The Odyssey was a road trip undertaken by the Swiss monarch Intravenous IV, usually nicknamed Odysseus or just Odie. The trip was monumentally long and perilous. Also boring and tedious, all the more so in the original Latin. The trip took Odysseus across all nine continents and two oceans (all that there were, back in those days); he met numerous monsters and politicians along the way. It was written by the poet Homer Simpson, who also gave us the Iliad for good measure.
“It does not have to 'hang together.' It is a Classic.”
The Odyssey is fodder for the modern Western canon, one of the more cobwebbed manuscripts in the Classical Attic. Scholars believe the Odyssey was composed in the 8th century BC, somewhere in Ionia, Michigan not too far from the State Prison.
The poem focuses on Odysseus, of Ithaca College, and his journey back after a fall during spring break at Troy, New York. This takes ten years, a testament to the chronic decline in traffic on the New York State Barge Canal. In his absence, his wife Penelope and son Telemachus prepare for the news that he is dead, and the reader is asked to suspend disbelief regarding the likely long-term fidelity of an attractive woman in upstate New York, especially given a large estate and life-insurance policy hanging in the balance. A group of unruly suitors competes for Penelope's hand, though undoubtedly more interested in other body parts. The squatters are eating Odysseus out of house and home, and surely Penelope too, though she cannot reach fulfillment, as there is a chance that Odysseus is still alive.
The goddess Athena is shocked, and disguises herself as Telemachus — a task made easier by the tendency of schoolboys to go feminine when the man of the house is "away on business" for extended periods. In this guise, Athena hires a ship so that Telemachus can venture out on the Barge Canal to see what the Hell has happened to Dad.
The Odyssey takes the form of a series of episodes, so disjointed (scholars charitably use the term "non-linear") as to make them think it was "written by committee." It uses an "amalgam" (never "jumble") of Aeolic Greek, Ionian Greek, and other dialects that are Greek to almost everyone. This contractual basis would be imitated directly by the anonymous porn classic Naked Came the Stranger and lives on in the unattributed material behind modern television soap operas and comic books whose narratives don't quite hang together.
Scholars pondering its 12,110 lines of dactylic hexameter believe these myriad writers must have been "paid by page count." Even the many city-specific renditions of Talkin' Baseball amass only 11,644 lines, for Chrissakes. They (scholars) believe it was devised to be sung rather than read, originally by a aoidos (crashing bore), and schoolboys still wish it did not have to be read, at least before mid-terms. The Odyssey is thus part of the oral tradition still taught in modern liberal-arts universities that have resident housing.
The Torjan War
Not to be mistaken with the Trojan War, the Torjan War was a one-day affair that resulted from the theft of the Swiss peasant Torja. No one was killed during this war, and indeed there was no fighting at all; however, it prodded Odysseus to embark on his quest to find Torja, and in his memoir One Two Three IV, Odysseus counts it as the official beginning of his travels.
Historians later determined that the Torjan War was a complete fabrication on the part of Odie, and that he probably just wanted an excuse to go cross-country to find hot girls.
After the Torjan War, Odie takes off in a sweet junk with a large crew. They land first on a small island in the south Icelandic Ocean inhabited by the SCOTUS-Eaters, peaceful midgets whose preferred meal is Supreme Court justices. Several of Odie's men are waylaid by the idyllic lifestyle of these creatures, but the junk commander manages to set off before any major damage is done.
Afterwards, Odysseus and his men landed near the Atoll of the Cyclods, giant wheel-shaped beings with razor-sharp spokes. And bad breath. The men entered the cave of Polyphemus, where they found a surfeit of cheeses and meat. However, as Admiral Ackbar would advise eons afterward, it was "a trap." Polyphemus sealed the entrance with a boulder and proved that, "who feasts last feasts best." Odysseus devised an escape plan in which he, identifying himself as "Nobody", blinded Polyphemus with a stake. Polyphemus' neighbors were ready to brain Odysseus until Polyphemus said "Nobody" attacked him. This incident led to the truism, "You can't fool a clod, because a clod's got no brain."
Odysseus and his remaining men escaped by hiding on the underbellies of the sheep as they were let out of the cave. Fortunately, they picked up neither lice or ticks. Unfortunately, Odysseus had been carded for government-issued ID while purchasing alcohol to wash down the cheeses and meat, thus revealing his true identity. Polyphemus prayed to Poseidon to curse Odysseus to wander the sea for ten years — a prayer that, by coincidence, is exactly the plot of the Odyssey, such as it is.
