Odysseus (Myths and Legends of the World)
In Greek mythology, Odysseus was a celebrated hero, best known for his role in the Trojan Warf and for his ten-year journey home after the war. Odysseus (also known as Ulysses) appears as the central character in the Odyssey, an epiclong poem about legendary or historical heroes, written in a grand style by the ancient Greek poet Homer, and he also plays a role in the Iliad, Homer's other major epic.
Early Life. Odysseus was generally said to be the son of Anticlea and of King Laertes of Ithaca. However, some stories maintain that his father was Sisyphus, founder of the city of Corinth and a cunning man who outwitted the god HadesGreek god of the underworld; brother of Zeus and husband of Persephone (Roman god Pluto). This version says that Sisyphus seduced Anticlea before her marriage to Laertes and that Odysseus inherited his cleverness from Sisyphus.
Educated by the centaurhalf-human, half-animal creature with the body of a horse and the head, chest, and arms of a human Chiron, Odysseus began to display great strength and courage at an early age. While out hunting with his uncles and his grandfather, the young hero saved the adults by killing a wild boar. Before the creature died, however, it wounded Odysseus on the leg with its sharp tusk, leaving a permanent scar.
When Odysseus reached manhood, King Laertes stepped aside and let his son rule Ithaca. Around the same time, Odysseus began thinking of marriage. Like other young rulers and heroes in Greece, he desired Helenin Greek mythology, a beautiful woman and the wife of the king of Sparta; her kidnapping by a Trojan prince led to the Trojan War, the beautiful daughter of King Tyndareus of Sparta. But Ithaca was a poor kingdom, and Odysseus had little hope of winning her. Nevertheless, he went to Sparta as a suitor.
While in Sparta, Odysseus displayed some of the cunning for which he became famous. Crowds of men had come to Sparta to seek the hand of Helen, and King Tyndareus feared what might happen when he chose one of them to marry his daughter. Odysseus advised the king to make all the suitors swear an oath to protect Helen and the man she married. The suitors agreed and thus accepted Menelaus when he was chosen to be Helen's husband. To show his gratitude, Tyndareus helped Odysseus win the hand of his niece Penelope, with...
(The entire section is 1064 words.)
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