Odysseus (/oʊˈdɪsiəs, oʊˈdɪsjuːs/; Greek: Ὀδυσσεύς,
Ὀδυσεύς [odysse͜ús]), also known by the
Ulysses (US: /juːˈlɪsiːz/, UK: /ˈjuːlɪsiːz/; Latin: Ulyssēs,
Ulixēs), is a legendary Greek king of
Ithaca and the hero of Homer's
epic poem the Odyssey.
Odysseus also plays a key role in Homer's Iliad
and other works in that same epic cycle.
Laërtes and Anticlea, husband of
Penelope and father of
Odysseus is renowned for his intellectual brilliance,
guile, and versatility (polytropos), and is thus known by the epithet
Odysseus the Cunning (mētis, or "cunning intelligence"). He is most
famous for his nostos or “homecoming”, which took him ten eventful
years after the decade-long Trojan War.
1 Name, etymology and epithets
3 Before the Trojan War
4 During the Trojan War
4.1 The Iliad
4.2 Other stories from the Trojan War
4.3 The “cruel, deceitful Ulixes” of the Romans
5 Journey home to Ithaca
6 Other stories
6.2 Middle Ages and Renaissance
6.3 Modern literature
6.4 Television and film
6.6 Comparative mythology
8 See also
11 External links
Name, etymology and epithets
In Greek the name was used in various versions. Vase inscriptions have
the two groups of Olyseus (Ὀλυσεύς), Olysseus
(Ὀλυσσεύς) or Ōlysseus (Ὠλυσσεύς), and Olyteus
(Ὀλυτεύς) or Olytteus (Ὀλυττεύς). Probably from an
early source from
Magna Graecia dates the form Oulixēs
(Οὐλίξης), while a later grammarian has Oulixeus
Latin the figure was known as Ulixēs or
(considered less correct) Ulyssēs. Some have supposed that "there may
originally have been two separate figures, one called something like
Odysseus, the other something like Ulixes, who were combined into one
complex personality." However, the change between d and l is common
also in some Indo-European and Greek names, and the
Latin form is
supposed to be derived from the Etruscan Uthuze (see below), which
perhaps accounts for some of the phonetic innovations.
The etymology of the name is unknown. Ancient authors linked the name
to the Greek verbs odussomai (ὀδύσσομαι) “to be wroth
against, to hate”, to oduromai (ὀδύρομαι) “to lament,
bewail”, or even to ollumi (ὄλλυμι) “to perish, to be
Homer relates it to various forms of this verb in
references and puns. In Book 19 of the Odyssey, where Odysseus' early
childhood is recounted,
Euryclea asks the boy's grandfather Autolycus
to name him.
Euryclea seems to suggest a name like Polyaretos, "for he
has much been prayed for" (πολυάρητος) but Autolycus
"apparently in a sardonic mood" decided to give the child another name
commemorative of "his own experience in life": "Since I have been
angered (ὀδυσσάμενος odyssamenos) with many, both men and
women, let the name of the child be Odysseus".
receives the patronymic epithet Laertiades (Λαερτιάδης),
"son of Laërtes". In the
Odyssey there are several further
epithets used to describe Odysseus.
It has also been suggested that the name is of non-Greek origin,
possibly not even Indo-European, with an unknown etymology. Robert
S. P. Beekes has suggested a
Pre-Greek origin. In Etruscan
religion the name (and stories) of
Odysseus were adopted under the
name Uthuze (Uθuze), which has been interpreted as a parallel
borrowing from a preceding Minoan form of the name (possibly *Oduze,
pronounced /'ot͡θut͡se/); this theory is supposed to explain also
the insecurity of the phonologies (d or l), since the affricate
/t͡θ/, unknown to the Greek of that time, gave rise to different
counterparts (i. e. δ or λ in Greek, θ in Etruscan).
Relatively little is given of Odysseus' background other than that
according to Pseudo-Apollodorus, his paternal grandfather or
step-grandfather is Arcesius, son of
Cephalus and grandson of Aeolus,
while his maternal grandfather is the thief Autolycus, son of
Hermes and Chione. Hence,
Odysseus was the great-grandson of the
Olympian god Hermes.
According to the
Iliad and Odyssey, his father is Laertes and his
mother Anticlea, although there was a non-Homeric tradition
Sisyphus was his true father. The rumour went that Laërtes
Odysseus from the conniving king.
