After a short prologue, we meet Penelope and Odysseus. Penelope is surrounded by a group of Ithacan women who push her to hurry up and choose a new husband (“Do you really wanna wait forever?”). Odysseus, meanwhile, tries to rally his troops, who would prefer to enjoy the lazy pleasures of the Isle of the Lotus Eaters (“Here upon these fragrant shores”). Time stops as Penelope and Odysseus find strength in thoughts of each other (“Like a shipwrecked sailor”).
Odysseus and his crew set out. When they reach land, they briefly believe they have arrived in Ithaca (“Let us praise Athena”)—but then they meet the Cyclops. Odysseus uses his superior wit to humiliate the Cyclops. When Poseidon, god of the sea and father to Cyclops, sees what has happened, he curses Odysseus’ journey.
Odysseus meet Aeolus, keeper of the winds, who gives Odysseus a bag of wayward winds for safekeeping, leaving the west wind free to speed them home. The jubilant crew raises the sail (“Crashing through the waves”). While Odysseus sleeps, his First Mate, curious about the contents of the bag, unleashes a terrible storm, much to the delight of Poseidon (“Bring on the wind”).
Odysseus and his crew land on the island of Circe, a sorceress. Pleased by the looks of her visitor, Circe offers lavish hospitality, but Odysseus is eager to sail on to Ithaca. Furious (“That’s not how things are done”), Circe turns his crew to pigs. Odysseus is exasperated, but the sailors are as happy as pigs in mud (“We’ve been away forever, what’s another year?”). After a year, Circe releases them, warning Odysseus to beware of the Sirens.
The crew prepares to meet the Sirens. After plugging their ears with wax, they bind Odysseus under Athena’s supervision. When the Sirens begin to sing (“Come, come hear our Siren song”), Odysseus struggles to free himself and almost steers the ship into the rocks, but is prevented by the First Mate and Athena.
The two Bards launch a final overview of the epic (“What a trip”), ending with Odysseus’ arrival on the shores of Ithaca. Athena and Poseidon sing of the human condition (“A man’s the feeblest, foolish-‐est creature that ever walked the earth”). Athena warns Odysseus not to reveal himself immediately. When he appears at the palace, the Ithacan women scorn him. Penelope tests the mysterious stranger when he asks about Odysseus’ bow (“They say none can string the bow but Odysseus himself.”) With Athena’s permission, he strings the bow and Penelope flies to him. The people of Ithaca join in a triumphant final chorus (“Ithaca, mighty Ithaca”).