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What Happened to Odysseus on the Island of Laestrygonians?

By Andy Watkins


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The Laestrygonians were known to be a giant race of cannibals who lived on the island of Laestrygonians. They were thought to be the children of Poseidon’s son, Laestrygon. They were most known for the trouble they caused Odysseus and his men.

So, what happened to Odysseus on the island of Laestrygonians? 

When Odysseus and his men come across the island of Laestrygonians, they anchored their ships in the harbor so they could explore the island and have a rest from their travels. Not knowing if the island was completely safe, Odysseus decided eleven of the ships would anchor in the harbor, while the twelfth should anchor outside of the harbor. This was a smart decision. Seeing smoke on the island, Odysseus sends some of his men to investigate. The men end up meeting the king of the island, King Antiphates. He wants to eat the men but the men run away. When they make it back to their ships, they and Odysseus are then attacked by hundreds of of Laestrygonians. The giant man-eaters took it upon themselves to throw giant rocks at the ships. They sank the eleven anchored ships and carried the injured crew members back to their island so they could eat them. Odysseus and what was left of his crew ended up escaping from the island.

Odysseus and the Laestrygonians

After Odysseus and his remaining crew members flee the island of the Cyclopes and meet the god of the winds, Aeolus, they come upon the island of the Laestrygonians. They think it looks like a good enough place to take a rest and recuperate from their recent adventures. They have just come from being blown around the sea and could do with some peace before continuing their journey towards Ithica.

Odysseus, not knowing if the island is safe, and being weary after everything he and his men have gone through, decide the safest option is to anchor eleven of the twelve ships in the harbor and to leave his ship, the twelfth ship, anchored outside of the harbor just in case he and his crew need to flea for any reason. 

They then see smoke coming from the island and Odysseus decides to send a few of his men out to investigate where the source of the smoke is. The men he sends out end up meeting a girl along the path. She tells them she is the daughter of King Antiphates and she shows them to the palace. The men are introduced to King Antiphate’s wife who calls her husband out to meet them. When he enters and sees Odysseus’ men there, all he can think about is eating one of them, so he does just that. 

In terror and shock, the other two men run back to the ship to warn the others and to escape from the strange man-eating giant people. King Antiphate calls upon the hundreds of Laestrygonians who inhabit the island to go after the men. These horrible man-eating creatures end up throwing huge rocks at the eleven ships anchored in the harbor until all eleven of the ships begin to sink and the crew members are severely injured. The giants then spear the injured crew members and take them back to the island so they can eat them. 

Odysseus yells at his crew on the twelfth ship to row for their lives and get them away from the island of evil man-eating giants. He and his crew end up escaping from the island but are then thrown back and forth by the waves of the treacherous sea until they land on the island of Aeaea.

Where Did the Laestrygonians Come From?

The Laestrygonians were a race of man-eating giants thought to be either the offspring of Poseidon’s son, Laestrygon or a product of Poseidon and Gaia. They were said to live on the island of Laestrygonian or the area known as Sicily. 

Who Are the Laestrygonians and What Do They Do?

The Laestrygonians were known to be a race of man-eating giants. They inhabited the island of Laestrygonian and were ruled by King Antiphate. They were barbaric, cannibalistic, and very strong, capable of lifting large rocks to throw at ships. 

How Many of Odysseus’ Men Were Killed by the Laestrygonians?

The Laestrygonians attacked eleven of Odysseus’ twelve ships. The only ship and crew that was left alone was the twelfth ship which Odysseus himself was on. The crew members on the other eleven ships were all killed and dragged off by the Laestrygonians, who took the crew members to their island to eat them. (insert about the crew he lost before and now this)

Final Thoughts

The Laestrygonians were a terrible and ruthless race of giants. The encounter Odysseus had with these creatures really disrupted much of his Odyssey. Of the 12 ships he arrived with on the island he only escaped with one. 

If you have any comments or ideas about the Laestrygonians then please let us know in the comments below. Thanks! 

About Andy Watkins

I have always been interested in mythology. From a very early age in Britain, I was known to sit at the breakfast table reading encyclopedias about many of the major world mythologies. Learn more about MythNerd's Editorial Process.

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