Odysseus is said to have
a younger sister, Ctimene, who went to Same to be married and is
mentioned by the swineherd Eumaeus, whom she grew up alongside, in
book 15 of the Odyssey.
Before the Trojan War
The majority of sources for Odysseus' pre-war exploits—principally
the mythographers Pseudo-Apollodorus and Hyginus—postdate
many centuries. Two stories in particular are well known:
When Helen is abducted,
Menelaus calls upon the other suitors to
honour their oaths and help him to retrieve her, an attempt that leads
to the Trojan War.
Odysseus tries to avoid it by feigning lunacy, as
an oracle had prophesied a long-delayed return home for him if he
went. He hooks a donkey and an ox to his plow (as they have different
stride lengths, hindering the efficiency of the plow) and (some modern
sources add) starts sowing his fields with salt. Palamedes, at the
behest of Menelaus' brother Agamemnon, seeks to disprove Odysseus'
madness and places Telemachus, Odysseus' infant son, in front of the
Odysseus veers the plow away from his son, thus exposing his
Odysseus holds a grudge against Palamedes during the
war for dragging him away from his home.
Odysseus and other envoys of
Agamemnon travel to
Scyros to recruit
Achilles because of a prophecy that Troy could not be taken without
him. By most accounts, Thetis, Achilles' mother, disguises the youth
as a woman to hide him from the recruiters because an oracle had
Achilles would either live a long uneventful life or
achieve everlasting glory while dying young.
discovers which among the women before him is
Achilles when the youth
is the only one of them to show interest in examining the weapons
hidden among an array of adornment gifts for the daughters of their
Odysseus arranges further for the sounding of a battle horn,
Achilles to clutch a weapon and show his trained
disposition. With his disguise foiled, he is exposed and joins
Agamemnon's call to arms among the Hellenes.
During the Trojan War
Main article: Iliad
Menelaus and Meriones lifting Patroclus' corpse on a cart while
Odysseus looks on, Etruscan alabaster urn from Volterra, 2nd century
Odysseus is one of the most influential Greek champions during the
Trojan War. Along with Nestor and
Idomeneus he is one of the most
trusted counsellors and advisors. He always champions the Achaean
cause, especially when the king is in question, as in one instance
Thersites speaks against him. When Agamemnon, to test the morale
of the Achaeans, announces his intentions to depart Troy, Odysseus
restores order to the Greek camp. Later on, after many of the
heroes leave the battlefield due to injuries (including
Odysseus once again persuades
Agamemnon not to withdraw.
Along with two other envoys, he is chosen in the failed embassy to try
Achilles to return to combat.
Hector proposes a single combat duel,
Odysseus is one of the
Danaans who reluctantly volunteered to battle him. Telamonian Ajax,
however, is the volunteer who eventually fights Hector.
Diomedes during the night operations to kill Rhesus, because it had
been foretold that if his horses drank from the Scamander River, Troy
could not be taken.
Patroclus is slain, it is
Odysseus who counsels
Achilles to let
the Achaean men eat and rest rather than follow his rage-driven desire
to go back on the offensive—and kill Trojans—immediately.
Eventually (and reluctantly), he consents. During the funeral games
Odysseus becomes involved in a wrestling match and foot
race with Ajax "The Lesser," son of Oileus. With the help of the
goddess Athena, who favored him, and despite Apollo's helping another
of the competitors, he wins the race and draws the wrestling match, to
the surprise of all.
Odysseus has traditionally been viewed as Achilles' antithesis in the
Iliad: while Achilles' anger is all-consuming and of a
Odysseus is frequently viewed as a man of the
mean, a voice of reason, renowned for his self-restraint and
diplomatic skills. He is also in some respects antithetical to
Telamonian Ajax (Shakespeare's "beef-witted" Ajax): while the latter
has only brawn to recommend him,
Odysseus is not only ingenious (as
evidenced by his idea for the Trojan Horse), but an eloquent speaker,
a skill perhaps best demonstrated in the embassy to
Achilles in book 9
of the Iliad. The two are not only foils in the abstract but often
opposed in practice since they have many duels and run-ins.
