Nostos (Greek: νόστος) (pl. nostoi) is the Greek word for homecoming, the idea of returning home from a long journey. Nostos can also mean "Welcome Home" in the Greek language. Nostos 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.)
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, to describe the psychological condition of longing for the past.
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