Odysseus – The Cunning Hero of Homer’s Epics

Odysseus, the legendary hero, was one of Ancient Greece’s most celebrated figures. Odysseus was well known for being an eloquent speaker, a trickster, and an astute strategist. His wit and cunning helped him achieve great success during the Trojan War. Odysseus is best known for his return to Ithaca after the war, his nostos, a story of adventure and perseverance that is detailed in Homer’s Odyssey. Let’s learn about the hero’s adventures and his arduous journey home.

Odysseus Key Facts

Name and Etymology

The name Odysseus was used during the classical period. However, you can find many different spellings of the name, including Oliseus, Oulixeus, Olysseus, and more. There are numerous possible etymologies that correspond to the various writings on the name. It could be derived from the Greek verbs:

  • ὀδύσσομαι (odussomai) = “to hate”
  • δύρομαι (oduromai) = “to lament”
  • ὄλλυμι (ollumi) = “to destroy” or “to be lost”

Homer uses most of these etymologies in various anecdotes during his recounting of the stories. In Roman mythology, the hero is known as Ulysses, which is a Latinized version of the name.

Odysseus is also known by a variety of epithets, given to him mostly by Homer. A common epithet includes πολύτροπος (polutropos) and πολυμήχανος (polumihanos), which translate as a man of many guiles of devices, denoting his cunningness and ingenuity. 

Odysseus Family and Relationships

Odysseus with his wife
Illustration de François-Louis Schmied pour “L’Odyssée” d’Homère. Paris, Compagnie des bibliophiles de l’Automobile-Club de France, 1928, volume 3, page 127.Ouvrage numérisé mis en ligne sur Gallica (bibliothèque numérique de la Bibliothèque nationale de France) le 12 août 2018 avec la mention “Domaine public”., Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Odysseus was the only son of Laertes, the king of Ithaca, and Anticlea. Anticlea was the only daughter of Autolycus, a skilled thief with the ability to transform into anything, son of God Hermes. Some accounts state that Odysseus had a young sister named Ctimene.

Odysseus married the faithful and patient Penelope, with whom he had a son named Telemachus. Odysseus’ relationship with his family was a central theme in the Odyssey, as his desire to return home and reunite with his wife and son propelled him through his perilous journey.

Throughout his laborious journey, Odysseus had relationships with other women, including the witch-goddess Circe and the nymph Calypso. Different accounts in Greek and Roman mythology describe Odysseus’s offspring with these and other women. Telegonus, Odysseus and Circe’s son, may have been responsible for the hero’s death.

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Myths about Odysseus

Odysseus’ exploits during the Trojan War and subsequent nostos, or return journey, have inspired both ancient and modern artists and writers. Homer’s epic poems, the Iliad and the Odyssey, are the primary source for the majority of these stories.

Before the War

Odysseus and Helen

Odysseus, one of the suitors for Helen, King Tyndareus’ stepdaughter, was reluctantly drawn into the contest for her hand. Odysseus, who was smitten by Penelope, Helen’s cousin, devised a clever plan to keep the suitors at peace. Odysseus secured Penelope’s hand in marriage after Menelaus was chosen as Helen’s groom by making them swear an oath to respect Tyndareus’ final decision and support the chosen couple in the face of adversity.

Odysseus and Palamedes Part 1

After marrying Penelope and settling in Ithaca, Odysseus was faced with the difficult decision of joining the expedition to rescue Helen from Troy. Fearful of a prophecy predicting a long absence if he joined the war, he pretended to be insane by plowing a field with an ox and a donkey while sowing salt. When Palamedes, who was sent to recruit him, questioned his sanity and tested him with Telemachus, Odysseus quickly revealed his plan. Odysseus held a deep grudge against Palamedes for the rest of the war as a result of his betrayal.