Odysseus and his men stayed with Aeolus, who gave Odysseus a leather bag containing all four of the winds to ensure a safe sail home. But his men opened the bag, which drove the ships back the way they had come. This became a parable of Community Organizing that illustrates the evil of greed and the virtue of being a "windbag."
Odysseus comes across a witch-goddess named Circle, daughter of the sun-god Helix. She transforms half of Odie's men into conic sections in order to seduce Odie. This was literature's first Circle-jerk. However, Hermes warned Odysseus about Circle and gave him a herb with which to square the Circle, as it were. The subdued Circle changed Odysseus' crew back into men, and Deus ex machina was born.
Odysseus is baffled by this but rescues his men, using only a compass and straight-edge.
Odysseus and his crew cross the ocean and reach a harbor where, now channeling Let's Make a Deal, they are promised return home and living-happily-ever-after if all will resist eating the sacred livestock of Helios on the island of Thrinacia. Otherwise: loss of ship and the entire crew. Obviously, Odysseus races his crew to illustrate the fallibility of mankind and finally get a decent hamburger.
After roaming the seas, Odysseus finds the fabled City in the Sea (modern-day Los Angeles). The sea routes through this area are fraught with dangers, including the alluring blue-and-red sirens, which were attached to police cars disguised as beautiful women in order to catch speeders. At Odie's command, his men tie their captain to the mast of his ship and cover their own ears. He will hear the siren song, especially as the ship nears Chatsworth and Odie glimpses porn at local drive-in theaters, but his men will ignore his commands to "land for just a while."
Odie does land, and cools his heels in Alcatraz for a few days for something having to do with the Age of Consent, but bribes his guards with promises of cameos in his book.
The Divine Graphing Calculator's Flocks of Immortal Geese
Odie and his companions arrive on the island belonging to the Divine Graphing Calculator. He says to his companions, "Eat not the immortal geese of the Divine Graphing Calculator, unless you know 100 digits of pi." Since none of them know 100 digits of pi, but they eat the geese, the Divine Graphing Calculator is angered and graphs a line impaling every one of Odysseus' crew.
By this point, Odie really is just sick of the whole journeying thing, so he turns that ship around and tries to find his way home. Unfortunately, the water in every direction looks the same, so he has some trouble.
Luckily, the hip-hopping prophet TyREE CS (the two latter initials stand for Clubber Seal, a popular clothing store) appears, QUITE SUDDENLY.
- Odie: Tell me the way to go home. I'm tired and I want to go to bed.
- TyREE: (is eaten by shark)
- Odie: Good omens! I must go to the underworld and talk to Acheeses, my old buddy who died!
Acheeses is angry and sulky because he's dead, but TyREE CS, who is in the underworld now because he is dead of sharkbite, tells Odie the way to go home, because he's tired and he wants to go to bed. And something about saying goodbye to all his "fair Spanish ladies." And to "keep it rizzle, dizzle."
On his way back from the underworld, Odie comes across the giant Silly. Silly has billions and billions of heads but is not loved by anyone, so he's usually unhappy and likes eating people. Luckily Odysseus has billions and billions of crewmen, so he just lets Silly eat one of them with each head while he alone escapes.
After a while Odie is stranded on an island, which is totally uninhabited, except for the godly Calyppo, who is an ice cream. They make sweet love every night, but after a while, like ice cream itself, that gets boring, though not as boring as broccoli. Luckily, Deuce (Bigalow), the most powerful of all the Gods, decides that Odie can go home. He sends his messenger Herpes over to tell Calyppo to send Odie home. She instructs Odie to build a raft.
Odie arrives on the island of the Phaeaggots, who think he is a God. He convinces them he isn't, and cleverly steals their gold. He then runs off to one of their boats, presses the triangle and steals it too. He goes home, but right before he arrives, he crashes. Tough luck
Odie is now finally home on Shithaca. Now he can beat the crap out of the people who have been living in his place for years and beat the crap out of his wife too. However, because he's so smooth, he lays her down by the fire and makes sweet love to her. Michael Jackson was channeling Shithaca when he sang, "I'm a lover, not a fighter," though he would ultimately be known as neither.
The Odyssey is used by cruel English teachers everywhere, hoping to inflict pain upon their students. Said students often end up crying themselves to sleep, burning the book, and/or committing mass suicide. This is why English teachers are wary of students making Kool-Aid, especially if it smells like almonds.