Odysseus

A Profile of the Greek Hero Odysseus (Ulysses)

Greek Art. Odysseus and the Sirens. Attic red-figured stamnos, by the Siren painter. From Vulci, c.480-470 BC. British Museum, London, UK. Leemage/ Universal Images Group/ Getty Images

Odysseus, a Greek hero, is the leading figure in the epic poem the Odyssey, attributed to Homer. He is the king of Ithaca, normally said to be the son of Laertes and Anticlea, husband of Penelope, and father of Telemachus. The Odyssey is the story of Odysseus' return home at the end of the Trojan War. Other works in the epic cycle provide further details, including his death at the hands of his and Circe's son Telegonus.

Fast Facts: Odysseus

  • Name: Odysseus; Latin: Ulysses
  • Home: Ithaca, an island of Greece
  • Parents: Father: Laertes (in the Odyssey), but possibly Sisyphus, Mother: Anticlea, daughter of Autolycus
  • Partners: Penelope; Calypso
  • Children: Telemachus; Nausithous and Nausinous; Telegonus
  • Occupation: Hero; Trojan War fighter and strategist
  • Pronunciation: o-dis'-syoos

Odysseus fought for ten years in the Trojan War before coming up with the idea of the wooden horse—just one example of why "wily" or "crafty" is attached to his name.

He incurred the wrath of Poseidon for blinding Poseidon's Cyclops son Polyphemus. In retaliation, it took Odysseus another decade before he could arrive home barely in time to drive out Penelope's suitors. The Odyssey covers a decade's worth of the adventures of Odysseus and his crew on their return to Ithaca from the Trojan War.