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Lōtophagoi: The Lotus-eaters

By Elani Temperance

For a tribe of people who are only mentioned once (well, twice…) in the ancient mythological writers, and once in ancient Hellenic history books, the lōtophagoi sure have made a lasting impression on humanity. They have been featured in poetry, in music, and they have inspired books and movies, not in the least Rick Riordan’s The Lightning Thief. Today, I want to recount the ancient tales.

The lōtophagoi (λωτοφάγοι) are a tribe of people encountered by Odysseus and his crew as they are trying to find their way home after the long Trojan war. In the Odysseia, Odysseus has had quite the adventure already when a strong northern wind has them land on the shores of an island, inhabited by friendly, inviting people. The crew parts with the ship and some partake in the delicacies offered to them by the tribe. The food their receive lulls their mind into forgetfulness, and their bodies into sleep, and when Odysseus sees what is happening to his crew, he drags them away, ties them down to the ship and sets sail.

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