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The lotophages or lotus eaters ( Greek Λωτοφάγοι, from λωτός lotos “lotus” and φαγεῖν phagein “eat”) are a people in Homer's Odyssey from Greek mythology .

Lotophages in the Odyssey

When Odysseus goes ashore with his companions, he sends two men out to explore. These are kindly received by the lotophages. As a welcome gift they give lotus to the companions . Then the men forget their homeland and the purpose of their landing. Odysseus has to force the two men back into the ship. After that, they leave and never return.

Odysseus brings his companions away from the lotophages

“And nine days, hurled by angry storms, I drifted
Across the fish-swamped sea; On the tenth I came
to the lotophages who enjoy flowering food.
There we went up to the shore and drew water.
The friends hurriedly took their meal by the sturdy ships.
And after we were all satisfied with food and drink,
I sent some men on to explore the country,
What mortals there enjoyed the fruit of the stalk:
Two chosen friends; a herald was her companion.
And they soon reached the Lotus Congregation.
But the Lotophages did not offend
Our friends in the least ; they gave the strangers to taste lotus.
Whoever tasted the honey sweetness of the lotus fruits
no longer thought of customers or of returning home:
Instead, they always wanted to
stay in the Lotus Society , and pick the lotus, and renounce their home.
But I forcibly drew the weeping back to the bank,
threw them under the banks of the ship, and tied them with ropes.
Then I ordered and drove the other dear companions
to flee quickly from there, and to save themselves in the ships, so
that one should not forget one's home, irritated by the lotus.
And they went into the ship and sat down on the benches,
sat in a row, and beat the gray wave with oars.
So we steered away with a sad soul. "

- Homer, Odyssee, 9, 82-105 (translation by Johann Heinrich Voss )

More reports on the lotophages and localization

Lotophages are also mentioned by other ancient authors. Herodotus reported in the 5th century BC By a people he calls the Lotophages, who lived on the Libyan coast west of the Maker and east of the Machlyer , near the Gindans . The area of ​​the Machlyer, who according to Herodotus also ate lotus, but to a lesser extent, is said to have extended to the west as far as the Triton River, which flows into the Triton Sea . According to Herodotus, the lotus is a fruit the size of the fruit of the mastic tree , but which is as sweet as dates . The lotophages also made wine from it.

Eratosthenes , a Greek scholar from Alexandria (3rd century BC) said they were based on Meninx, now Djerba .

Several researchers locate the lotophages of the Odyssey on the Great Syrte or on the coast of Cyrenaica .

Motif story

The poem The Lotos-Eaters by Alfred Lord Tennyson , published in 1832 , takes up this motif.

The lotophages play a major role in James Joyce's novel Ulysses . In the original outline that Joyce sent to Carlo Linati, the Italian critic and translator of Exiles , on September 21, 1920 , the lotophages refer as the heading to the second episode in Part II (Odyssey). In the Lotus episode, Bloom picks up a letter addressed to Henry Flower at the Westland Row Post Office, a sign of his secret correspondence with Martha Clifford. The lotophages are a model and parable for the Irish people, especially the Dublin people.

In his epic The Cantos , which contains many Homer references, Ezra Pound draws on the lotophage myth, among other things.

Likewise, Stanley G. Weinbaum in his science fiction - short story The Lotus Eaters (1935; German radio version The lotus eaters BR / SDR 1978).

A song by Nick Cave is entitled The Night of the Lotus Eaters (album Dig !!! Lazarus Dig !!! , 2008).

The Swedish band Opeth has also released a song called The Lotus Eater (album Watershed , 2008).

In the movie Percy Jackson , Percy and his friends go in search of a pearl in a Las Vegas casino called Lotos , which offers visitors lotus cakes that are so happy they will never want to leave. When Percy finds out, the hotel employees are identified as Lotus.

A piece called The Lotus Eaters was part of the live repertoire of the group Dead Can Dance - since it was written shortly before the band split up in 1998, it was initially not released, but was included in a best-of compilation in 2003. Furthermore, a tribute album for them was named after this title.



  1. Herodotus, Historien 4, 177 f.
  2. Quoted in Pliny , Naturalis historia 5, 41.
  3. Heinz Warnecke: Homer's Wild West: The historical-geographical rebirth of the Odyssey , Franz Steiner-Verlag 2008, ISBN 978-3515091640 , p. 152 ff.
  4. See HC Oeser: James Joyce , Suhrkamp Basisbiographie, p. 95 ff.