circe tells Odysseus he must travel to visit the realm of Hades, brother of Zeus, god of the underworld and ruler of the dead. Our boy has to visit the spirit of Tiresias, a blind prophet who will tell him how to get home. It’s a good thing, too, because one of his men gets drunk, passes out on a roof, and then falls off it trying to wake up.

So off they go to the underworld, where Ody spills the blood to draw the shades of the dead. He sees Tiresias, who predicts our hero will return to Ithaca and will reclaim his wife and his kingdom. He warns Ody not to touch the cattle on the island of the Sun, otherwise there will be much suffering and Odyssues will be the lone survivor (foreshadowing, anyone?) He is also visited by the spirit of Achilles, legendary warrior who was laid low after gaining glory before Troy. Achilles tells Ody that having glory and an early death is much worse than living a long, uneventful life.

"Hey, what's a guy gotta do to get a drink around here? A little water, that's all I ask!"

"Go on, sweetheart. This isn't a talent show -- it's an epic tale of adventure."

"You're a jerk."

Oh, I almost forgot: Odysseus is visited by the shade of his mother, Anticleia, who was so distraught over the possible loss of her son so she strolled out into the sea and drowned herself. Dramatic woman, that. Most Greeks would either stab themselves or use poison, but not Anticleia -- the long, slow, and oh-so-melodramatic walk into the sea gives us a true idea of the depths of her pain (pun intended, duh).

The crew returns to Aeaea to give a proper burial to the dead drunk who fell off the roof, who was a young man named Eucalyptus, Elpenor, or something like that. The deader also paid a visit to Ody in the underworld and made the request. You see, it dishonored the dead -- even enemy dead -- to not be given a burial. It was a religious thing, but really it was more sanitary reasons if you ask me. Who wants dead dudes lying around stinking up the place. Anyway, Circe gives Odysseus advice on how to avoid the obstacles he and his men would face if they were to make it back to Ithaca.

The first obstacle is to bypass the island of the lovely (?) Sirens, whose song lures sailors to their deaths. The best thing to do is stay out of the area all together, but of course THAT is not going to happen.

Odysseus, a most curious man, plugs his men’s ears with beeswax and instructs them to chain him to the ship’s mast so that he can hear the beautiful song. The beeswax is a good idea since Odysseus pleads his men to release him – they can’t hear the song or their captain, so they make it past the island safely.

Not so fast, there Ody-boy! The twin terrors of Scylla and Charybdis await! Scylla is a six-headed monster who, when ships pass, swallows one sailor for each head. Charybdis is an enormous whirlpool that threatens to swallow the entire ship.

As instructed by Circe, Odysseus holds his course tight against the cliffs of Scylla’s lair. As he and his men stare at Charybdis on the other side of the strait, the heads of Scylla swoop down and gobble up six of the sailors. Oops!

Up next is the island of the Sun, otherwise known as Thrinacia in some accounts. Odysseus urges his men to avoid the island, but no, they persuade him to stop. I mean, what harm could it do to stop for an afternoon, right?

A storm comes up and they’re stuck for a month. The ship’s provisions gone, the crew disobeys orders and slaughter some of the Sun’s cattle. Uh-oh, that was a majorly craptastic move!

The Sun, sometimes called Helios, asks big daddy Zeus to punish the Greeks, and he doesn’t disappoint. Zeus sends a mighty lightning bolt down to sink the ship and, well, Ody is the lone survivor. Tiresias was right! Boom, baby! Odysseus is spared, but he’s not home yet. He clings to the wreckage and arrives on Calypso’s island of Ogygia.

Calypso, another woman who would keep him away from Penelope (his wife, remember? Stay with me!), also falls for our hero. For a married man, he sure got around. I mean, he pined for his wife while having his way with half the known world. I'd call him a dog, but that's cruel to my canine brethren. Hermes, messenger god, convinces the nymph to set our boy free and off he sails. Posiedon, god of the sea, is steamed and sends a horrific storm to sink Ody's boat. Jeez, he spends more time in the water than on it!

Our boy, shipwrecked and bedraggled, lands on Scheria, home of the Phaeacians, and still somehow manages to put the moves Nausicaa, a Phaeacian princess. Nevermind the fact he's old enough to be her grandpa (eww). Smitten, she shows him to the royal palace, and (after he reveals his identity) Odysseus receives a warm welcome from the king and queen. They promised to give him safe passage to Ithaca, but first they begged to hear the story of his adventures which I, your storyteller, have just related.

Odysseus sets sail as soon as the sun goes down. He sleeps the whole night, while the Phaeacian crew commands the ship. He remains asleep even when the ship lands the next morning. The crew gently carries him and his gifts to shore and then sails for home.

When Poseidon spots Odysseus in Ithaca, he becomes enraged at the Phaeacians for assisting his nemesis. He complains to Zeus, who allows him to punish the Phaeacians. Just as their ship is pulling into harbor at Scheria, the ship suddenly turns to stone and sinks to the bottom of the sea. Nice, eh?

