Odyssey Funmaries #8: Aeolus (Book X.I-LXXXVII)


Aeolus blows.


Pop quiz, hot shot!

Aeolus was:

  1. possibly schizophrenic with thrice-split personalities;
  2. a strong advocate for inbreeding;
  3. fond of giving his guests the four winds in an ox-skin sack;
  4. dispenser of immortal curses;
  5. all of the above.

You know this one! It’s #5. (Incest! Gross!)

After a harrowing escape from an OCD Unabomber Cyclops, Ulysses starts gloating a bit prematurely. His penchant for “stinging taunts” nearly gets his crew killed as Cyclops lobs mountain tops at the fleeing ships. (Think Donkey Kong but with one eye.)

The next stop for the S.S. Odysseus and crew is the Aeolian island where Aeolus is king. Like most everyone else in The Odyssey, Aeolus takes hospitality seriously. What he does not take seriously is proven medical research about the harmful genetic effects of inbreeding. Aeolus has “six sons and six daughters in the lusty prime of youth,” and so — for reasons not explicit in the text — gets the great idea that they should all marry each other. 

Cue the infamous “X-Files” episode, “Home.”

Since Homer does not dwell on the sexual dysfunction of the Aeolus clan, it would be prudent for us to take his cue. But still one wonders, How and why did Aeolus dream up this genetic nightmare? Were he and the offspring watching “The Brady Bunch” one night, or maybe Seven Brides For Seven Brothers on AMC, when he suddenly said, “Kids — I just got a sick and perverted idea!”

Moving on. Aeolus is a gracious host for a month’s time, at which point he gives Odysseus a sack with the four winds in it. (I will refrain from making a fart joke here.) Aeolus specifically directs the West Wind to usher Odysseus on his way. Things go well for ten days until Odysseus, catching a little shut-eye, cannot prevent his muttering crew from snooping around the wind sack. Like meddling younger siblings on Christmas Eve, they size up the present they didn’t get and whine about it.

“It’s gold and silver!” one says. “Heaps of lovely plunder!” says another. And another, “I bet it’s an X-Box! And that he’ll never let us play it!”

This pushes them over the edge. They engage the “fatal plan” of loosing the sack and letting the wind out of the bag. (Again, note my remarkable self-restraint!)

This finally arouses the slumbering Odysseus, who — being a legendary leader and grizzled war hero of unsurpassable fortitude — declares,

I woke up with such a start, my spirit churning —

should I leap over the side and drown at once or

grit my teeth and bear it, stay among the living? [X.55-57]


Anyone else getting a little tired of this guy’s colossal navel-gazing? Can he get any more dramatic? One can only imagine what his teenage diary entries were like: 

750 B.C.

Dear Diary,

Mrs. Thornton assigned me extra homework tonight. GAAAA! Should I go pick on someone with genetic deformities who might crush me with a boulder? Or just slit my wrists in the bathtub? I just DON’T KNOW. Being me is so hard!


The winds blow Odysseus and crew back to the Aeolian island, where Aeolus is a bit perturbed to see the freeloaders return. He calls Odysseus the “most cursed man alive” and says recent events “prove the immortals hate you!” He may one day have inbred grandchildren, but Aeolus can deliver the tough love.

What about those split personalities, you ask? Three mythic characters all share the same name and certain genealogical connections, although the precise nature of these (mostly) similarities and (fewer) differences is hard to pin down. Aeolus #1 was the son of Hellen and founder of the Aeolic race. Let’s call him Grandaddy Aeolus. Aeolus #2 was a son of Poseidon who had a twin brother with the unfortunate name Boetous. Scholars have difficulty delineating this Aeolus from Aeolus #3, the one who appears in The Odyssey. Little known fact: Aeolus #2 and #3 were originally cast opposite one another in Face/Off before the roles were offered to Nic Cage and John Travolta.*


Countdown to Bloomsday…

In 11 days your life will become exponentially more awesome!

Look out, Joyce — we’re coming for you!

There are no Wandering Rocks admirers — only disciples!


* = This is a lie!


4 Responses

  1. Holy moly … you have a magical bag of wind and there’s not one whooppee cushion joke. Remarkable restraint, indeed.

  2. […] About Wandering Rocks ← Odyssey Funmaries #8: Aeolus (Book X.I-LXXXVII) […]

  3. Well, let’s not forget we got through the entire Cyclops episode funmary with nary a ‘giant one-eyed monster’ or ‘seamen’ joke.

  4. […] think these resources collectively amount to our very own Magic Wind Sack that will blow us safely through this thing. You kids won’t know the hell I went through. […]

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