Other stories from the Trojan War
Part of a
Roman mosaic depicting
Odysseus at Skyros unveiling the
disguised Achilles, from La Olmeda, Pedrosa de la Vega, Spain,
around 500 AD
Since a prophecy suggested that the
Trojan War would not be won
Odysseus and several other Achaean leaders went to
Skyros to find him.
Achilles by offering gifts,
adornments and musical instruments as well as weapons, to the king's
daughters, and then having his companions imitate the noises of an
enemy's attack on the island (most notably, making a blast of a
trumpet heard), which prompted
Achilles to reveal himself by picking a
weapon to fight back, and together they departed for the Trojan
The story of the death of Palamedes has many versions. According to
Odysseus never forgives Palamedes for unmasking his feigned
madness and plays a part in his downfall. One tradition says Odysseus
convinces a Trojan captive to write a letter pretending to be from
Palamedes. A sum of gold is mentioned to have been sent as a reward
for Palamedes' treachery.
Odysseus then kills the prisoner and hides
the gold in Palamedes' tent. He ensures that the letter is found and
acquired by Agamemnon, and also gives hints directing the Argives to
the gold. This is evidence enough for the Greeks, and they have
Palamedes stoned to death. Other sources say that
Diomedes goad Palamedes into descending a well with the prospect of
treasure being at the bottom. When Palamedes reaches the bottom, the
two proceed to bury him with stones, killing him.
Achilles is slain in battle by Paris, it is
Telamonian Ajax who retrieve the fallen warrior's body and armour in
the thick of heavy fighting. During the funeral games for Achilles,
Odysseus competes once again with Telamonian Ajax.
Thetis says that
the arms of
Achilles will go to the bravest of the Greeks, but only
these two warriors dare lay claim to that title. The two Argives
became embroiled in a heavy dispute about one another's merits to
receive the reward. The
Greeks dither out of fear in deciding a
winner, because they did not want to insult one and have him abandon
the war effort. Nestor suggests that they allow the captive Trojans
decide the winner. The accounts of the
suggesting that the
Greeks themselves hold a secret vote. In any
Odysseus is the winner. Enraged and humiliated, Ajax is driven
mad by Athena. When he returns to his senses, in shame at how he has
slaughtered livestock in his madness, Ajax kills himself by the sword
Hector had given him after their duel.
Together with Diomedes,
Odysseus fetches Achilles' son, Pyrrhus, to
come to the aid of the Achaeans, because an oracle had stated that
Troy could not be taken without him. A great warrior, Pyrrhus is also
Neoptolemus (Greek for "new warrior"). Upon the success of the
Odysseus gives Achilles' armour to him.
It is learned that the war can not be won without the poisonous arrows
of Heracles, which are owned by the abandoned Philoctetes. Odysseus
Diomedes (or, according to some accounts,
Neoptolemus) leave to retrieve them. Upon their arrival, Philoctetes
(still suffering from the wound) is seen still to be enraged at the
Danaans, especially at Odysseus, for abandoning him. Although his
first instinct is to shoot Odysseus, his anger is eventually diffused
by Odysseus' persuasive powers and the influence of the gods. Odysseus
returns to the Argive camp with
Philoctetes and his arrows.
Perhaps Odysseus' most famous contribution to the Greek war effort is
devising the strategem of the Trojan Horse, which allows the Greek
army to sneak into Troy under cover of darkness. It is built by Epeius
and filled with Greek warriors, led by Odysseus.
Diomedes steal the Palladium that lay within Troy's walls, for the
Greeks were told they could not sack the city without it. Some late
Roman sources indicate that
Odysseus schemed to kill his partner on
the way back, but
Diomedes thwarts this attempt.
The “cruel, deceitful Ulixes” of the Romans
Odysseus as a culture hero, but the
Romans, who believed themselves the heirs of Prince
Aeneas of Troy,
considered him a villainous falsifier. In Virgil's Aeneid, written
between 29 and 19 BC, he is constantly referred to as "cruel Odysseus"
Latin dirus Ulixes) or "deceitful Odysseus" (pellacis, fandi fictor).
