What is the difference between Aeneas, Achilles and Odysseus?

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Aeneas, Achilles and Odysseus are heroes mentioned in Homer's epic poem The Iliad. It is the story of the ten year Trojan War and the eventual fall of the city of Troy.

Aeneas, a Trojan warrior allied with with his cousin Hector, the great Trojan prince, is only mentioned sparingly in the tale. At one point he briefly fights the Greek warrior Achilles, but, since that warrior is virtually invulnerable, Aeneas is saved from the fight by the god Poseidon.

Aeneas appears again as the main hero in the Roman poet Virgil's epic The Aeneid. After escaping the crumbling walls of Troy when that city is conquered by the Greek invaders (who used the famed Trojan horse to gain entrance), Aeneas sets sail for Italy, where it has been foretold by the oracles that he will found a new and great city. This city is Rome. On the way he has many adventures in Carthage, Sicily and Tuscany. Like Achilles and Odysseus he has divine ancestry and is the son of the goddess of love, Aphrodite.

Achilles is considered the greatest of the Greek warriors who invade Troy. He has been rendered nearly immortal by his goddess mother Thetis who dipped him in the River Styx. Achilles main deed in The Iliad is the killing of the Trojan prince Hector after the Trojan kills Achilles' best friend Patroclus. The death of Achilles after the Greeks invade Troy is not documented in The Iliad but later sources say that Hector's brother Paris killed Achilles with an arrow to the ankle. When Thetis dipped Achilles into the river she held him by the ankle, hampering Achilles with his only weakness and the ultimate cause of his death.  

Odysseus is the king of the Greek city Ithaca and fights for the Greeks in the Trojan War. In The Iliad he is known for being one of the shrewdest and wisest of the Greek generals and, while not as formidable as Achilles, a very brave and cunning fighter. He is also credited with devising the idea for the Trojan Horse, but this story is not included in The Iliad. That epic poem ends with the funeral of Hector. Odysseus is most famous for Homer's sequel to The Iliad, The Odyssey, which tells the story of Odysseus's long journey back to Ithaca after the war. As with the above two heroes, he has a divine heritage as his great grandfather was the messenger god Hermes, who was the son of Zeus.  

Read the study guide:
The Odyssey

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