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ODYSSEUS
Form: the Latin equivalent is Ulixes; erroneously written Ulysses.
King of Ithaca, son of Laertes and Anticlea, daughter of Autolycus. In post-Homeric legend he is called a son of Sisyphus, borne by Anticlea before her marriage with Laertes. According to Homer, his name, "the hater," was given him by his grandfather Autolycus, because he himself had so often cherished feelings of hatred during his life [Od. xix 402]. His wife Penelope (or Penelopeia), daughter of Icarius (see OEBALUS), is said by later legends to have been obtained for him by her uncle Tyndareos in gratitude for counsel given by him. (See TYNDAREOS.) When his son Telemachus was still an infant, Agamemnon and Menelaus, as Homer tells us, prevailed on him to take part in the expedition against Troy. Their task was hard, as it had been predicted to him that it would be twenty years before he saw his wife and child again. Later writers relate that he was bound as one of Helen's suitors to take, part in the scheme, but tried to escape his obligation by feigning madness, and among other acts yoked a horse and an ox to his plough and so ploughed a field. When however Palamedes, who with Nestor and Menelaus was desirous of taking him to Troy, proceeded to place Telemachus in the furrow, he betrayed himself and had to accompany them to war. He led the men of Ithaca and the surrounding isles to Troy in twelve vessels. In contrast to the later legend, which represents him as a cowardly, deceitful and intriguing personage, he always appears in Homer among the noblest and most respected of the heroes, and, on account of his good qualities, he is the declared favourite of Athene. He combines in his person courage and determined perseverance with prudence, ingenuity, cunning and eloquence. Accordingly he is employed by preference as a negotiator and a spy. Thus, after the disembarkation, he goes with Menelaus into the enemy's city to demand the surrender of Helen. Again, he is among those who are despatched by the Greeks to reconcile with Agamemnon the enraged Achilles. With Diomedes, who delights in his company, he captures the spy Dolon and surprises Rhesus; with the same hero he is said by later legend to have stolen the Palladium from Troy. When Agamemnon faint-heartedly thinks of flight, he opposes this idea with the utmost decision. Everywhere he avails himself of the right time and the right place, and, where courage and cunning are needed, is ever the foremost. After Achilles' death, in the contest with Ajax, the son of Telamon, he receives the hero's arms as a recognition of his services, and by his ingenuity brings about the fall of Troy. Shortly before it, he steals into the city in the garb of a beggar, in order to reconnoitre everything there; he then climbs with the others into the wooden horse, and contrives to control the impatient and the timid alike until the decisive moment. His adventures during the return from Troy and on his arrival in his native country form the contents of the Odyssey of Homer. Immediately after the departure Odysseus is driven to the Thracian Ismarus, the city of the Cicones, and, though he plunders them, loses in a surprise seventy-two of his companions. When he is now desirous of rounding the south-east point of the Peloponnesus, the promontory of Malea, he is caught by the storm and carried in nine days to the coast of North Africa, on to the land of the Lotophagi (Lotus-eaters) whence he has to drag his companions by force to prevent their forgetting their homes for love of the sweet lotus food. Thence the voyage passes into the legendary world of the Western sea, then little known to the Greeks. Odysseus comes first to the country of the Cyclopes (q.v.), where, with twelve of his comrades, he is shut up in a cavern by Polyphemus. The monster has already devoured half of Odysseus' companions before the latter intoxicates him (fig. 1), deprives him of his one eye, and by his cunning escapes with his comrades. From this time the anger of Poseidon, on whom Polyphemus calls for revenge, pursues him and keeps him far from his country. On the island of Aeolus, the Keeper of the Winds (q.v.), he finds hospitable entertainment, and receives on his departure a leathern bag in which are inclosed all the winds except the western. The latter would carry him in nine days to the coast of Ithaca, but, whilst Odysseus is taking rest, his comrades open the bag, which they imagine to contain treasure, and the winds thus released carry them back to Aeolus. He orders them off from his island, regarding them as enemies of the gods. On coming to Telephylus, the city of Lamus, king Antiphates and his Loestrygones, cannibals of immense stature, shatter eleven of their vessels, and the twelfth is saved only by Odysseus' wariness. (See PAINTING, fig. 5.) On the island of Aeaea the sorceress Circe turns part of his crew into swine, but, with the help of Hermes, he compels her to restore them to their human shape and spends a whole year with her in pleasure and enjoyment. When his companions urge him to return home, Circe bids him first sail toward the farthest west, to the entrance into the lower world on the farther bank of Oceanus, and there question the shade of the seer Tiresias concerning his return. (See HADES, REALM OF.) From the latter he learns that it is the malice of Poseidon that prevents his return, but that nevertheless he will now attain his object if his comrades spare the cattle of Helios on the island of Thrinacia; otherwise it will only be after a long time, deprived of all his comrades and on a foreign shit, that he will reach his home. Odysseus then returns to the isle of Circe and sets out on his homeward voyage, supplied by her with valuable directions and a favouring wind. Passing the isles of the Sirens (q.v.) and sailing through Scylla and Charybdis (q.v.), he reaches the island of Thrinacia, where he is compelled to land by his comrades. They are