Turnus, in Aeneid, book 9, reproaches the Trojan Ascanius with images
of rugged, forthright
Latin virtues, declaring (in John Dryden's
translation), "You shall not find the sons of Atreus here, nor need
the frauds of sly Ulysses fear." While the
Greeks admired his cunning
and deceit, these qualities did not recommend themselves to the
Romans, who possessed a rigid sense of honour. In Euripides' tragedy
Iphigenia at Aulis, having convinced
Agamemnon to consent to the
sacrifice of his daughter, Iphigenia, to appease the goddess Artemis,
Odysseus facilitates the immolation by telling Iphigenia's mother,
Clytemnestra, that the girl is to be wed to Achilles. Odysseus'
attempts to avoid his sacred oath to defend
Menelaus and Helen
offended Roman notions of duty, and the many stratagems and tricks
that he employed to get his way offended Roman notions of honour.
Journey home to Ithaca
Main article: Odyssey
Odysseus is probably best known as the eponymous hero of the Odyssey.
This epic describes his travails, which lasted for 10 years, as he
tries to return home after the
Trojan War and reassert his place as
rightful king of Ithaca.
Polyphemus (1896) by Arnold Böcklin:
Odysseus and his
crew escape the cyclops Polyphemus.
On the way home from Troy, after a raid on Ismarus in the land of the
Cicones, he and his twelve ships are driven off course by storms. They
visit the lethargic Lotus-Eaters and are captured by the Cyclops
Polyphemus while visiting his island. After
Polyphemus eats several of
Odysseus have a discussion and
Polyphemus his name is "Nobody".
Odysseus takes a barrel of wine, and
Cyclops drinks it, falling asleep.
Odysseus and his men take a
wooden stake, ignite it with the remaining wine, and blind him. While
Polyphemus cries in pain, and the other Cyclopes ask him
what the matter is.
Polyphemus cries, "Nobody has blinded me!" and the
other Cyclopes think he has gone mad.
Odysseus and his crew escape,
Odysseus rashly reveals his real name, and
Polyphemus prays to
Poseidon, his father, to take revenge. They stay with Aeolus, the
master of the winds, who gives
Odysseus a leather bag containing all
the winds, except the west wind, a gift that should have ensured a
safe return home. However, the sailors foolishly open the bag while
Odysseus sleeps, thinking that it contains gold. All of the winds fly
out, and the resulting storm drives the ships back the way they had
come, just as
Ithaca comes into sight.
After pleading in vain with
Aeolus to help them again, they re-embark
and encounter the cannibalistic Laestrygonians. Odysseus' ship is the
only one to escape. He sails on and visits the witch-goddess Circe.
She turns half of his men into swine after feeding them cheese and
Circe and gives him a drug called
moly, which resists Circe's magic. Circe, being attracted to Odysseus'
resistance, falls in love with him and releases his men.
his crew remain with her on the island for one year, while they feast
and drink. Finally, Odysseus' men convince him to leave for Ithaca.
Guided by Circe's instructions,
Odysseus and his crew cross the ocean
and reach a harbor at the western edge of the world, where Odysseus
sacrifices to the dead and summons the spirit of the old prophet
Tiresias for advice. Next
Odysseus meets the spirit of his own mother,
who had died of grief during his long absence. From her, he learns for
the first time news of his own household, threatened by the greed of
Odysseus also talks to his fallen war comrades and
the mortal shade of Heracles.
Odysseus and the Sirens,
Ulixes mosaic at the
Bardo National Museum in
Tunis, Tunisia, 2nd century AD
Odysseus' ship passing between the six-headed monster
Scylla and the
whirlpool Charybdis, from a fresco by
Alessandro Allori (1535–1607)
Returning to Circe's island, she advises them on the remaining stages
of the journey. They skirt the land of the Sirens, pass between the
Scylla and the whirlpool Charybdis, where they row
directly between the two. However,
Scylla drags the boat towards her
by grabbing the oars and eats six men.
They land on the island of Thrinacia. There, Odysseus' men ignore the
Circe and hunt down the sacred cattle of the
sun god Helios.
Zeus what happened and demands Odysseus'
men be punished or else he will take the sun and shine it in the
Zeus fulfills Helios' demands by causing a shipwreck
during a thunderstorm in which all but
Odysseus drown. He washes
ashore on the island of Ogygia, where Calypso compels him to remain as
her lover for seven years. He finally escapes when
Calypso to release Odysseus.
