I have tried to read Homer's Odyssey and commentaries to find out details about how Odysseus's shipwreck happened, how many men were involved and saved and so forth. It looks like the first book starts when Odysseus was already in the Ogygia island, and information is scattered to several books. Is there a good summary giving this kind of information about this famous story?

  • Always assumed it was a god's intervention
    – bleh
    Commented Dec 23, 2017 at 2:15
  • I don't remember if this is explicitly mentioned anywhere, but I think it was Poseidon's doing as you find out he doesn't like Odysseus.
    – Sam
    Commented Dec 26, 2017 at 17:46
  • Plus, he crashed the raft.
    – Sam
    Commented Dec 26, 2017 at 18:11

2 Answers 2


This is detailed in book 12 of the Odyssey. Odysseus' crew disobeyed his (and the gods') command not to eat the cattle of Helios, which led to Helios' and Zeus' displeasure. So Zeus sends a storm destroying the survivors, as they had just made it through Scylla and Charybdis. Odysseus is swept back to the latter, and sort of just floats on to Ogygia.

You can read the passage yourself on Theoi. Start from line 374.

  • The poem's invocation calls the last surviving companions of Odysseus fools (νήπιοι) for eating those kine, but it seems unjust to blame them; it is part of the gods' plan, as pronounced by Poseidon (9.528-35) and acknowledged as fate by Odysseus himself (11.139). Both Odysseus' sleep (12.339) and the flat impossibility of launching the single remaining ship against a persistent adverse wind (12.313-15) are explicitly said to be the gods' doing, and Eurylochos' preference for drowning (or whatever) later over starvation now is at least rational (12.342-43). Commented Jan 1, 2018 at 16:31
  • So all men died on home return except Odysseus. But it is not explicitly stated how many were there when the adventure started? Could we count all the lost men from the storyline?
    – MarkokraM
    Commented Jan 3, 2018 at 5:30
  • @MarkokraM Unfortunately not. Commented Feb 23, 2018 at 19:57

I think you must start with the Catalog of Ships from the Iliad, take the number of sailors from Odysseus's group, and start with adventure against Cicones. Also, don't forget the story about Lestrigones--there is a heavy loss for Odysseus.

Iliad Book II
Odyssey Book IX
Odyssey Book X

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