Odysseus and Achilles

Odysseus played an important role in recruiting Achilles for the Trojan War, knowing that victory depended on the mighty warrior joining the Greek forces. Odysseus discovered Achilles disguised as a woman on King Lycomedes’ court and cleverly exposed his identity by disguising himself as a peddler. Odysseus piqued Achilles’ interest by selling women’s clothing and strategically placing a spear among them, resulting in his participation in the war. Another account states that Odysseus had arranged for a battle horn to be sounded, prompting Achilles to reach for his weapons.

Odysseus and the Trojan War

The Wise Odysseus

In Homer’s epic poem, the Iliad, Odysseus emerges as a key figure known for his strategic prowess and counsel among the Greek champions during the Trojan War. Odysseus, like Nestor and Idomeneus, is trusted as a counselor and advisor who consistently advocates for the Achaean cause. When Agamemnon’s authority is challenged, Odysseus steps in to restore order in the Greek camp, reaffirming his support for the Achaean leader.

During critical moments in the conflict, such as Hector’s proposal for a single combat duel, Odysseus reluctantly steps forward to face his formidable foe. He also aids Diomedes in a covert mission to assassinate Rhesus, whose horses were thought to protect Troy. His diplomatic skills shine through when he advises Achilles on how to manage his emotions following Patroclus’ death, advocating for a more strategic approach to the battle rather than succumbing to rage.

Odysseus and Diomedes stealing the horses of Thracian king Rhesus they have just killed. Apulian red-figure situla, from Ruvo
Lycurgus Painter, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Odysseus’ character in the Iliad is frequently contrasted with that of Achilles, depicting him as a man of reason and restraint in contrast to Achilles’ impulsive and vengeful nature. Odysseus, the antithesis of Achilles, is renowned for his intellect, ingenuity, and eloquence, as evidenced by his role in developing the Trojan Horse and leading the diplomatic mission to persuade Achilles to rejoin the fight. Despite their differences, Odysseus and Ajax frequently find themselves at odds, demonstrating the complexities of their relationship on and off the battlefield. 

Odysseus and Palamedes Part 2

There are various accounts of Palamedes’ death, one of which implicates Odysseus. In this story, Odysseus resents Palamedes for revealing his deception and devises a plan to frame him. Odysseus tricks a Trojan captive into writing a forged letter in Palamedes’ name, with a sum of gold as a reward for betrayal. He then murders the captive, conceals the gold in Palamedes’ tent, and ensures that the incriminating letter is discovered by Agamemnon. The Greeks believe the evidence and sentence Palamedes to death by stoning.

Another version holds that Odysseus and Diomedes trick Palamedes into exploring a well under the guise of hidden treasure. Once Palamedes is at the bottom of the well, they bury him alive with stones, causing his tragic death.

Achilles’ Armor

Oinochoe, ca 520 BC, the hero of the Iliad and Ajax fighting over the armour of Achilles
Louvre Museum, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

A well-known myth about the Greek warrior involves a feud over Achilles’ armor after he dies. Hephaestus created the armor after Patroclus died in the original set, sparking a rivalry between Telamonian Ajax and Odysseus. To determine the rightful owner, both warriors addressed the Trojan captives, with Odysseus’ eloquence persuading the prisoners to his side. In another account, the Greeks voted for Odysseus.

Ajax, enraged by the verdict, cursed Odysseus, resulting in a series of tragic events. Ajax, enraged and driven insane by Athena, slaughtered a flock of sheep that he mistook for his own soldiers. When he regained consciousness, he felt ashamed for attempting to kill his own comrades, and even more so for slaughtering sheep. This eventually led to his tragic suicide, with the sword Hector had given him.

In the end, Odysseus decided to pass on Achilles’ armor to his son Neoptolemus. Despite this gesture, Ajax’s resentment of Odysseus persists even after death, as depicted in the Odyssey, where Ajax remains hostile to Odysseus during their encounter in Hades. 

