Odysseus (also spelled Ulysses) was a major ancient Greek hero, and a legendary Greek king of Ithaca, credited for his infamous Trojan Horse trick. He is the eponymous hero of the Odyssey, which tells the story of his ten-year-long journey back to his homeland of Ithaca after the Trojan War.


Role in the Iliad

Odysseus was one of the most influential Greek champions in Homer's Iliad. He came up with the idea of the Trojan Horse with the help of his patron goddess, Athena. The Trojan Horse allowed the Greek forces to sneak into the protective walls of Troy under the cover of darkness, while the Trojans were celebrating the fallback and retreat of the Greeks.

When night fell, a troop of soldiers led by Odysseus came out from the Trojan Horse, having hidden inside, and opened the gates of Troy, allowing Agamemnon's troops to invade the city.

After Troy was sacked, Odysseus threw Hector's infant son, Astyanax, from the walls of the city in order to kill him. Such a dishonorable act by Greek standards made him be cursed by the gods.

Role in the Odyssey

Odysseus is the central hero in the second of Homer's epics, the Odyssey. The legend describes Odysseus' travels as he tries to return to his home after the Trojan War and reclaim his rightful title as the King of Ithaca. Odysseus' way home becomes quite troublesome because of the curse the gods had laid on him for killing Hector's son and after that Poseidon went after him for injuring Polyphemus. He struggled for ten years but survived at the end.

First, he meets the Cícones (Ciconians), who were allies of the Trojan, but after taking their city, they come back with a whole army and they had to run to the ships in order to survive. Then he stops at the country of the Lotus Eaters where their will to get back home is tested. After deciding to continue the trip and go back home they end up on an island of Polyphemus, a Cyclops. However, the Cyclops turns out to be a rather bloodthirsty individual, eating two of Odysseus' men a day. In a clever scheme, Odysseus allows Polyphemus to drink his wine until the Cyclops had passed out. Once out cold, Odysseus and his men sharpen the Cyclop's great club and gouge his eye out with it. Blinded and confused, the Cyclops staggers about, and Odysseus and his men escape in a flock of the Cyclops' sheep. Poseidon, Polyphemus' father, seeks retribution for this, as he decides to make Odysseus' journey home even more difficult. 

They get to Aeolia soon after leaving the Cyclops. There Aeolus gave Odysseus a bag holding all the winds, which makes them sail to Ithaca really fast. When they are close enough to see Ithaca's lights, greed overcomes Odysseus' crew, who promptly opened the bag in search of gold, and thus the winds blow them back to Aeolia. The god of the winds angrily dismissed them as cursed by the gods. Since they didn't have a choice, they started the hard way to Ithaca without the god's help. They stayed at the sea for seven days until they stop at Telépio (city of the Lestrigones) and only Odysseus ship gets out in one piece, while all the others sink. They got to Circe's island after a few days and tough a rush arrival and a few problems in the begging, they stay there for a year. When they're planning to head back to Ithaca, Circe advises them to pass by the Underworld. There they talk to lots of people, but specifically to Tiresias, one of the wisest men ever who could see the future. Upon hearing a prophecy they sail back to Circe's and then restart the long way back home.

They pass by the Sirens (Odysseus heard them and survived), Scylla and Charybdis (they pass close to Scylla) and then they stop at the island of Helios' sacred cattle. Odysseus' starving crewmen, despite being warned, decide to slay and eat some of the cattle, for which they are later punished. As Odysseus and his men set sail once more, a sea storm wrecks the ship, killing all but Odysseus, who didn't eat the meat of the sacred cattle. The gods sent him to Ogygia (Calypso's island) and he stays there for seven years. Finally, he gets to the Feaces who take him home.

He overcomes some problems of his arrival, and together with Telemachus and two faithful servants, he kills all the suitors (only a singer and a musician get out alive because of Telemachus' mercy). After that, Ithaca enters chaos, as the fathers of the suitors go after Odysseus and his followers looking for revenge. The gods stop the civil war in the middle of the battle and peace is made, keeping Ithaca from destruction. He later made peace with Poseidon by making a sacrifice for him in the land where people did not know about the sea.

Odysseus would die after many years as a righteous king, although the details surrounding his death are vague. One story says that he was accidentally killed by his son, Telegonus, whom he had sired with the sorceress, Circe.

Percy Jackson and the Olympians

The Sea of Monsters

Percy and Annabeth's adventure greatly resembles the Odyssey, with many of the same locations and monsters. Annabeth's fatal flaw is noted to be hubris, similar to Odysseus. 

The Heroes of Olympus

The Mark of Athena

While Minerva is in Grand Central Station, she becomes confused and lost because her two sides are at war with each other. As she looks at the map, she wishes Odysseus was there as he would be able to help her find the way home.

Annabeth later thinks about how Odysseus was not only a great warrior, but he was also very intelligent, which gives her the drive to continue her quest for the Athena Parthenos.

The House of Hades

While Leo is on Ogygia, Calypso talks about all the other men who had come to her island but had to leave her behind. Calypso remembers Odysseus as one of them.

The Blood of Olympus

Annabeth, Jason, and Piper disguise themselves and successfully infiltrate Odysseus' old palace in Ithaca, which is now haunted by the ghosts of the Suitors as well as the spirits of many historical figures and demigods, who are in league with Gaea. After learning the enemy plans, the trio kills all the ghosts present.

Jason is wounded in the process and calls on Juno using the marriage bed of Odysseus and Penelope. While Juno/Hera praises the faithfulness of Odysseus and Penelope's marriage, Jason remembers that Odysseus was unfaithful to Penelope and had romantic affairs with other women.


  • Ajax the Greater committed suicide after losing Achilles' armor to Odysseus in a poetry contest. When Odysseus later visits the Underworld in search of the blind seer Tiresias, he comes across the soul of Ajax, who refuses to speak to him, as, even in death, Ajax didn't forgive him.
  • Odysseus was gifted with his famous bow by Iphitus. It was originally owned by Iphitus's father Eurytus, who received the bow from his grandfather, Apollo.
  • Even being away for approximately twenty years, it didn't seem that anyone thought about electing another king other than by marriage with Penelope and they stayed all this long without a king.
    • Except that kings are not elected, back then kings were either heirs who inherited the throne or came to rule by marrying into another royal family.
  • Hundreds of men (suitors) stayed outside Odysseus' house, demanding his wife Penelope choose one of them for a husband. During their stay, the island suffered as the suitors killed his livestock, drank his wine, and ate his crops.
  • His father, Laertes, was a demigod son of Zeus, while his maternal grandfather is Autolycus, was a son of Hermes. Odysseus would, therefore, be a legacy of both Zeus and Hermes.
  • Odysseus and Jason both shared the same grandfather, Autolycus, a son of Hermes.
  • Odysseus was stranded on the island of Ogygia for seven years. 
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