"Sing to me of the man, Muse, the man of twists and turns,
driven time and again off course, once he had plundered,
the hallowed heights of Troy.
Many cities of men he saw and learned their minds,
many pains he suffered, heartsick on the open sea,
fighting to save his life and bring his comrades home.
But he could not save them from disaster, hard as he strove—
the recklessness of their own ways destroyed them all,
the blind fools, they devoured the cattle of the Sun,
and the Sungod blotted out the day of their return.
Launch out on his story, Muse, daughter of Zeus,
start from where you will—sing for our time too."
Analysis: The Odyssey begins with an epic invocation, an appeal to one of the muses, the nine goddesses of the arts. The ancient audience was already familiar with the legend of Odysseus and therefore knew the plot. The man in line 1 is obviously Odysseus. The adventure described involves his return home after the Trojan War. Shakespeare does the same with Romeo and Juliet, telling the entire story in the prologue by means of a sonnet. As with all epics, the narration of The Odyssey begins in media res, which literally means in the middle of. The major events of Odysseus' journey are told by Odysseus to Alcinous via flashbacks.