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.

1178 BCE — Odysseus reclaims the throne of Ithaca

Tradition holds that this is the day that the Odyssey ended: that Ulysses returned to Ithaca, recruited his son and other allies, and tricked his wife’s suitors before slaughtering them all. Along the way, he was also reunited with, in order, his dog (who died of old age shortly thereafter), his father, his childhood nurse, and finally, his wife, Penelope, the most faithful woman in all of Greek Myth.

Twenty years after his departure for the ringing fields of windy Troy, the very last of the Danaans returned home. The age of myth in Greece, as we know it, ended shortly thereafter, with the final triumph of the wiliest and most determined of all the heroes of Greece.

Referenced in:

Steely Dan — Home At Last

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

1904 – The first ever Bloomsday. Sort of.

Bloomsday is a commemoration observed annually on 16 June in Dublin, Ireland and elsewhere to celebrate the life of Irish writer James Joyce and relive the events in his novel Ulysses, all of which took place on the same day in Dublin in 1904. The name derives from Leopold Bloom, the protagonist of Ulysses, and 16 June was the date of Joyce’s first outing with his wife-to-be, Nora Barnacle, when they walked to the Dublin village of Ringsend.

At least, that’s the official version.

There are those who say that in truth, the date Joyce chose to set Ulysses on was not to commemorate his first date with Nora, but rather, the first time the two had any sort of sex (in this case, consisting of her masturbating him to orgasm).

But feel free to continue to believe that the author of Ulysses was a chaste man if it makes you happy – I merely suggest that if you wish to maintain this belief, you never read the book itself.

Referenced in:
Bloomsday – The Kingdom of Idiot Rock