The Trojan Horse

Odysseus’ greatest achievement during the Trojan War was the famous Trojan horse stratagem. Odysseus proposed building a massive wooden horse that would be disguised as a gift. Odysseus led the horse, which Epeius built. Of course, before creating the horse, Odysseus and Diomedes stole the Palladium. The Palladium was a wooden statue of Athena that guarded Troy. The two Greek warriors entered the town via a secret passage and stole the statue, rendering the city defenseless.

Odysseus (pileus hat) carrying off the palladion from Troy, with the help of Diomedes, against the resistance of Cassandra and other Trojans. Antique fresco from Pompeii.
ArchaiOptix, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Trojan Horse was subsequently created. Many Greek warriors hid inside the horse that was left outside Troy’s gates. The Greeks pretended to sail away, and the Trojans thought the horse was a gift from the gods. The Trojans wheeled the horse into the city and celebrated their victory all day. During the night, the Greeks emerged from the horse, while the others sailed back. The Trojans, drunk and defenseless, lost both the battle and the war.

Ulysses the Falsifier

The character of Odysseus, as depicted in various texts, reveals a darker and more ruthless side of the hero. The Romans despised him for being cruel to his enemies, viewing him as deceitful and villainous. One of his most chilling acts occurred after the Trojan War, when, fearing retribution, he advocated for the death of Astyanax, Hector’s young son and some accounts suggest he was directly involved in the child’s death. Furthermore, his unforgiving grudge against Palamedes drove him to devise treacherous schemes, such as fabricating false accusations and orchestrating Palamedes’ stoning. 

These ruthless actions cast Ulysses in a new light, contrasted with his cunning persona in Greek mythology, and sparked resentment and condemnation from Romans who valued honor and integrity. His devious and manipulative tendencies, as evidenced by betrayals and cruelty, distinguished him as a complex and divisive figure in ancient literature.

The Odyssey

Odysseus is better known for his long journey home than his role in the Trojan War. The “Odyssey,” Homer’s epic work, recounts all of the hero’s adventures. This return is also known as nostos. Let us investigate this tumultuous journey, following a possible map of his destinations.

Ismarus and the Cicones

Odysseus embarked from Troy with twelve ships. His misfortune begins early in his journey, when a powerful wind forces the ships to the southern coast of Thrace. That was Ismarus, the home of the Cicones, the Trojans’ allies. A battle ensues, and all Cicones are killed, with the exception of one priest, Maron. Maron, an Apollonian priest, wanted to express his gratitude to Odysseus by offering him twelve jars filled with strong wine.

Odysseus’ men, both metaphorically and literally inebriated, stayed in Thrace for far too long. The Cicones gathered reinforcements and killed six men on each of Odysseus’ ships.

The Lotus-Eaters

After being blown off course in the Peloponnese, Odysseus proceeded to the land of the Lotus-Eaters (Lotofagi). Odysseus sends three scouts to explore the area, but they never return. The Lotus-Eaters had made them eat their delicious lotus fruits. When one tasted a lotus, they stopped caring about returning home and instead stayed with them. Odysseus forced his men to board the ship and embarked on his journey.

Odysseus and Polyphemus

The third and most eventful stop is on the island of the Cyclopes, possibly Sicily. The Cyclopes were a violent one-eyed giant race of shepherds known for their crude behavior. Odysseus and twelve of his men become trapped in the cave of Cyclops Polyphemus.

Odysseus and Polyphemus (1896) by Arnold Böcklin: Odysseus and his crew escape the Cyclops Polyphemus.
Arnold Böcklin, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Polyphemus blocks the entrance to his cave, preventing the men from leaving. Then he begins eating them. After devouring six of the twelve men, Odysseus devised a cunning plan. He began talking to Polyphemus and introduced himself as Oὖτις (Outis), which means Nobody. Odysseus gets Polyphemus drunk and successfully blinds the Cyclops. Polyphemus cried out, “Nobody has blinded me!” and the other Cyclopes assumed he had gone insane.

