What does Odysseus's name mean, and is it a fitting name for his character?

Expert Answers
linda-allen eNotes educator| Certified Educator

That's a very good question. I've never really thought about the meaning of Odysseus's name and how it fits his character. Homer wrote "The Odyssey" as the historical account of the what happened to Odysseus after the Trojan War, and as far as he knew the people in his story were real, historical people. So we can't say that Homer chose names that would have symbolic meaning.

That said, according to behindthename.com, the name "Odysseus" may be derived from the Greek word odyssomai, which means "to hate." If that is the case, then the name doesn't really fit Homer's Odysseus. He's a trickster and a conniver, but he's not a hater--until he finally gets home and faces Penelope's suitors.

A more scholarly web site (see the sources section) states that the name translates as "he who gives or receives pain." This rendering does fit the character of Odysseus. His trick of building the Trojan horse certainly brought pain to the Trojans.

user6360712 | Student

The name Odysseus, according to book 19 of the Odyssey, means the "child of anger".  This is a fitting name for Odysseus because when he grows up and returns home from the Trojan War.  He takes out all his anger on the suitors who are ruining his estate. 

grimsagent | Student

The name Odysseus means The Son of Pain. This obviously suits Odysseus as he feels much pain throughout his trials and tribulations on his journey home. Hope this helps

yeahyeah | Student

Actually if you still care according to "The Odyssey" Odysseus was named by his grandfather who said he was naming him that because of how hateful he himself was through out the land. I remember reading some where that Odysseus' name then could mean "to hate and be hated".

Who knows though.