The ruler of Ithaca, Odysseus is one of the many Greek heroes in The Iliad. The Iliad showcases the strengths and weaknesses of each of the Greek heroes, but Odysseus shines above the others because of his cleverness. At the climax of the war, when both sides have lost heroes and suffered great losses, Odysseus offers an end to the stalemate. Odysseus's plan, to send the fleet away and to leave the wooden horse as a gift to the Trojans, finally brings the ten-year war to an end with a Greek victory. Odysseus believed rightly that the Trojans would bring the gift into the city. Odysseus and his hand-picked Greek soldiers opened the gates to allow the Greek army, which had returned, to conquer the city.
Odysseus is a new type of hero in Greek stories. His gift of intellect sets him apart from the other Greeks who prize athletic and military prowess, as seen in Achilles and Agamemnon. Odysseus is also the champion who speaks for Greece as a whole—though at the time, Greece was little more than a collection of rival cities. Odysseus sees Greece as something greater, an ideal worth setting aside the petty squabbles of the rival kings. It is this same cunning and cleverness that allowed a later generation of Greek leaders to achieve victories at Thermopylae and Salamis.
Odysseus's story continues in The Odyssey, where he again displays courage and cleverness on his ten-year journey home from the Trojan War.