When Odysseus ordered his men to put wax in their ears, bind him to the mast and keep rowing until they passed the Sirens, no matter what he might later command, and then, in the throes of passion, attempted to countermand his earlier command, there, then, Constitutionalism was born in the West. We are perpetually challenged at rational moments to keep future passions in check, so when the future becomes the present, we can survive it without regret.
This brief essay summarily employs the metaphor to account for constitutional rights, long and fixed senatorial terms, life-time judicial tenure, judicial review, executive veto, term limits and an intentionally cumbersome amendment process.
It also briefly uses the metaphor newly to illuminate the Declaration's "unalienable rights," problems of honesty in government, the punishment of life-without-parole, and connecting a commitment to original intent with retribution itself.
Finally, it points to an essential flaw in Homer's metaphor: How could Odysseus (or his men) and by extension we, today in this post 9/11 world, know when we have safely passed the point of emergency so as to return Sovereignty to the status quo ante?
49 N. Y. L. Sch. L. Rev. 561 (2004-2005)