Nostos

Nostos

Nostos (νόστος) (pl. nostoi) is the Greek word for homecoming. It is a theme dealt with in many Homeric writings such as the Odyssey, in which the main character, Odysseus, strives to get home after the Trojan War. The plural term nostoi is applied to Greek heroes' homeward journeys after the taking of Troy and is the name of one of the poems of the Epic Cycle on that theme.

Nostos in The Odyssey

There are many instances in The Odyssey in which Odysseus is longing to return home to Penelope, his wife, for example when he is stuck on Calypso's island, Ogygia. Another example is during the night before he leaves the island of the Phaeacians, after he has told them his lengthy story, when he "kept turning his face at the blazing Sun, impatient for it to set, as he was longing to be on his way" (E. V. Rieu's translation for Penguin Classics.)

Modern times

The word nostalgia was first coined as a medical term in 1688 by Johannes Hofer (1669-1752), a Swiss medical student. It uses the word νόστος along with another Greek root, άλγος or algos, meaning pain or longing, to describe the psychological condition of longing for the past. In James Joyce's Ulysses, the final part, during which Leopold Bloom returns home, is called the Nostos.

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