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- 24 October 2013: Patch Update October 24, 2013 (Stormcaller)
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- 06 June 2013: Patch Update June 06, 2013 (Rise of Atlantis - Judgment)
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Navigator Vitus Bering - December 19
Today's topic is Vitus Bering, who was born on August 12, 1681 and died on December 19, 1741.
He was a Danish navigator in the service of the Russian Navy, a captain-komandor known among Russian sailors as Ivan Ivanovich.
A series of explorations of the northern coast of Asia, the outcome of a long-reaching plan devised by Peter the Great, led up to Bering's first voyage to Kamchatka in 1725 at the age of 47.
In 1725, he went overland to Okhotsk, crossed to Kamchatka, and established the ship Sviatoi Gavriil (St. Gabriel). Aboard the ship, Bering pushed northward in 1728.
In June of 1741, on the way back after discovering Alaska and its Aleutian Islands, Bering became too ill to command his ship, which was at last driven to refuge on an uninhabited island in the Commander Islands group in the southwest Bering Sea.
December 19, 1741 Vitus Bering died at Bering Island, near the Kamchatka Peninsula. This island bears his name.
Odysseus was a legendary Greek king of Ithaca and the hero of Homer's epic poem the Odyssey. Odysseus also plays a key role in Homer's Iliad and other works in the Epic Cycle.
King of Ithaca, husband of Penelope, father of Telemachus, and son of Laërtes and Anticlea, Odysseus is renowned for his guile and resourcefulness, and is hence known by the epithet Odysseus the Cunning (metis, or "cunning intelligence"). He is most famous for the ten eventful years he took to return home after the ten-year Trojan War and his famous Trojan Horse trick.
Odysseus was one of the most influential Greek champions during the Trojan War. Along with Nestor and Idomeneus he was one of the most trusted counsellors and advisers. He always championed the Achaean cause, especially when the king was in question, as in one instance when Thersites spoke against him. When Agamemnon, to test the morale of the Achaeans, announced his intentions to depart Troy, Odysseus restored order to the Greek camp. Later on, after many of the heroes had left the battlefield due to injuries (including Odysseus and Agamemnon), Odysseus once again persuaded Agamemnon not to withdraw. Along with two other envoys, he was chosen in the failed embassy to try to persuade Achilles to return to combat.
When Hector proposed a single combat duel, Odysseus was one of the Danaans who reluctantly volunteered to battle him. Telamonian Ajax, however, was the volunteer who eventually did fight Hector. Odysseus aided Diomedes during the successful night operations in order to kill Rhesus, because it had been foretold that if his horses drank from the Scamander river Troy could not be taken.
After Patroclus had been slain, it was Odysseus who counselled Achilles to let the Achaean men eat and rest rather than follow his rage-driven desire to go back on the offensive—and kill Trojans—immediately. Eventually (and reluctantly), he consented.
During the funeral games for Patroclus, Odysseus became involved in a wrestling match with Telamonian Ajax, as well as a foot race. With the help of the goddess Athena, who favoured him, and despite Apollo's helping another of the competitors, he won the race and managed to draw the wrestling match, to the surprise of all.
Odysseus has traditionally been viewed in the Iliad as Achilles's antithesis: while Achilles's anger is all-consuming and of a self-destructive nature, Odysseus is frequently viewed as a man of the mean, renowned for his self-restraint and diplomatic skills. He is more conventionally viewed as the antithesis of Telamonian Ajax (Shakespeare's "beef-witted" Ajax) because the latter has only brawn to recommend him, while Odysseus is not only ingenious (as evidenced by his idea for the Trojan Horse), but an eloquent speaker, a skill perhaps best demonstrated in the embassy to Achilles in book 9 of the Iliad. And the pair are not only foils in the abstract but often opposed in practice; they have many duels and run-ins (for examples see the next section).
When the Achaean ships reached the beach of Troy, no one would jump ashore, since there was an oracle that the first Achaean to jump on Trojan soil would die. Odysseus tossed his shield on the shore and jumped on his shield. He was followed by Protesilaus, who jumped on Trojan soil and later became the first to die.
Odysseus never forgave Palamedes for unmasking his feigned madness, leading him to frame him as a traitor. At one point, Odysseus convinced a Trojan captive to write a letter pretending to be from Palamedes. A sum of gold was mentioned to have been sent as a reward for Palamedes's treachery. Odysseus then killed the prisoner and hid the gold in Palamedes's tent. He ensured that the letter was found and acquired by Agamemnon, and also gave hints directing the Argives to the gold. This was evidence enough for the Greeks and they had Palamedes stoned to death. Other sources say that Odysseus and Diomedes goaded Palamedes into descending a wall with the prospect of treasure being at the bottom. When Palamedes reached the bottom, the two proceeded to bury him with stones, killing him.
When Achilles was slain in battle, it was Odysseus and Telamonian Ajax who successfully retrieved the fallen warrior's body and armour in the thick of heavy fighting. During the funeral games for Achilles, Odysseus competed once again with Telamonian Ajax. Thetis said that the arms of Achilles would go to the bravest of the Greeks, but only these two warriors dared lay claim to that title. The two Argives became embroiled in a heavy dispute about one another's merits to receive the reward. The Greeks dithered out of fear in deciding a winner, because they did not want to insult one and have him abandon the war effort. Nestor suggested that they allow the captive Trojans decide the winner. Some accounts disagree, suggesting that the Greeks themselves held a secret vote. In any case, Odysseus was the winner. Enraged and humiliated, Ajax was driven mad by Athena. When he returned to his senses, in shame at how he had slaughtered livestock in his madness, Ajax killed himself by the sword that Hector had given him.
Together with Diomedes, Odysseus went to fetch Achilles' son, Pyrrhus, to come to the aid of the Achaeans, because an oracle had stated that Troy could not be taken without him. A great warrior, Pyrrhus was also called Neoptolemus (Greek: "new warrior"). Upon the success of the mission, Odysseus gave Achilles' armor to him.
It was later learned that the war could not be won without the poisonous arrows of Heracles, which were owned by the abandoned Philoctetes. Odysseus and Diomedes (or, according to some accounts, Odysseus and Neoptolemus) went out to retrieve them. Upon their arrival, Philoctetes (still suffering from the wound) was seen still to be enraged at the Danaans, especially Odysseus, for abandoning him. Although his first instinct was to shoot Odysseus, his anger was eventually diffused by Odysseus's persuasive powers and the influence of the gods. Odysseus returned to the Argive camp with Philoctetes and his arrows.
Odysseus and Diomedes would later steal the Palladium that lay within Troy's walls, for the Greeks were told they could not sack the city without it. Some sources indicate that Odysseus schemed to kill his partner on the way back, but Diomedes thwarted this attempt.
Perhaps Odysseus' most famous contribution to the Greek war effort was devising the strategem of the Trojan Horse, which allowed the Greek army to sneak into Troy under cover of darkness. It was built by Epeius and filled with Greek warriors, led by Odysseus. After Troy was sacked, Odysseus threw Hector's son Astyanax from the city walls to his death, lest the child reach manhood and avenge his father.