Odysseus departs from the Land of the Phaeacians, painting by Claude
Odysseus is shipwrecked and befriended by the Phaeacians. After
telling them his story, the Phaeacians, led by King Alcinous, agree to
Odysseus get home. They deliver him at night, while he is fast
asleep, to a hidden harbor on Ithaca. He finds his way to the hut of
one of his own former slaves, the swineherd Eumaeus, and also meets up
Telemachus returning from Sparta.
Odysseus as a
wandering beggar to learn how things stand in his household.
The return of Ulysses, illustration by E. M. Synge from the 1909 Story
of the World children's book series (book 1: On the shores of Great
When the disguised
Odysseus returns after 20 years, he is recognized
only by his faithful dog, Argos.
Penelope announces in her long
interview with the disguised hero that whoever can string Odysseus'
rigid bow and shoot an arrow through twelve axe shafts may have her
hand. According to Bernard Knox, "For the plot of the Odyssey, of
course, her decision is the turning point, the move that makes
possible the long-predicted triumph of the returning hero".
Odysseus' identity is discovered by the housekeeper, Eurycleia, as she
is washing his feet and discovers an old scar
Odysseus received during
a boar hunt.
Odysseus swears her to secrecy, threatening to kill her
if she tells anyone.
When the contest of the bow begins, none of the suitors is able to
string the bow of
Apollo but then, after all the suitors have given
up, the disguised
Odysseus comes along, bends the bow, shoots the
arrow, and wins the contest. Having done so, he proceeds to slaughter
the suitors (beginning with Antinous whom he finds drinking from
Odysseus' cup) with help from
Telemachus and two of Odysseus'
Eumaeus the swineherd and
Philoetius the cowherd. Odysseus
tells the serving women who slept with the suitors to clean up the
mess of corpses and then has those women hanged in terror. He tells
Telemachus that he will replenish his stocks by raiding nearby
Odysseus has now revealed himself in all his glory (with a
little makeover by Athena); yet
Penelope cannot believe that her
husband has really returned—she fears that it is perhaps some god in
disguise, as in the story of
Alcmene (mother of Heracles) —and tests
him by ordering her servant
Euryclea to move the bed in their
Odysseus protests that this cannot be done since he
made the bed himself and knows that one of its legs is a living olive
Penelope finally accepts that he truly is her husband, a moment
that highlights their homophrosýnē (“like-mindedness”).
The next day
Telemachus visit the country farm of his old
father Laërtes. The citizens of
Odysseus on the road,
planning to avenge the killing of the Suitors, their sons. The goddess
Athena intervenes and persuades both sides to make peace.
Odysseus is one of the most recurrent characters in Western culture.
According to some late sources, most of them purely genealogical,
Odysseus had many other children besides Telemachus, the most famous
Poliporthes (born after Odysseus' return from Troy)
with Circe: Telegonus, Ardeas, Latinus
with Calypso: Nausithous, Nausinous
with Callidice: Polypoetes
with Euippe: Euryalus
with daughter of Thoas: Leontophonus
Most such genealogies aimed to link
Odysseus with the foundation of
many Italic cities in remote antiquity.
He figures in the end of the story of King
Telephus of Mysia.
The supposed last poem in the
Epic Cycle is called the
Telegony and is
thought to tell the story of Odysseus' last voyage, and of his death
at the hands of Telegonus, his son with Circe. The poem, like the
others of the cycle, is "lost" in that no authentic version has been
In 5th century BC Athens, tales of the
Trojan War were popular
subjects for tragedies.
Odysseus figures centrally or indirectly in a
number of the extant plays by Aeschylus,
Sophocles (Ajax, Philoctetes)
and Euripides, (Hecuba, Rhesus, Cyclops) and figured in still more
that have not survived. In his Ajax,
Odysseus as a
modern voice of reasoning compared to the title character's rigid
Plato in his dialogue
Hippias Minor examines a literary question about
Homer intended to portray as the better man,
As Ulysses, he is mentioned regularly in Virgil's
between 29 and 19 BC, and the poem's hero, Aeneas, rescues one of
Ulysses' crew members who was left behind on the island of the
Cyclops. He in turn offers a first-person account of some of the same
Homer relates, in which Ulysses appears directly. Virgil's
Ulysses typifies his view of the Greeks: he is cunning but impious,
and ultimately malicious and hedonistic.
