Latin Ulixes, English Ulysses, hero of Homer's epic poem the Odyssey and one of the most frequently portrayed figures in Western literature. According to Homer, Odysseus was king of Ithaca, son of Laertes and Anticleia (the daughterof Autolycus of Parnassus), and father, by his wife, Penelope,of Telemachus. (In later tradition, Odysseus was the son of Sisyphus and fathered sons by Circe, Calypso, and others.)
model of the Trojan Horse
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Homer portrayed Odysseus as a man of outstanding wisdom and shrewdness, eloquence, resourcefulness, courage, and endurance. In the Iliad, Odysseus appears as the man best suited to cope with crises in personal relations among the Greeks, and he plays a leading part in achieving the reconciliation between Agamemnon and Achilles. His bravery and skill in fighting are demonstrated repeatedly, and his wiliness is shown most notably in the night expedition he undertakes with Diomedes against the Trojans.
Odysseus's wanderings and the
recovery of his house and kingdom are the central theme of the Odyssey, an epic
in 24 books that also relates how he accomplished the capture of Troy by means
of the wooden horse. Books VI–XIII describe his wanderings between Troy and
Ithaca: he first comes to the land of the Lotus-Eaters and only with
difficultyrescues some of his companions from their lōtos-induced lethargy; he
encounters and blinds Polyphemus the Cyclops, a son of Poseidon, escaping from
his cave by clinging to the belly of a ram; he loses 11 of his 12 ships to the
cannibalisticLaistrygones and reaches the island of the enchantress Circe, where
he has to rescue some of his companions whom she had turned into swine. Next he
visits the Land of Departed Spirits, where he speaks to the spirit of Agamemnon
and learns from the Theban seer Tiresias how he can expiate Poseidon's wrath. He
then encounters the Sirens, Scylla and Charybdis, and the Cattle of the Sun,
whichhis companions, despite warnings, plunder for food. He alonesurvives the
ensuing storm and reaches the idyllic island of the nymph Calypso.
After almost nine years, Odysseus finally leaves Calypso and at last arrives in Ithaca, where his wife, Penelope, and son, Telemachus, have been struggling to maintain their authority during his prolonged absence. Recognized at first only by his faithful dog and a nurse, Odysseus proves his identity—with the aid of Athena—by accomplishing Penelope's test of stringing and shooting with his old bow. He then, with the help of Telemachus, slays Penelope's suitors (see photograph). Penelope still does not believe himand gives him one further test. But at last she knows it is he and accepts him as her long-lost husband and the king of Ithaca.
Text from Encyclopedia Britannica
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