Homer opens with an invocation, or a prayer to the Muses* asking them to help him to sing his tale. This song helps give the audience hints about his story is to end.
"Sing in me, Muse, and through me tell the story
of that man skilled in all ways of contending,*
the wanderer, harried for years on end,
after he plundered the stronghold
on the proud height of Troy.
He saw the townlands
and learned the minds of many distant men,
and weathered many bitter nights and days
in his deep heart at sea, while he fought only
to save his life, to bring his shipmates home.
But not by will nor valor could he save them,
for their own recklessness destroyed them all-
children and fools, they killed and feasted on
the cattle of Lord Helios, the Sun,
and he who moves all day through heaven
took from their eyes the dawn of their return.
Of these adventures, Muse, daughter of Zeus,
tell us in our time, lift the great song again.
Begin when all the rest who left behind them
headlong death in battle or at sea
had long ago returned, while he alone still hungered
for home and wife. Her ladyship Calypso
a nymph, immortal and most beautiful,
who craved him for her own.
And when long years and seasons
wheeling brought around that point of time
ordained for him to make his passage homeward,
trails and dangers, even so, attended him
even in Ithaca, near those he loved.
Yet all the gods had pitied Lord Odysseus,
all but Poseidon, raging clod and rough
against the brave king till he came ashore
at last on his own land...."
Muse - The Greeks believed that there were nine Muses, daughters of Zeus. The muses inspired people to produce music, dances, poetry, and other art forms we see today.
Contending - fighting; dealing with difficulties