ODYSSEUS

Odysseus was
a legendary hero in
Greek mythology, king of the island of Ithaca and
the main protagonist of Homer’s epic, the Odyssey. He was also a prominent
character in the other surviving Homeric epic, the Iliad. He was the son
of Laertes and Anticlea,
and is well known as an eloquent speaker, ingenious and cunning.
Before
the Trojan War started, Odysseus was
one of the suitors that wanted to marry Helen,
step-daughter of king Tyndareus of Sparta.
However, the suitors were many and there didn’t seem to be a way to solve who
the husband would be. Odysseus told Tyndareus that
he would provide a solution if he helped him marry Tyndareus
niece, PenelopeTyndareus agreed
and Odysseus proposed
to draw straws. Before that, though, he made everyone swear an oath that they
would all support the husband and wife in any ill fate that they might face in
the future. As a result, Menelaus drew
the lucky straw, while Odysseus married Penelope.
After Helen‘s
abduction by Prince Paris of Troy,
all suitors were summoned to help Menelaus in
his quest to bring her back. Odysseus did
not want to join the expedition, for an oracle had informed him that if he
participated, it would take him a long time to return home. So, he decided to
feign madness by harnessing a donkey and an ox to a plough and sowing salt on a
field. Palamedes did
not believe that Odysseus was
actually mad, so he put Odysseus
baby boy Telemachus in
front of the plough; Odysseus immediately
changed course, thus exposing his plan. For this reason, Odysseus always
had a grudge against Palamedes since
then.
After Odysseus
plan was foiled, they all tried to recruit the hero Achilles,
as an oracle said that the Trojan War would
be won only if Achilles joined.
Before they reached the island of Scyros where Achilles lived,
his mother Thetis disguised
him as a woman, because of another prophecy that said Achilles would
either live a long, peaceful life, or have a glorious death while young. Odysseus made
a plan to find out who Achilles was,
among the women; he laid various weapons on a table, and Achilles was
the only one who showed real interest in them. Odysseus then
sounded a battle horn, and Achilles instinctively
picked up a weapon ready to fight. As a result, Achilles joined
in.
After the
Greeks reached Troy and
the war started, Odysseus played
a particularly influential role as a strategist and advisor. He was the main
character who maintained the morale of the Greeks in a high level, and managed
to prevent Agamemnon from
withdrawing from the war. He also managed to appease Achilles
rage when Patroclus was
slain. However, holding a grudge against Palamedes,
it seems that Odysseus played
a role in his demise; some versions say that Odysseus made
a plan to expose Palamedes as
a traitor and was stoned to death. According to another version, Odysseus and
Diomedes told Palamedes to
descend a well because of a treasure that was supposedly hidden there;
when Palamedes reached
the bottom of the well, the two men buried him inside.
Odysseus was
most famous in the war for his contribution to create the Trojan Horse, a huge
wooden horse that was supposed to be a gift to the Trojans by the retreating
Greeks. The Trojans accepted the gift joyfully and started celebrating around
it. When the night fell and everyone was drunk, the Greek warriors, who had
hidden in the hollow body of the horse, revealed themselves and slew the
Trojans, winning the war.
After
the Trojan WarOdysseus made
a ten-year journey to reach his home, Ithaca;
his adventures were recounted in the epic Odyssey. On his way home, storms
led Odysseus
ships to the island of the Cyclops Polyphemus,
who started eating the crew of the ships. Odysseus managed
to trick Polyphemus and
along with his companions, blinded the Cyclops.
Before they left, though, he did the mistake of revealing his identity to Polyphemus,
who then told his father, the god Poseidon;
this had a major impact on the hero‘s
travel, as the god sent rough seas throughout the journey.
The ships
then reached the island of the god of winds, Aeolus,
who put all winds except the west wind in a bag and gave the bag to Odysseus.
As a result, the west wind blew the ships all the way to Ithaca.
However, just before they reached the shore, Odysseus
companions took the bag of winds from Odysseus,
and thinking it contained gold, opened it and released all of the winds. The
ships were blown away from the island, back to where they had started. Aeolus did
not accept to help them again, and they left.
They went
to the island of the Laestrygonians, a cannibalistic tribe that ate all
of the crew, except that of Odysseus
ship. They quickly left the island and reached that of the witch Circe.
She turned Odysseus
companions into pigs, but Odysseus,
who had been given a magical herb by Hermes,
resisted her witchcraft. Circe fell
in love with Odysseus and
transformed the pigs back into men. After they stayed on the island for one
year, they left to continue their voyage.
They
reached the western edge of the world, where Odysseus took
advice from the spirit of the prophet Teiresias,
and later encountered his mother’s spirit, who told him that back home, his
wife Penelope was
being surrounded by potential suitors. They then returned to Circe‘s
island, who advised them on how to continue; they managed to avoid the Sirens,
as well as the monsters Scylla and Charybdis.
In the
island of Thrinacia, Odysseus disregarded
the advice of Teiresias and Circe,
and caught the cattle of the sun god HeliosHelios,
enraged, demanded that Zeus punish
them, or he would make the sun shine
in the Underworld. Zeus obliged
by causing a shipwreck in which only Odysseussurvived.
He reached the island of Ogygia, where the witch Calypso kept
him captive for seven years, before Hermes intervened
and released the hero.
Odysseus then
reached the island of the Phaeacians (the modern day island of Corfu), who
helped him reach his destination. He reached Ithaca late
at night, and he was disguised by Athena as
a beggar in order to learn what had happened during his absence. Penelope,
his wife, had just announced that she would marry the person who was able to
string his husband’s bow and then shoot an arrow through twelve axe shafts. She
knew that this was impossible to do for everyone except her husband. None of
the suitors managed to do it, but Odysseus still
in disguise completed the challenge and revealed himself; helped by his
son Telemachus,
he slew the suitors. Penelope did
not believe that it was her husband but instead a god in disguise. To believe
him, she asked him to move their bed to another room. Odysseus said
that this was impossible, as he had made the bed and knew that one of the legs
was a living olive tree.
Years
later, the son of Odysseus and CirceTelegonus,
reached adulthood and wanted to meet his father. He went to Ithaca,
but as he reached the shore, he killed some sheep as he was hungry. Odysseus went
and fought with him, not knowing who the other person was. Odysseus was
eventually killed by TelegonusTelegonus took Penelope and Telemachus to
the island of Circe,
where she made them immortal. The two sons then married each other’s mothers.
Source: Greek Mythology

HAVE YOU READ:  THE ARGONAUTS

Leave a Response