Did Odysseus and his men bring the string of catastrophes on themselves? Yes, they did get themselves into serious trouble. With a pompous attitude, the men prolonged their journey home to Ithaca. Those who did not have Odysseus’s smarts, died because of this. When they raided the Cicones’ village, harassed Poseidon’s son, and killed the Helios’s cattle, they punished themselves.
Odysseus and his men stormed Cicones, and reeked havoc on all that lived there, even the sheep. They killed men who fought, robbed the citizens, and enslaved the women, and slaughtered the livestock, before dividing the loot between them. But this was a fatal mistake, for the Cicones had a great and powerful army. Odysseus’s shipmates fought a hard battle, but were defeated in the end. Many of their lives were lost. “Six benches were left empty in every ship”. Their selfishness cost them friends and shipmates, and made their attempt to get home, even more difficult.
After stabbing Polyphemus in his eye and blinding him, Odysseus provoked and harassed the Cyclops, which angered him immensely. “ Cyclops, if ever mortal man inquire how you were put to shame and blinded, tell him Odysseus, raider of cities, took your eye: Laertes’ son whose home’s on Ithaca”, shouted Odysseus to the crippled Polyphemus, which was not very smart. If Odysseus had not told the Cyclops this incriminating information, he would have had a much safer journey. Polyphemus begged his father Poseidon, god of earthquake, to curse Odysseus. The Cyclops cried out to his father to prevent Odysseus from returning home, and pleaded with him to let Odysseus lose his companions.
Circe and Tiresias warned Odysseus and his men that it would be disastrous if the sun god’s cattle were harmed. Odysseus urged his men, who were fatigued, to avoid the island of the sun god, Thrinacia. Instead of heeding this warning the men landed on the island, but only after Odysseus made them swear not to touch the cattle. On the island, they did not just touch the cattle, they made a meal of them. Helios, the sun god, was infuriated, and he asked for restitution from Zeus. As a punishment for their crimes, the ruler of all gods threw down a bolt of hot lighting and destroyed Odysseus’s ships. If they had listened to the warnings they received, he and his men would not have lost their only way home.
Odysseus and his men were foolish to believe that they had complete control over their fate. In the end, their actions caught up with them, and only Odysseus lived through the ordeal, barely. Raiding Cicones, tormenting Polyphemus after blinding him, and slaughtering the cattle of the sun god, were fatal and stupid mistakes. If they had not committed these crimes, most of them would be alive and enjoying life in their homeland.