Back in Ithaca, Odysseus wakes to find a country that he doesn’t recognize, for Athena has shrouded it in mist to conceal its true form while she plans his next move. See, Athena is also cunning and distrustful, which is why she favors Odysseus. At first, the rightful king of Ithaca curses the Phaeacians, whom he thinks have duped him and left him in some unknown land.

But Athena, disguised as a shepherd, meets him and tells him that he is indeed in Ithaca. With characteristic cunning, Odysseus acts to conceal his identity from her until she reveals hers. Delighted by Odysseus’s tricks, Athena announces that it is time for Odysseus to use his wits to punish the suitors.

She tells him to hide out in the hut of his swineherd, Eumaeus. Telemachus finally arrives on Ithaca and, fearing reprisals from the suitors, goes to the swineherd's hut. Odysseus is still in disguise, mind you. Eumaeus goes to the palace to tell Penelope her son is home, and Athena reveals Odysseus to his son.

Happily reunited, father and son lay out a plan to take revenge on the suitors. Telemachus goes home and faces some scorn from the suitors, who are upset they didn't get a chance to kill him before Penelope set eyes on him. Odysseus, disguised yet again, goes to the palace "seeking work." He, too, is abused by the suitors. Somehow, father and son manage to remove most of the weapons from the palace AND make sure the suitors are locked in.

Now here's where it gets weird. First, Odysseus' finest hunting dog, that's been hanging to life for the past 20 years waiting for its master to return, gets a whiff of the O-man and then bites the dust. Athena then puts it into Penelope’s head to make an appearance before her suitors. The goddess gives her extra stature and beauty to entice them into bringing her gifts by claiming that any suitor worth his salt would try to win her hand by giving things to her instead of taking what’s rightfully hers.
Odysseus, still in disguise, learns that Penelope has decided that she is going to choose a new husband nevertheless: she will marry the first man who can shoot an arrow through the holes of twelve axes set in a line.

The next day the suitors are once again plotting Telemachus’s murder and planning how to win Penelope's hand in wedlock. Meanwhile, Penelope gets Odysseus’s bow out of the storeroom and announces that she will marry the suitor who can string it and then shoot an arrow through a line of twelve axes. Telemachus sets up the axes and then tries his own hand at the bow, but fails in his attempt to string it. The suitors warm and grease the bow to make it supple, but one by one they all try and fail.
Odysseus then asks for the bow. All of the suitors complain, fearing that he will succeed. Needless to say, Odysseus easily strings it and sends the first arrow he grabs whistling through all twelve axes.

Then he and his boy slaughter the suitors.

Penelope, who has slept through the entire fight, remains in disbelief even when she comes downstairs and sees her husband with her own eyes. Penelope remains wary, afraid that a god is playing a trick on her. Much like her husband, that one.

She orders the nursemaid Eurycleia to move her bridal bed, and Odysseus suddenly has a hissy fit. It seems their bed is immovable, and he starts ranting about how it is built from the trunk of an olive tree around which the house had been constructed. Hearing him recount these details, she knows that this man must be her husband. They get reacquainted and, finally, the king is home and all is well.

Ok, so that was long and boring. Try reading a complete translation of the story sometime!

The builds are all by members of VirtuaLUG, and the presentation was made at Brickworld 2014 in Chicago. Yes, the group won the award for best group layout, and a number of our members were either nominated for or won individual awards. There are other posts with all the details on that stuff, so I'll skip that other than to say "Well done, LUGmates!" Yes, it was an awesome time in Chicago and I'm proud of all my friends for such an amazing feat. If you look around here on MOCpages, you'll find plenty of the nitty gritty details about how all this came together -- me, I'm just a storyteller. That's my job.
The builders:
Team Leader and builder of Scylla and Charybdis: Kevin Walter
Ithaca: Hans Dendauw, Betsy Sandberg (assisted by Misti Whoselastnameidontknow)
Troy: Chris Phipson
Lotus Eaters: Dennis Price/Deathdog
Polyphemus: Mark Kelso
Island of Aeolus: Kevin Lauer, Dave Sterling
Island of the Laestrygonians: Tyler Halliwell
Circe's Island: Leda Kat
Hades: Lee Jones
Charon's boat: Adam Reed Tucker
Sirens: Dave Kaleta
Cerebus: Master Shifu Leo J
Isle of Helios: Kyle Peterson, Bryan Bonahoom
Isle of Calypso: Heath Flor
Mount Olympus: El Barto
The brilliant boats AND the Trojan Horse: Matt Rowntree (who did each and every sail by hand!)
The Aegean Sea: Adam Stasiek
Custom figures, shields, and accoutrements (such as drinking vessels) by Kyle Peterson and the folks at Brickforge.
Pig's heads by Guy Himber and Crazy Bricks.
Table construction team leader: Phipson. Team members: Jones, Rowntree and a draft pick to be named later)
Assisting: The delightful Mrs. Danette Jones and her offspring, Maddie and Dano, plus the amazing Mitzi Price.
The Writer: Homer (with assistance from Deathdog and SparkNotes -- hey, a master's degree only takes you so far!)
Apologies to anyone who contributed but was left off the list. You are loved and appreciated; even you, Abner.