Odysseus made a critical mistake, however. Before sailing away with the others, he told Polyphemus who he really was. Polyphemus then begged his father, Poseidon, to avenge him. With Poseidon against him, Odysseus’ journey would become even more difficult.

Odysseus and Aeolus

Odysseus and his men traveled south from the island of the Cyclopes to the island of Aeolus, the god of the winds. They stay for a month, and Aeolus, in good spirits, gathers all the winds in a sack and presents them to Odysseus, except Zephyrus, the West Wind.

The ships sail for nine days to Ithaca. As they approach the shores, his men decide to open the sack, believing it contains gold. All of the winds are released and begin to blow violently, throwing the ship back to the island of Aeolus. The Wind God, fearing that Odysseus is cursed, ignores his pleas and decides not to help him again.

The Laestrygones

Not knowing exactly where they sail, Odysseus and his men found themselves to the land of the Laestrygones or Laestrygonians, the men-eating giants who descended from Poseidon – this could either be in Sicily, Sardinia, Algeria or even Croatia. This was the most catastrophic phase of the Odyssey.

When the Laestrygones spotted Odysseus’ ships, they began throwing massive boulders from high cliffs. All the ships were destroyed but Odysseus’, since it was hidden in a cove. That sole ship and its crew set sail again.

Odysseus and Circe

The following eventful location was Aeaea, the island of Circe. Circe was a sorceress, possibly the daughter of the sun god Helios. Circe welcomes the ship and invites the crew to a feast. Half of the men join her, but while they feast, they consume one of her magical potions, which transforms them into swine.

Eurylochus, Odysseus’ second-in-command, was the only one who refused to drink, suspecting that something was wrong. He informs Odysseus, who rushes to assist his comrades, only to be stopped by Hermes, the messenger god. Hermes gives Odysseus a herb that will protect him from the sorceress’ magic and advises him on how to deal with the situation.

Circe admires the hero’s tenacity and courage and falls in love with him. She transforms the swine back into men. Odysseus and his crew spent a year on Circe’s island; some accounts mention that Circe and Odysseus had offspring from their encounter, including Telegonos.

Before the crew departs Aeaea, Circe advises Odysseus to visit Hades, where no mortal has ever gone before. She teaches him how to appease the gods, navigate the underworld safely, and communicate with the dead. He would need to speak with seer Teiresias to get useful information about his return. 

The Underworld

Odysseus and the remainder of his crew set sail for the western edge of the world (possibly Spain). He offers a sacrifice to invoke Teiresias’ spirit. The seer warns Odysseus that Poseidon’s rage against the hero, after the latter blinded Polyphemus, will be devastating. He warns him to keep his crew under control so that they do not harm the cattle of the sun God Helios. If they do, Odysseus will return home alone, in a miserable state, after many years – a prophecy that came true.

Apart from Teiresias, Odysseus encountered his mother, Anticleia. Anticleia expresses her sadness at not being able to hug her son and her pessimistic outlook on life and death. Anticleia is the one who informs Odysseus that his wife, Penelope, is surrounded by potential suitors who want her and his estate. Odysseus also meets many more heroes, including Achilles and Heracles.

Following this experience, the ship returns to Aeaea. Circe informs Odysseus of the remaining dangers he will face and how to deal with them so that he can return safely.

Odysseus and the Sirens

The hero tied to the mast as they sail passed the Sirens, Ulixes mosaic at the Bardo National Museum in Tunis, Tunisia, 2nd century AD
Ancient Roman art in the Bardo National Museum, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

On their way home, Odysseus and his crew passed by the Sirens’ land. Circe had informed the men that the Sirens were human-like sea monsters with alluring voices who led men to their deaths. Odysseus ordered his men to stuff their ears with beeswax so they wouldn’t hear the Sirens’ song. He decided to listen to their song, but he tied himself to the ship’s mast so that he could not approach the Sirens. The ship successfully avoided the creatures and continued on its course.

Scylla and Charybdis

After leaving the land of the Sirens, the ship had to go through a very narrow channel that was between two deadly creatures: Scylla, a six-headed monster, and the whirlpool Charybdis, daughter of Poseidon. 

