Who was Odysseus?
Odysseus (or Ulysses in Latin) was the son of Laertes and was the king of the island kingdom of Ithaca. Odysseus was the hero of Homer’s Odyssey and he was also one of the most prominent Greek heroes in the Trojan War . He was known for his eloquence as a speaker, but also for his cleverness and cunning. According to the Iliad, Odysseus was one of the original suitors of Helen of Troy. When Menelaus succeeded in winning Helen’s hand in marriage Odysseus advised Menelaus to get the other suitors to swear to defend his marriage rights. However, when time came and Menelaus called on the suitors to help him bring Helen back from Troy, Odysseus was reluctant to make good on his oath. He pretended to have gone mad, plowing his fields and sowing salt instead of grain. To show that Odysseus was pretending Palamedes placed Telemachus, Odysseus’ infant son, in front of the plow. Odysseus revealed his sanity when he turned aside to avoid injuring his child.
Odysseus fought heroically in the Trojan War, refusing to leave the field when the Greek troops were being routed by the Trojans after Achilles’ temporary withdrawal from the war. After the death of Achilles, Odysseus and Ajax competed for Achilles’ armor. Odysseus’ eloquence caused the Greeks to award the prize to him, and Ajax went mad and killed himself. Odysseus was also the one who came up with the idea about the Trojan horse, which eventually led to the sacking of troy and the end of the Trojan War.