Ovid retells parts of Ulysses' journeys, focusing on his romantic
Circe and Calypso, and recasts him as, in Harold
Bloom's phrase, "one of the great wandering womanizers."
gives a detailed account of the contest between Ulysses and Ajax for
the armour of Achilles.
Greek legend tells of Ulysses as the founder of Lisbon, Portugal,
calling it Ulisipo or Ulisseya, during his twenty-year errand on the
Mediterranean and Atlantic seas.
Olisipo was Lisbon's name in the
Roman Empire. This folk etymology is recounted by
Strabo based on
Asclepiades of Myrleia's words, by Pomponius Mela, by Gaius Julius
Solinus (3rd century AD), and will be resumed by
Camões in his epic
Os Lusíadas (first printed in 1572).
Middle Ages and Renaissance
Dante Alighieri, in the
Canto XXVI of the Inferno segment of his
Divine Comedy (1308–1320), encounters
Odysseus ("Ulisse" in Italian)
near the very bottom of Hell: with Diomedes, he walks wrapped in flame
in the eighth ring (Counselors of Fraud) of the Eighth Circle (Sins of
Malice), as punishment for his schemes and conspiracies that won the
Trojan War. In a famous passage, Dante has
Odysseus relate a different
version of his voyage and death from the one told by Homer. He tells
how he set out with his men from Circe's island for a journey of
exploration to sail beyond the
Pillars of Hercules
Pillars of Hercules and into the
Western sea to find what adventures awaited them. Men, says Ulisse,
are not made to live like brutes, but to follow virtue and
After travelling west and south for five months, they see in the
distance a great mountain rising from the sea (this is Purgatory, in
Dante's cosmology) before a storm sinks them. Dante does not have
access to the original Greek texts of the Homeric epics, so his
knowledge of their subject-matter was based only on information from
later sources, chiefly Virgil's
Aeneid but also Ovid; hence the
discrepancy between Dante and Homer.
He appears in Shakespeare's
Troilus and Cressida
Troilus and Cressida (1602), set during
the Trojan War.
The bay of
Corfu as seen from Bella vista of
Corfu is considered to be the mythical island of the
Phaeacians. The bay of
Palaiokastritsa is considered to be the place
Odysseus disembarked and met
Nausicaa for the first time. The
rock in the sea visible near the horizon at the top centre-left of the
picture is considered by the locals to be the mythical petrified ship
of Odysseus. The side of the rock toward the mainland is curved in
such a way as to resemble the extended sail of a trireme.
Alfred, Lord Tennyson's poem "Ulysses" (published in 1842) presents an
aging king who has seen too much of the world to be happy sitting on a
throne idling his days away. Leaving the task of civilizing his people
to his son, he gathers together a band of old comrades "to sail beyond
Frederick Rolfe's The Weird of the Wanderer (1912) has the hero
Nicholas Crabbe (based on the author) travelling back in time,
discovering that he is the reincarnation of Odysseus, marrying Helen,
being deified and ending up as one of the three Magi.
James Joyce's novel Ulysses (first published 1918–1920) uses modern
literary devices to narrate a single day in the life of a Dublin
businessman named Leopold Bloom. Bloom's day turns out to bear many
elaborate parallels to Odysseus' ten years of wandering.
In Virginia Woolf's response novel
Mrs Dalloway (1925) the comparable
character is Clarisse Dalloway, who also appears in The Voyage Out
(1915) and several short stories.
Nikos Kazantzakis' The Odyssey: A Modern Sequel (1938), a 33,333 line
epic poem, begins with
Odysseus cleansing his body of the blood of
Odysseus soon leaves
Ithaca in search of new
adventures. Before his death he abducts Helen, incites revolutions in
Crete and Egypt, communes with God, and meets representatives of such
famous historical and literary figures as Vladimir Lenin, Don Quixote
Ithaca (1946) by
Eyvind Johnson is a more realistic
retelling of the events that adds a deeper psychological study of the
characters of Odysseus, Penelope, and Telemachus. Thematically, it
uses Odysseus' backstory and struggle as a metaphor for dealing with
the aftermath of war (the novel being written immediately after the
end of the Second World War).
Odysseus is the hero of The Luck of Troy (1961) by Roger Lancelyn
Green, whose title refers to the theft of the Palladium.