The ships row directly between the two. While evading Charybdis, Scylla manages to get hold of the ship. She drags it by the oars, and she then eats six men. 

The Cattle of Helios

After evading Scylla and Charybdis, Odysseus and his crew make it to the land of Thrinacia. Following Circe and Teiresias’ advice, Odysseus instructs his men not to harm Helios’ cattle. They ignore him and proceed to hunt the cattle.

When Helios found out, he was furious. He approached Zeus, demanding that the men be punished. Otherwise, he would transport the sun to the underworld and shine it there. Zeus could not disregard the orders. He provoked a violent thunderstorm and caused a shipwreck. Odysseus lost all of his men and his ship.

Odysseus and Calypso

Odysseus, the only survivor of the shipwreck, washes up on the island of Ogygia. There lived the nymph Calypso. Calypso falls in love with Odysseus and imprisons him for seven years to be her lover. She offers him immortality to persuade him to stay forever, but Odysseus only wants to return to Ithaca.

Goddess Athena, Odysseus’ protector, requested that Zeus intervene. He instructed Hermes to tell Calypso to let Odysseus go. Calypso was furious with the gods and accused them of hypocrisy because they had affairs with mortals but did not like it when goddesses attempted to do the same.

Eventually, she agreed to let him go. She offered him tools and materials for building a boat, as well as food and clothing. Calypso threw wind at Odysseus’ back, and he fled the island.

The Phaeacians

Odysseus’ final stop before returning home is the island of Scheria, where the Phaeacians dwell. He participates in one of their feasts and tells them about his adventures. King Alcinous was overjoyed to have such a visitor and accompanied him home. They give Odysseus a ship and some sailors, and he returns home after twenty years.

Return to Ithaca and Penelope

Odysseus and the Phaecians arrive in Ithaca late at night. The other sailors leave him to sleep on the shore. He awakens confused, but Athena appears before him and tells him what has happened. She disguises him as a beggar, allowing him to decide when he wants to reveal his true identity.

Eumaeus and Telemachus

First, he visits Eumaeus’ hut, a loyal servant who also assisted in the care of Odysseus’ son, Telemachus. Without knowing who he is speaking to, he greets him while simultaneously praising Odysseus, unaware that he is speaking to him.

In the meantime, Telemachus returns from Sparta. The Suitors had prepared an ambush for him, but he managed to avoid it. He went directly to the Eumaeus hut. Odysseus decides to reveal his identity, and the two are reunited. They decide to visit the palace.

The Suitors

Odysseus visits his palace while dressed as a beggar. Only his dog, Argos, recognizes him. The suitors mock the man, particularly one of their leaders, Antinous, who orders him to fight another palace beggar.

Meanwhile, Athena encourages Penelope to announce that she is ready to remarry. That made Odysseus realize she had been faithful to him all along. He decided to speak with her, but he still did not reveal his true identity. He just told her that Odysseus visited Crete, so she knows he is still alive.


Eurycleia worked as a nurse and maid in the house of Laertes. She had been Odysseus’ caregiver throughout his childhood. Penelope, who had begun to care for the foreign beggar, instructed Eurycleia to wash him. While washing Odysseus’ feet, Eurycleia notices a birth scar, which leads her to speculate that the beggar is Odysseus. She tries to tell it to Penelope, but Athena stops her, keeping the secret safe.

The Contest

The next morning, Penelope announces a contest. She reveals her plan to marry the man who can win the contest by stringing Odysseus’ bow and shooting an arrow through the shafts of twelve axes. Of course, none of the suitors are able to accomplish this impossible task. However, Odysseus, a beggar, strings the bow and wins the contest. He proceeds to murder all of the suitors, as well as the serving women who had slept with them, with the assistance of Telemachus, Eumaeus, and Philoetius

Odysseus and Penelope

Athena gives Odysseus a makeover, and he now reveals himself to Penelope. Penelope still doesn’t believe him. She is afraid that he is a god in disguise and will get her in trouble, as happened to Heracles’ mother, Alcmene.

