Odysseus leaves Troy after a clever wooden horse ruse (worked better than that wooden rabbit idea in King Arthur). Cicones is north of Troy and they were allies of Troy. Odysseus needed supplies and decided that they would be easy pickings. Which they were. This was the problem.
They were so easy to conquer, that the men got cocky (in more ways than one) and decided not to spend their time loading the wine, food, and other plunder like Odysseus told them to and decided instead to drink more wine, slaughter more animals, and, ah, hold hands aggressively with the women (need to keep a non-explicit rating here).
Some of the neighboring areas came to the Ciconians aid and unleashed their spears upon the men of Odysseus. I've read two accounts here. One is that Odysseus arrived with 3 ships and lost 18 men in this battle (six from each ship, for you non-math whizzes out there). Another is that Odysseus arrived with 12 ships and lost 70 men. Whatever the case, the result is clear. Odysseus still has no supplies and lost some stupid men. Mythic Fail.
By the way, the picture comes from an elementary school which is reading The Odyssey. Check them out at http://blogs.sch.gr/makarono/odyssey/ Their pictures are awesome! Their teacher is truly an EXTREME Elementary Teacher!
Of course, you can always get into a debate about what sort of light this puts Odysseus and his men in. One justification is that they were still at war and only were paid for their ten years of service by what they were able to plunder. Odysseus, being on the lower end of top dogs in Greece, got late pickings. Plus, Troy didn't have much left after ten years of battle. Add to that the fact that the Cicones aided the Trojans during the ten years, then you have a reason for attacking them.
This is not the only time that Cicones comes into mythology. There is this poor chap named Orpheus who was deeply in love with a young lady that died. Later in his life he passed through Cicones. Several of the women made advances toward him, but still being in love with Eurydice, he turned them down. They were not very happy and tore him apart. This would have happened prior to the Trojan Way, so maybe that is more justification for Odysseus' men for raiding this place.
If you want a great retelling of Orpheus and Eurydice, try Winged Sandals.
Next stop? Hippy Crackhead Island (or as more commonly translated, The Lotus Eaters)!
Coming late to the party? You can find all the Odyssey posts here.