Massachusetts Medical Society
On his 10-year voyage back to Ithaca from the Trojan War, Ulysses was warned by Circe to take precautions if he wanted to hear the Sirens' transfixing song, or there would be “no sailing home for him, no wife rising to meet him, /no happy children beaming up at their father's face.” Ulysses accordingly ordered his men to stop their ears with beeswax and bind him firmly to the mast and instructed them that if he gestured to be set free, they should stick to the original agreement and bind him tighter still. Making an agreement that has as a major condition relinquishing the right to change one's mind can be called a “Ulysses contract.” In Homeric mythology, such a contract can seem reasonable; but should contemporary courts enforce such a contract when a substantial change in family circumstances leads to a change of mind?
George J. Annas,
Ulysses and the Fate of Frozen Embryos - Reproduction, Research, or Destruction?,
New England Journal of Medicine
Available at: https://scholarship.law.bu.edu/faculty_scholarship/1279