Brought to you by VirtuaLUG!


 I like it 
  July 4, 2014
So many fun and cleverly constructed vignettes. My favourite one is the Cyclops, with is sheep and custom stickers. It would great to have time to look at this for real and spot all of the little extras that must be hidden away!
 I made it 
  July 4, 2014
Quoting Hans Dendauw NPD Entertaining write-up, teach! You managed to get the best pics of Ithaca and all her details that I've seen, a fail on my part. It's so difficult to concentrate on pictures when having so much fun with such great people! My face hurt from smiling and laughing the whole weekend, I can't wait to do it again. You, sir, are a gentleman and a scholar, don't ever change.~H
And the same to you, my good man! One good thing about being an early riser was getting into the event hall before the crowd and having a lot of time to focus on getting good shots. I can send you the best of the rest through the usual channels.
 I like it 
  July 4, 2014
Entertaining write-up, teach! You managed to get the best pics of Ithaca and all her details that I've seen, a fail on my part. It's so difficult to concentrate on pictures when having so much fun with such great people! My face hurt from smiling and laughing the whole weekend, I can't wait to do it again. You, sir, are a gentleman and a scholar, don't ever change.~H
 I like it 
  July 3, 2014
This is one of the best layouts I have ever seen. The story is great too. Blogged by
 I like it 
  July 2, 2014
Easily my favorite build at Brickworld. Great job to VLUG, and can't wait to see what you guys have in store for us next year!
 I like it 
  July 1, 2014
fantastic tale and scenes, bravo!
 I like it 
  June 30, 2014
Find the salami! Wonderful work everybody!
 I like it 
  June 29, 2014
Your sarcastic telling of the story made this ten times more amusing. If you are familiar with the Percy Jackson series this is how he woulda told the story too!
 I like it 
  June 29, 2014
 I like it 
  June 29, 2014
Oh cliff notes, how I love thee. haha Thanks for the recap Dennis! ~ Chris.
Dennis Price
 I like it 
Tirrell Brown
  June 27, 2014
Great collab
 I like it 
  June 27, 2014
Homer is rolling in his grave...if he even has one. ;) Brilliant work! You guys never fail to impress!
 I like it 
  June 27, 2014
Impressive and so many gold bikinis!
 I like it 
  June 27, 2014
The story-format was killer. Great job! :)
 I like it 
  June 27, 2014
So THAT's how it all happened! Great way to tell the tale, Chief! Probably could have used some background singers, though...
 I like it 
  June 27, 2014
Thanks Dennis, a fine tale you told! I think I may have been eating too many Lotus blossoms, 'cuz while I was reading this my mind started humming that old Oak Ridge Boys Song, 'Sail Away'! The fabric of my reality can be strange sometimes! Hey, talking about fabric... love the toga! Also glad you mentioned matt's sails, I thought they looked pieced/quilted, some mighty fine stitching too. And of course, fine lines were seen in those buildings on the Lotus-eaters isle! :)
 I like it 
  June 27, 2014
Thank you Dennis. The best retelling of that mad story I've heard. Excellent pictures too. Miss you :-(
 I made it 
  June 27, 2014
Quoting Ben King Great recap of the story and the display! Sorry about the mishap with pictures of your island on my Brickworld post, I assure you it wasn't intentional. Anyways great work everyone! This is my favorite collabrative display VLUG has done in the years I've come to BW. I can't wait to see your display next year and hopefully get a chance to meet more of you.
It's cool, man. I was just yankin' your chain. Saw your stuff at BW -- very nice. Next year, we'll commiserate!
 I like it 
  June 27, 2014
Beautiful collab, brought to life by your hilarious and oddly true (I read the book for English earlier this year) storytelling! So many awesome builds! Love Ithaca and the sirens' island! Scylla and Charybdis are awesome! My favorite might be the Lastrygonian island, such a pretty build! Awesome work all you guys, maybe I'll be able to see next year's collab in person... :D
 I like it 
  June 27, 2014
Great recap of the story and the display! Sorry about the mishap with pictures of your island on my Brickworld post, I assure you it wasn't intentional. Anyways great work everyone! This is my favorite collabrative display VLUG has done in the years I've come to BW. I can't wait to see your display next year and hopefully get a chance to meet more of you.
 I like it 
  June 27, 2014
That's a nice toga you're wearin', oh poetic bard of the dog pound!
 I like it 
  June 27, 2014
Amazing work! Well done!
By Dennis Price
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