In 1986, Irish poet
Eilean Ni Chuilleanain published "The Second
Voyage", a poem in which she makes use of the story of Odysseus.
In S. M. Stirling's
Island in the Sea of Time (1998), first part to
Nantucket series of alternate history novels, Odikweos ("Odysseus"
in Mycenaean Greek) is a 'historical' figure who is every bit as
cunning as his legendary self and is one of the few Bronze Age
inhabitants who discerns the time-travellers' real background.
Odikweos first aids William Walker's rise to power in
Achaea and later
helps bring Walker down after seeing his homeland turn into a police
The Penelopiad (2005) by
Margaret Atwood retells his story from the
point of view of his wife Penelope.
The literary theorist
Núria Perpinyà conceived twenty different
interpretations of the
Odyssey in a 2008 study.
Television and film
The actors who have portrayed
Odysseus in feature films include Kirk
Douglas in the Italian Ulysses (1955),
John Drew Barrymore
John Drew Barrymore in The
Trojan Horse (1961),
Piero Lulli in The Fury of
Achilles (1962), and
Sean Bean in Troy (2004).
In TV miniseries he has been played by Bekim Fehmiu,
and by Armand Assante, The
Ulysses 31 is a French-Japanese animated television series (1981) that
Greek mythology of
Odysseus to the 31st century.
Joel and Ethan Coen's film
O Brother Where Art Thou? (2000) is loosely
based on the Odyssey. However, the Coens have stated that they had
never read the epic.
George Clooney plays Ulysses Everett McGill,
leading a group of escapees from a chain gang through an adventure in
search of the proceeds of an armoured truck heist. On their voyage,
the gang encounter—amongst other characters—a trio of Sirens and a
one-eyed bible salesman.
Odysseus is also a character in David Gemmell's Troy trilogy
(2005–2007), in which he is a good friend and mentor of Helikaon. He
is known as the ugly king of Ithaka. His marriage with
arranged, but they grew to love each other. He is also a famous
storyteller, known to exaggerate his stories and heralded as the
greatest storyteller of his age. This is used as a plot device to
explain the origins of such myths as those of
Circe and the Gorgons.
In the series, he is fairly old and an unwilling ally of Agamemnon.
The British group Cream recorded the song "Tales of Brave Ulysses" in
1967. Suzanne Vega's song "Calypso" from 1987 album Solitude Standing
Odysseus from Calypso's point of view, and tells the tale of him
coming to the island and his leaving.
Over time, comparisons between
Odysseus and other heroes of different
mythologies and religions have been made.
A similar story exists in
Hindu mythology with
Nala and Damayanti
Nala separates from
Damayanti and is reunited with her. The
story of stringing a bow is similar to the description in
Rama stringing the bow to win Sita's hand in marriage.
Aeneid tells the story of
Aeneas and his travels to what would
become Rome. On his journey he also endures strife comparable to that
of Odysseus. However, the motives for both of their journeys differ as
Aeneas was driven by this sense of duty granted to him by the Gods
that he must abide by. He also kept in mind the future of his people,
fitting for the future Father of Rome.
Prince Odysseas-Kimon of
Greece and Denmark (born 2004), is the
grandson of the deposed Greek king, Constantine II.
^ Entry “Ὀδυσσεύς” at Henry George Liddell and Robert
Scott, A Greek–English Lexicon, 1940.
^ Stanford, William Bedell (1968). The Ulysses theme. A Study in the
Adaptability of a Traditional Hero. New York: Spring Publications.
^ See the entry “Ἀχιλλεύς” in Wiktionary; cfr. Greek
δάκρυ, dákru, vs.
Latin lacrima “tear”.
^ Entry “ὀδύσσομαι” in Liddell and Scott, A
^ Entry “ὀδύρομαι” in Liddell and Scott, A
^ Helmut van Thiel, ed. (2009). Homers Odysseen. Berlin: Lit.
^ Entry “ὄλλυμι” in Liddell and Scott, A Greek–English
^ Marcy George-Kokkinaki (2008). Literary Anthroponymy: Decoding the
Characters in Homer's
Odyssey (PDF). 4. Antrocom. pp. 145–157.
Retrieved 4 May 2017.
^ Stanford, William Bedell (1968). The Ulysses theme.
