Lotus

Growing on, and forming almost the entire diet of the inhabitants of an un-named island in the Mediterranean off the coast of North Africa, the Lotus plant is infamous for its powerful stupefying effects. The people who live on this island have no recognizable culture other than consumption of the Lotus plant, extreme lassitude and a certain lazy friendliness to outsiders. The only known name for them is that given them in contempt by Ulysses, Lotus-Eaters.

Basically, the Lotus-Eaters live an idyllic life of being perpetually stoned. No wonder they so offended a man of action like Ulysses.

circa 1186 BCE — Odysseus braves the song of the sirens

Call him Odysseus or Ulysses, there’s never been any denying his cunning or his pride – and this particular incident in his legend displays both to full advantage.

It so happened that Ulysses’ ship was on course to pass by the island of sirens – horrible monsters who used their bewitching song to lure sailors to their deaths (they ate them, and not in the good way). Ulysses decided that he wanted to be the first man to hear their song and live.

This is how he did it: he commanded his men to tie him to the mast, then to stop their ears with wax, and to neither remove the wax nor let him loose until such time as the island was out of sight. His plan worked to perfection, and he remains the only man to have heard the sirens sing and lived to tell the tale.

Referenced in:

Golden Brown — The Stranglers
Tales Of Brave Ulysses — Cream