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Odysseus, king of Ithaca, is one of the best-known ancient
Greek heroes. Homer’s Iliad and Virgil’s Aeneid both
portray Odysseus as, if not the strongest Greek chieftain in the
Trojan War, certainly the smartest and likely the most valuable.
He is entrusted with any task that requires more than brute force,
from drawing the great Achilles into the Greek army to inventing
the tactic of the Trojan Horse—the ruse that finally enabled the
Greeks to win the war. Odysseus’s sharp wit works wonders that no
feat of arms can achieve. It is in reflection of this worth that
Odysseus is given the fallen Achilles’ armor, the highest honor
for a warrior.
Homer’s other epic, the Odyssey, records
Odysseus’s journey back to Ithaca from Troy. It is the first—and
until the Aeneid, the only—large-scale classical
work focusing on one character. As such, Homer gives Odysseus a
depth of character and richness of psychological texture lacking
in other classical protagonists. Without supernatural powers or
divine heritage, Odysseus must rely on his own shrewd intellect
to survive—a human and modern approach to the challenges and temptations
Ace your assignments with our guide to Mythology!