To see if the man is telling the truth, Penelope orders Eurycleia to move the bed in their wedding chamber. Odysseus then claims that this is impossible because he built the bed himself, and one of its legs is an olive tree pinned to the ground. Penelope recognizes her husband at this point, and the two of them reconcile. 

The Death of Odysseus

Many stories have discussed Odysseus’ life after the Odyssey, but they are contradictory. The most common story about Odysseus’ death is that he was killed by his own son, Telegonus.

Odysseus and Circe had a son named Telegonus. He decided to visit Ithaca in search of his father. When he got to the island, he killed a few sheep for food. Odysseus, upset that a stranger was killing his cattle, decided to confront him physically. Telegonus killed his father with a spear dipped in stingray poison.

When Telegonus discovered that he had killed his own father, he devised a plan to atone for his sin. He returned to his native Aeaea, but he also brought Penelope and Telemachus. Circe made them all immortal. In this story, Telegonus married Penelope, while Telemachus married Circe.

Depiction And Characteristics

Odysseus statue
Rabax63, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Odysseus, renowned for his intellectual prowess and strategic acumen, is a complex and multifaceted figure in Greek mythology. His intelligence and resourcefulness are his distinguishing characteristics, making him an excellent tactician and problem solver. Odysseus is a skilled negotiator and diplomat who can navigate complex situations with finesse and cleverness. In addition to his cunning, Odysseus is cruel to his enemies and those who oppose him.

Despite his admirable qualities, Odysseus is not without flaw. His cunning often borders on deception, causing him to manipulate situations to his advantage. His desire for vengeance and retribution occasionally clouds his judgment, causing him to act ruthlessly toward his enemies. Odysseus’ cruelty, particularly in his treatment of foes such as Polyphemus and Palamedes, reveals a darker side to his character that contradicts his reputation as a hero. This duality of his character, which combines brilliance and brutality, gives Odysseus depth and complexity, making him a compelling figure in Greek mythology.

All of these characteristics result in various portrayals: he is a hero to Homer, an evildoer and opportunist to Sophocles, and a devious and deceitful figure to Virgil. It all comes down to how one interprets his cunningness, whether positively or negatively. While I tend to agree with the latter, seeing Odysseus as a cruel and deceitful figure, he does have some admirable qualities, such as being an astute strategist. 

Representations Of Odysseus in Art

Odysseus is represented as a brave and powerful man. He is frequently portrayed as a handsome man with curly hair, either blond or brown. Odysseus – or Ulysses, following his Roman name – has been the object of artistic representation for centuries.

Head of Polyphemus from a Roman period Hellenistic marble group representing his blinding, found at the villa of Tiberius at Sperlonga, Italy
Jastrow, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

There are several paintings that portray Odysseus adventures during his Odyssey. Some of them include:

  • “Odysseus and His Companions Fighting the Cicones Before the City of Ismaros” by Francesco Primaticcio (1555–60),
  • “Odysseus and Polyphemus” by Arnold Böcklin (1896),
  • “Circe Offering the Cup to Ulysses” by John William Waterhouse (1891),
  • “Calypso’s Island, Departure of Ulysses” by Samuel Palmer (1848-49),
  • “Ulysses and Nausicaa” by Jean Veber (1888).

Odysseus is also depicted in multiple sculptures, including the “Blinding of Polyphemus” from the famous Sperlonga sculptures and Jean-Auguste Barre’s sculpture of Odysseus and his dog Argos.

Mentions in Ancient Texts

Greek texts

Odysseus is frequently mentioned in various ancient texts. First and foremost, we learn about his life from Homer, who portrays him as a hero. Homer’s “Iliad” recounts the hero’s war exploits and his role as a brilliant strategist. Homer’s “Odyssey” is the hero’s opus, describing Odysseus’ long and adventurous ten-year journey back to Ithaca. The text contains the majority of the information we know about his life and characteristics. 

