What Are The Adventures Of Odysseus?

Learn about the heroic adventures of Odysseus, from his exploits in the Trojan War, to his many trials on his journey home.

Odysseus, also known by the Latin name of Ulysses, is one of the most famous characters in Greek mythology. He was the ruler of the island Ithaca, one of many Greek city states. Odysseus' adventures began in earnest with the onset of the Trojan War.

Helen of Troy, the most beautiful woman who walked the earth had many suitors, of which Odysseus was one. In consultation with her father, Odysseus devised an oath that meant all the Greek states must join together, should anyone be disrespectful to Helen. In return he was allowed to marry Penelope, herself a very attractive female. However, because of the oath, when Paris took Helen to Troy, Odysseus, as ruler of Ithaca had an obligation to go to war in her name. He was happy though with Penelope and feigned madness. Palamedes caused him to confess his sanity though, after threatening to kill his son, Telemachus.

Odysseus was known throughout his life as being rather devious and cunning. During the Trojan War, he tricked the great warrior Achilles into showing himself, and also designed the wooden horse that would eventually prove to be the Trojans undoing. The Greeks had been helped by the Gods throughout that campaign, but because they seemed rather ungrateful for this, the Gods punished them by making their return journey a nightmare. In all it took Odysseus ten years to get back to the island of Ithaca and he encountered many strange lands and dangerous creatures along the way.

The first island Odysseus and his men landed on was the island of the Lotus-eaters. The crew went ashore and were offered the Lotus fruit by the islanders. After eating it, they completely lost their memory and wished to stay on the island. Luckily, Odysseus knew of the dangers of the fruit and wouldn't eat it. Eventually, he persuaded his men to return to ship and set sail once more.

Subsequently, they landed on the island of the Cyclops who took the men prisoner. Cyclops Polymephus, the son of Poseidon promised to eat them all. When he slept though, Odysseus stabbed him in his only eye, blinding him. Polymephus called upon the help of the other Cyclops', but Odysseus tricked them into letting him go. Now however, the god of the sea Poseidon was angry with Odysseus for blinding his son and vowed to make the rest of his journey particularly testing.

From the island of the Cyclops the men travelled to the country of the winds, where as a gift Odysseus was given a bag containing several winds. They sailed close to Ithaca, but the greedy crew, thinking that the bag contained gold, opened it when their leader wasn't looking, and were blown severely off course by the said winds. They arrived at the island of the cannibals where all but one of their ships was destroyed.



The island of Aeaea, home of the witch Circe, was the next destination for Odysseus and his men. Circe gave the crew a potion to drink, which turned them into pigs, although they still had the minds of humans. Odysseus used a special herb to counter the effects of the potion, and remained unchanged. Impressed by this, the witch promptly fell ion love with him, and on the Greek crews departure she offered directions to the Underworld and explained to Odysseus how he could communicate with the dead.

Odysseus spoke to many dead Greeks in Hades, the Underworld. Most importantly, he conversed with Tiresias, who revealed that his palace was being abused to possible suitors of his wife, Penelope, who had remained faithful. Other dead kings advised him on future aspects of his journey, namely they perils of the Sirens, and Scylla and Charybdis.

Armed with this knowledge, the ship set sail once more. Soon enough they encountered the Sirens, mermaids whose beautiful voices charmed the crew into stopping to listen. The Sirens though, had an unhealthy appetite for human flesh. Odysseus ordered his crew to put wax in their ears, so they would be unable to hear the Sirens' voices. His curiosity got the better of him though, and he ordered the crew to tie him to the mast. Upon hearing the Sirens' enchanting voices, Odysseus begged to be released, but the crew ignored him and they sailed safely by.

The ship next had to sail through a narrow strait, and a dilemma faced them. On one side was the six-headed monster Scylla, on the other the whirlpool Charybdis. Odysseus decided the monster was the lesser of two evils and so sailed closest to that side, losing only a superficial amount of crew.

The island of Hyperion, the sun god, was their next destination. They had been warned by the dead of the Underworld not to eat any cattle on the island, but after nearly starving, several of the crew did so. Upon discovering this, Hyperion destroyed Odysseus' boat when it next set sail, and he was the only survivor.

He was washed ashore on the island of the nymph, Calypso. There he was forced to live for seven years. Calypso loved him so much that she offered him immortality if he stayed, but Odysseus yearned to see his wife and son once more. Zeus eventually freed him, and set sail for home in a small boat. Again though, it was destroyed - Poseidon had still not forgiven him.

After recovering on the island of the Phaeacians, Odysseus was escorted back to Ithaca. As Tiresias had told him, his wife had remained faithful, but potential suitors were consuming his cattle, ransacking his home and behaving like drunkards. Odysseus disguised himself as a beggar to witness all this taking place. He subsequently revealed himself, and with the aid of his son Telemachus, slaughtered all the suitors.

Years later, Telegonus learned from his mother, the witch Circa, that Odysseus was his father. He travelled to Ithaca in search of him, but unfortunately killed him with a poisoned spear after not recognising him. Telegonus was said to be heartbroken after this.

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