^ Dihle, Albrecht (1994). A History of Greek Literature. From
the Hellenistic Period. Translated by Clare Krojzl. London and New
York: Routledge. p. 19. ISBN 978-0-415-08620-2. Retrieved 4
^ Robert S. P. Beekes, Etymological Dictionary of Greek, Brill, Leiden
2009, p. 1048.
^ Glen Gordon, A
Pre-Greek name for Odysseus, published at Paleoglot.
Ancient languages. Ancient civilizations. Retrieved 4 May 2017.
^ Apollodorus, Bibliotheca Library 1.9.16
Homer does not list
Laërtes as one of the Argonauts.
Scholium on Sophocles' Aiax 190, noted in Karl Kerényi, The Heroes
of the Greeks, 1959:77.
^ “Spread by the powerful kings, // And by the child of the infamous
Sisyphid line” (κλέπτουσι μύθους οἱ μεγάλοι
βασιλῆς // ἢ τᾶς ἀσώτου Σισυφιδᾶν
γενεᾶς): Chorus in Ajax 189–190, translated by R. C.
^ "A so-called 'Homeric' drinking-cup shows pretty undisguisedly
Sisyphos in the bed-chamber of his host's daughter, the arch-rogue
sitting on the bed and the girl with her spindle." The Heroes of the
^ “Sold by his father Sisyphus” (οὐδ᾽ οὑμπολητὸς
translated by Thomas Francklin.
^ "Women in Homer's Odyssey". Records.viu.ca. 16 September 1997.
Retrieved 25 September 2011.
^ Hyginus, Fabulae 95. Cf. Apollodorus, Epitome 3.7.
^ Hyginus, Fabulae 96.
^ D. Gary Miller (2014 ), Ancient Greek Dialects and Early Authors, De
Gruyter ISBN 978-1-61451-493-0. pp. 120-121
^ Documentation on the "Villa romana de Olmeda", displaying a
photograph of the whole mosaic, entitled "Aquiles en el gineceo de
Achilles in Lycomedes' 'seraglio').
^ Achilleid, book 1.
^ Apollodorus, Epitome 3.8;
^ Sophocles, Ajax 662, 865.
^ Apollodorus, Epitome 5.8.
^ See, e.g.,
Odyssey 8.493; Apollodorus, Epitome 5.14–15.
Bernard Knox (1996): Introduction to Robert Fagles' translation of
The Odyssey, p. 55.
^ Dante, Divine Comedy, canto 26: “fatti non-foste a viver come
bruti / ma per seguir virtute e conoscenza”.
Núria Perpinyà (2008): The Crypts of Criticism: Twenty Readings of
Odyssey (Spanish original: Las criptas de la crítica: veinte
lecturas de la Odisea, Madrid, Gredos).
Ulysses 31 webpage
^ Wendy Doniger (1999). Splitting the difference: gender and myth in
Greece and India. University of Chicago Press.
ISBN 978-0-226-15641-5. pp. 157ff
^ Harry Fokkens; et al. (2008). "Bracers or bracelets? About the
functionality and meaning of Bell Beaker wrist-guards". Proceedings of
the Prehistoric Society. University of Leiden. 74. p. 122.
Vasil S. Tole (2005).
Odyssey and Sirens: A Temptation towards the
Mystery of the Iso-polyphonic Regions of Epirus. A Homeric theme with
variations. Tirana, Albania. ISBN 99943-31-63-9.
Robert Bittlestone; James Diggle; John Underhill (2005). Odysseus
Unbound: The Search for Homer’s Ithaca. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge
University Press. ISBN 0-521-85357-5.
Ernle Bradford (1963). Ulysses Found. Hodder and Stoughton.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Odysseus.
"Archaeological discovery in
Greece may be the tomb of Odysseus" from
the Madera Tribune
Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Odysseus". Encyclopædia Britannica
(11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
Characters in the Iliad
Ajax the Greater
Ajax the Lesser
Balius and Xanthus
Mygdon of Phrygia
Rhesus of Thrace
Characters in the Odyssey
House of Odysseus
Eurycleia (chief servant)
Monarchs and royals
Alcinous of Phaeacia
Arete of Phaeacia
Nestor of Pylos
Menelaus of Sparta
Nausicaa of Phaeacia
Agamemnon of Mycenae
Old Man of the Sea
Scylla and Charybdis