Odysseus, like many Trojan War characters, appears, either directly or indirectly, in many tragedies by Aeschylus, Sophocles (Philoctetes, Ajax), and Euripides. However, the playwrights do not present Odysseus in the same light that Homer does. While they do not diminish Odysseus’ importance in the war, they do reveal some other, more human sides to him, such as his cruelty, manipulation, and opportunism.

Roman texts

This holds true for ancient Roman texts as well. According to Roman mythology, Ulysses was a cruel, impious, and malicious warrior. Virgil’s “Aeneid,” which focuses on the Trojan side of things, depicts the Greeks as ruthless and impious. Odysseus is not immune to this criticism; through a member of his crew that Aeneas discovers on the island of the Cyclopes, we learn that Odysseus was far more hedonistic, opportunistic, and malicious than Homer portrays him. 

On the other hand, Ovis, as always, focuses on Odysseus’ romantic exploits, including detailed accounts of his affairs with Circe and Calypso. According to Ovid, Odysseus is not forced to stay away from Penelope or held captive by these women, but rather a wandering philanderer.

Other texts

Without delving too deeply into modern literature, Odysseus/Ulysses features prominently in numerous significant works. In Dante’s Divine Comedy, the protagonist encounters Odysseus in the Eighth Circle of Hell, having committed Sins of Malice for his conspiracies during the Trojan War. Odysseus also appears in Shakespeare’s” Troilus and Cressida”.

Finally, Odysseus appears in many modern-day famous poems and novels, such as:

  • “Ulysses” by Alfred Lord Tennyson (1882),
  • “Ithaca” by C P Cavafy (1911),
  • “Ulysses” by James Joyce (1918-1920),
  • “The Odyssey: A Modern Sequel” by Nikos Kazantzakis (1938).

Frequently Asked Questions

Who was Odysseus in Greek mythology?

Odysseus, also known as Ulysses in Roman mythology, was the legendary hero and king of Ithaca. He was a key figure in the Trojan War and the protagonist of Homer’s epic poem, the Odyssey.

What are some key characteristics of Odysseus?

Odysseus is renowned for his cunning intelligence, strategic thinking, and resilience. He is a skilled diplomat, negotiator, and leader who is frequently portrayed as a complex character with both virtues and flaws.

What are some famous adventures of Odysseus on his journey back to Ithaca?

Odysseus faces a variety of challenges, including encounters with the Cyclops Polyphemus, the Sirens, Scylla and Charybdis, Circe the Witch, and Helios’ Cattle. His journey is filled with trials, temptations, and endurance tests.

How does Odysseus demonstrate cruelty in his actions?

Odysseus commits cruel acts against his enemies, such as blinding Polyphemus and playing a role in Palamedes’ demise. His manipulative behavior and willingness to resort to deception and vengeance highlight the darker aspects of his personality.

What is the significance of Odysseus’ return to Ithaca?

Odysseus’ return to Ithaca symbolizes themes of perseverance, loyalty, and a lasting bond with his family. His reunion with Penelope and Telemachus represents the triumph of perseverance, resilience, and navigating life’s challenges. His journey serves as a metaphor for life’s ups and downs, emphasizing the resilience of the human spirit and the pursuit of one’s true identity and purpose.

Featured Image Credit: Jean-Jacques François Le Barbier dit Le Barbier l’Aîné, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

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Vasiliki Moutzouri

Vasiliki has been a professional author, editor, and academic researcher since 2018. She currently lives in Athens, Greece. She has studied Philology and Computational Linguistics at the University of Athens. She is interested in literature, poetry, history and mythology, and political philosophy. Other interests include playing music, traveling, and playing pen-and-paper games. She has written a children’s book and a few poems. She is currently working as a content writer, translator, and editor, as well as an academic researcher in the field of linguistics.