In the Land of the Feathered Serpent was inspired by the journey of Odysseus in Homer’s epic poem The Odyssey (and James Joyce's Ulysses), as well as my own years of travel in Central America in the 1980s and beyond. The characters in Feathered Serpent, and their relationships to Odel, are modeled after those in The Odyssey and in most cases there is also name equivalency. Some of these are listed below.
Odysseus/Odel. Odysseus was the legendary Greek king of Ithaca and the hero of Homer’s Odyssey (Odysseus also plays a key role in Homer’s Iliad). Odel is a literary metaphor for Odysseus, in both name and role. As did Odysseus, who undertook a great journey as he wandered home after the end of the Trojan War, Odel Bernini confronts many challenges and gains wisdom on his own journey. Instead of the Trojan War, of course, Odel’s journey takes place during the civil wars in Nicaragua and Guatemala. In Land of the Feathered Serpent, Odel's story begins when he is still a university student in his twenties, and ends when he is in his fifties; but of course, Odel's life goes on and he may reappear (in a guest spot) in a future novel. (The character of Odysseus in Joyce's Ulysses was Leopold Bloom.)
Penelope. Odysseus’s (and Odel’s) wife (and Molly Bloom in Joyce's Ulysses). Few can resist the seductive powers and persuasions of the beautiful Penelope, and when Odel is away on his adventures the temptress welcomes many suitors.
Laertes. Odysseus’s (and Odel’s) father.
Agelaus. One of Penelope’s lovers in The Odyssey. (Penelope’s lover, Marjorie Agelaus)
Elatus. One of Penelope’s lovers in The Odyssey. (Penelope’s lover, Sonia Elatus)
Skylla. A man-eating she devil in The Odyssey. (Penelope’s lover, Frankie Skylla)
Eumaeus. The loyal shepherd who helps Odysseus on his journey. (Manny Eumaeus, CIA)
Nestor. King of Pylos and a soldier in the Trojan War. Known as a clever speaker and an advisor to Odysseus. (Nestor Papadakis, CIA)
Antinous. The most arrogant of Penelope’s suitors. (Antin Morales, CIA)
Helios. A handsome young man in Greek mythology whose head was crowned with the shining aureole of the Sun, which he personified. On Odysseus’s journey he makes a brief stop on Thrinacia, an island sacred to the sun god Helios, whom Circe chooses to call Hyperion. (Helios Demopoulos, CIA)
Eurycleia. The servant who nursed Odysseus when he was a baby and helped him mature into an adult. (Beatriz Eurycleia, Bob Alcinous’s wife; also, the Cleia Foundation)
Polyphemus. A Cyclops, with whom Odysseus does battle. (Lieutenant Enrique Polyphemus, a one-eyed rouge officer from the Guatemalan Army)
Eupeithes. Odysseus did Eupeithes a great favor that was never returned. (Señor Eupeithes, at the Café Delgadillo in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua)
Alcinous. The son of Nausithous in Greek mythology. The name means, literally, “mighty mind.” In The Odyssey, Alcinous was the happy ruler of the Phaeacians on the island of Scheria; he became a trusted friend of Odysseus and helped him negotiate his journey. (Bob Alcinous, Beatriz’s husband and Odel’s wise lifelong friend.)
Circe. A sorcerer in The Odyssey. Odysseus, using a magical herb to protect himself from her tricks, managed to befriend Circe, who gave him important advice to complete his journey. (La Señora Circe of Barrio Nueva Esperanza; Destiny’s mother, a curandera.)
Arente. An intelligent and influential friend of Odysseus, possessing strength and courage. (Odel's friend Audrey Arente)
Morpheus. Living on the southern shore of the Mediterranean (in what is now Libya), Morpheus was the son of the Greek God of Sleep, Hypnos. Morpheus was fascinated by dreams and, using a magical plant given to him by the Goddess Persephone, he put the army of Odyssius to sleep on the shore of Lotusland, giving them magical dreams.
Pallas (Coquette Pallas). Pallas was the Titan god of battle; part god, part human. The name “Pallas” is also used as an epithet to describe the beautiful Athena, a consistent supporter of Odysseus in The Odyssey. In Odel’s dreams and in his reality, Coquette appears as an irresistible Siren. As in The Odyssey, Circe forewarns Odysseus/Odel of the Siren, who would lure him to her with a magical voice (described by Homer as a honey-sweet voice issuing from her lips), seductive nature, and promise of knowledge. Unable to resist, Odel yields to Coquette’s temptations and in doing so he “crosses the river,” to begin a journey from one stage of his life to the next.