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The Greek mythical figure and king of Ithaca (one of the Ionian islands) was the hero of the Trojan War (the inspiration for the "Trojan Horse"). In the epic "Odyssey" by the poet Homer (8th century BC), his adventurous journey home is recounted after the victory over Troy. Odysseus had brought wine from his home island and from Thrace (at that time the entire Balkan peninsula - today divided between the three countries Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey). The latter was a red wine that was honey-sweet and so rich in alcohol that it was said that it usually had to be diluted with 20 parts water. One of the stops on Odysseus' odyssey was the land of the Cyclopes (probably Sicily). Here Homer and 12 of his companions fell into captivity with the one-eyed giant Polyphemus, who imprisoned them in a cave and gradually consumed six of them. Odysseus offered him Thracian wine as a digestive drink (image linsk). After drinking it, the effect on the giant was literally staggering, for he fell into a deep sleep. Then Odysseus and his companions rammed a red-hot stake into his only eye (picture right). The following morning, the prisoners escaped to their ship. Polyphemus threw a rock at the ship, but it missed the target. This can still be seen today, half submerged, off the east coast of Sicily near the volcano Etna.

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Roman Horvath MW

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