I am Gila, daughter of Danny, known to all for my creativity, famous for my sense of humour. Lively Melbourne is my home.

 

The Lotus Fruit

 

The Odyssey: Any crewman who ate the lotus, the honey sweet fruit,

lost all desire to send a message back, much less return,

their only wish to linger there with the Lotus-eaters,

grazing on lotus, all memory of the journey home

dissolved forever. I ordered all that remained of my men to stay away

from the Lotus-eaters, for fear they would trap us

on the island by feeding us the lotus. But alas,

those fools, they disobeyed my orders, and they snuck out behind

my back, helping themselves to the lotus, those

cursed honey-fruits.

I wept, I cried to Zeus, begging him to give me

back all I had lost – my men, my courage, my leadership.

But no sign came, no bolt of lightning, no thunder,

no storm brewing. And I cursed Zeus, master of the winds,

for letting me live like this, a broken man.

So I wandered into the dense woodland, not caring to

tread lightly, for I had lost all hope. But then

I came upon a lotus tree, and it captured my

attention, for the fruit was round and sweet smelling, irresistible,

I ceased to remember anything but that

I must eat the fruit. So I plucked one and ate it,

a heavenly burst of flavour delighting me, it was surely the food

of the gods. All I could think of was the taste

of the magnificent lotus, all memory of the

journey home forgotten.

I made my way to a clearing with an abundance of lotus trees,

here I constructed a frame from branches, and over

the frame I draped lotus leaves. I stayed

for three nights and three days,

content with resting, feasting upon the sweet fruit.

But when Dusk with his indigo fingers covered

the sky, and Night rode her chariot across the stars

and banished Day for the fourth time, I was blessed

with a dream from Athena, the goddess as wise as

she is beautiful. She said to me, “Do not feast upon

the lotus, the accursed fruit, for they will enchant

you, poison your mind.”

When young Dawn with her rose-red fingers shone once more,

I awoke but did not reach for a lotus fruit, and at once I

remembered all that I had forgotten. I must find the village of the

Lotus-eaters, arouse my comrades,

bring them home. As I walked,

I hungered, but I did not dare touch a lotus, the honey-sweet

fruit, to appease my hunger. Upon my finding

the village of the accursed Lotus-eaters, I was weary,

and unsure that I could arouse my enchanted comrades. The

temptation to sample a lotus and forget my problems

appealed to me, but Athena herself had warned me

against the fruit, so I restrained myself. I searched

for my men, looking into every hut, upon finding them,

I almost gave up, for they were sitting on mats,

feasting on lotus, their eyes glazed, their fingers

smeared with lotus juice. But I could not give up now,

so I gathered my courage and entered the hut, oh!

the aroma was overwhelming, as strong as the

strongest wine, but I pushed my way through it

and called to my comrades, “Arise, my men. We

have slumbered here too long, we must now

leave this accursed island with its dangerous,

honey-sweet fruit, for they are poisoning your

minds.” But alas, they did not want to leave,

for the lotus fruit had enslaved their minds. Upon this, I hatched

a cunning plan, one that was surely given to me by the

goddess Athena, to cure them, wash them clean of the evil taint of the sweet fruit.

I gathered armloads of the accursed lotus and carried them to

the ships, but I was not tempted to taste one, for seeing

my loyal comrades as mindless as the souls of Asphodel

had cured me of the evil inclination.

And then I went back to the village of the Lotus-eaters,

and I called to my men, “My comrades! You think

yourselves as lucky as kings to sit and eat the lotus. But I have

something better – a meal truly fit for the gods! I have more lotus fruit on

board my ships, better lotus fruit – the fruit is sweeter, riper and

juicier, for it has been watered with the finest wine!”

And at that my men stood, mindless slaves to the lotus, and followed me to the ships,

where, once they were aboard, we would set sail and depart from

the evil place. I waited patiently as they clambered aboard the ships,

one after the other, but they did not go to the rowing benches, instead walking to

the pile of sweet lotus fruit. I fell to my knees in despair, but still I prepared to cast

away, I single-handedly prepared every ship, readying the

sails and reefing them in preparation for the winds

that would surely hit us as a curse from Zeus. But before

we left the accursed island, two of my finest

warriors left the ships to go back to the Lotus-eaters,

oh! the lotus was a curse indeed, but still I laboured,

I ran after them and tempted them with lotus, but they saw

through my cunning plan, no longer loyal to me, not believing that I had

sweeter lotus fruits. So I begged forgiveness from the gods,

binding my warriors with strong cord, lugging them back towards the ships.

But soon I began to tire, for even with my god-like strength

I could not drag two fully grown men through the sand without tiring,

the hot sand drawing the strength from my legs, sweat beading my forehead,

my shoulders sagging under their weight.

I feared they would escape, the bonds

loosening with every step.

The Odyssey: But I brought them back, back to the hollow ships,

and streaming tears – I forced them, hauled them

under the rowing benches, lashed them fast

and shouted commands…

 

Gila Bloch is a year 8 student and finalist in the 2017 Humanities 21 Homer Competition. To find out how you or a student you know can be involved in the 2018 Humanities 21 Homer Competition, contact our General Manager Maeve on 0417 464 001, or via her email [email protected]