there detained for a month by contrary winds; at length his comrades, overcome by hunger, in spite of the oath they have sworn to him, slaughter, during his absence, the finest of the cattle of Helios. Scarcely are they once more at sea, when a terrible storm breaks forth, and Zeus splits the ship in twain with a flash of lightning, as a penalty for the offence. All perish except Odysseus, who clings to the mast and keel, and is carried back by the waves to Scylla and Charybdis, and after nine days reaches the island of Ogygia, the abode of the nymph Calypso, daughter of Atlas. For seven years he dwells here with the nymph, who promises him immortality and eternal youth, if he will consent to remain with her and be her husband. But the yearning for his wife and home make him proof against her snares. All the day long he sits on the shore gazing through his tears across the broad sea; fain would he catch a glimpse, were it only of the rising smoke of his home, and thereafter die. So his protectress, Athene, during Poseidon's absence, prevails on Zeus in an assembly of the gods to decree his return, and to send Hermes to order Calypso to release him. Borne on a raft of his own building, he comes in eighteen days near to Scheria, the island of the Phaeacians, when Poseidon catches sight of him and shatters his raft in pieces. However, with the aid of the veil of Ino Leucothea (q.v.), he reaches land in safety and meets with Nausicaa, the king's daughter, who conducts him into the Phaeacian city before her parents Alcinous (q.v.) and Arete. He receives the most hospitable treatment, and is then brought loaded with presents by the Phaeacians on board one of their marvellous vessels to his country, which he reaches after twenty years' absence, while asleep. He arrives just in time to ward off the disaster that is threatening his house. After his mother Anticlea had died of grief for her son, and the old Laertes had retired to his country estate in mourning, more than a hundred noble youths of Ithaca and the surrounding isles had appeared as suitors for the hand of the fair and chaste Penelope, had persecuted Telemachus, who was now growing up to manhood, and were wasting the substance of the absent Odysseus. Penelope had demanded a respite from making her decision until she had finished weaving a shroud intended for her father-in-law, and every night unravelled the work of the day. In the fourth year one of her attendants betrayed the secret; she had to complete the garment, and when urged to make her decision promised to choose the man who should win in a shooting match with Odysseus bow, hoping that none of the wooers would be able even so much as to bend it. Just before the day of trial, Odysseus lands on the island disguised by Athena as a beggar. He betakes himself to the honest swineherd Eumoeus, one of the few retainers who have remained true to him, who receives his master, whom he fails to recognise, in a hospitable manner. To the same spot Athene brings Telemachus, who has returned in safety, in spite of the plots of the suitors from a journey to Nestor at Pylus and Menelaus and Helen in Sparta. Hereupon Odysseus makes himself known and, together with his son and retainer, concerts his plan of revenge. In the shape of a beggar he betakes himself to the house, where he manfully controls his anger at the arrogance of the suitors which is displayed towards himself, and his emotion on meeting Penelope. Next day the shooting match takes place. This involves shooting through the handles of twelve axes with the bow of Eurytus (q.v.), which the latter's son Iphitus had once presented to the young Odysseus. None of the suitors can bend the bow, and so Odysseus takes hold of it, and bends it in an instant, thus achieving the master-shot. Supported by Telemachus, Eumaeus, and the herdsman Philcetius, and with the aiding presence of Athens, he shoots first the insolent Antinous, and then the other suitors. He next makes himself known to Penelope, who has meanwhile fallen into a deep sleep, and visits his old father. In the meantime the relatives of the murdered suitors have taken up arms, but Athene, in the form of Mentor (q.v.) brings about a reconciliation. The only hint of Odysseus' end in Homer is in the prophecy of Tiresias, that in a calm old age a peaceful death will come upon him from the sea. In later poetry Telegonus, the son of Odysseus by Circe, is sent forth by his mother to seek out his father. He lands at Ithaca, and plunders the island: Odysseus proceeds to meet him, is wounded by him with a poisonous sting-ray, given by Circe to her son as a spear-point, and dies a painfal death, which thus comes "from the sea." On Telegonus discovering that he has killed his father, he carries the dead body home with him, together with Penelope and Telemachus, and there the latter live a life of immortality, Telemachus becoming husband of Circe, and Telegonus of Penelope. Besides Telegonus, the legend told of two sons of Odysseus by Circe, named Agrius and Latinus, who were said to have reigned over the Etruscans. Telegonus in particular was regarded by the Romans as the founder of Tusculum [Ovid, Fasti, iii 92], and Praeneste [Horace, Odes iii 29, 8]. In later times the adventures of Odysseus were transferred as a whole to the coast of Italy: the promontory of Circeii was regarded as the abode of Circe, Formiae as the city of the Laestrygones. Near Surrentum was found the island of the Sirens; near Cape Lacinium that of Calypso, while near to Sicily were the isle of Aeolus, Scylla, and Charybdis, and, on the Sicilian shore, the Cyclopes. Odysseus is generally represented as a bearded man, wearing a semi-oval cap like that of a Greek sailor. (See fig. 1.)

Pictures and Media
ODYSSEUS OFFERING WINE TO THE CYCLOPS. (Statuette in Vatican Museum, Rome.)
PENELOPE. (Ant. Denkin. 13, p. 17.)
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PLACE HOLDER FOR COUNTER
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