Odysseus is the son of Laertes of Ithaca, a former Argonaut, and Anticlea, the granddaughter of Hermes, god of Olympus. It is through this lineage that Odysseus is a channeler.
“Physically unimpressive, thou wouldest have deemed him a churlish man and naught but a fool” on sight, claims Priam. “But whenso he uttered his great voice from his chest, and words fell like snowflakes on a winter’s day, then could no mortal man beside vie with Odysseus; then did we not so marvel to behold Odysseus’ aspect.”
“He knoweth all manner of craft and cunning devices,” concurs Helen, this illustrious “Odysseus of many wiles.”Priam and Helen
Odysseus was a Greek hero of the famed Trojan War and featured in Homer’s Iliad and the Odyssey. He was clever and shrewd, in so much as he was protected quite heavily by the goddess of wisdom, Athena. He soothed conflicts so they did not erupt to war, and as such actively avoided war whenever possible. He often found solutions for important problems: he was amongst Helen’s suitors, but to avoid war between them he made them all swear to respect Helen’s decision of whom to marry and to protect whoever she chose. As a result, she chose King Menelaus of Sparta, whom Odysseus knew he would not compete against. Odysseus concocted a plan that all of Helen’s former suitors swear to protect her honor the remainder of her days. This vow is what was called upon him to join the Trojan War, yet ironically, it was Odysseus himself who shirked his own promise. Odysseus ended up married Helen’s cousin Penelope and they had a son, Telemachus.
He was quite content on Ithica as its king and ruler until troublesome news reached their island of the brewing conflict between Troy and the Greeks. He lent a willing ear to prophecy, and he was told that if he were to be drawn into the war, a long and treacherous journey would keep him away from his home most of his life. Therefore, he conspired to do anything possible to stay out. The day came when Palamedes came to recruit him to the war, and Odysseus feigned insanity to get out of it. He put on torn clothes, and tried to sow the land with salt all the while ploughing the fields with a goat and an ox. Palamedes then put the baby Telemachus in front of the plough, calling his bluff, which made Odysseus stop, revealing his sanity in order to protect his infant son. After this, Odysseus hated Palamedes, and he eventually extracted revenge when the opportunity came. He forged a letter from the Trojan king to Palamedes and buried gold under his tent. When the letter and the gold were discovered by the Greeks, Palamedes was accused of treason and sentenced to death.
The Trojan War
Consulting again another prophet, Odysseus learned that the only way the war with the Spartans may be won hinged on the famed warrior Achilles joining the fray. Odysseus had learned Achilles was in hiding, and concocted a plan to draw the warrior out of his disguises. He tricked Achilles into reaching for a spear when a normal man would otherwise have overlooked it, proving him to be the real warrior. As soon as he was revealed, Achilles agreed to join the Trojan War.
Unsurprisingly, Odysseus’ main role during the Trojan war was one of a crafty strategist and a wise advisor. He was the one most capable of maintaining the morale of the Greeks at a high level, and the one who managed to prevent the bulk of the Greek army from withdrawing from the war after Agamemnon’s plan to test their determination by allowing them a leave had backfired tremendously. Odysseus was also the leader of the three-man expedition sent to appease Achilles who, enraged at what he had perceived as unfair treatment from Agamemnon, decided to leave the battlefield.
Hero and Antihero
As a warrior, Odysseus was also quite capable, particularly when it involved subterfuge. He captured, tortured and killed the trojan spy Dolon.
He stole horses from the camp of King Rhesus, and when the king set out to reclaim their property, they were ambushed by Odysseus and his men. Odysseus killed King Rhesus in the fighting.
He also kidnapped a Trojan prophetess and tortured her into revealing how the Trojans may be defeated. Part of that downfall involved the recruitment of two additional warriors (Neoptolemus and Philocetetes), whom Odysseus himself located and returned with them.
When Achilles was killed, the hero Ajax carried the dead body of Achilles from the field so that he could be properly buried, but he only did so because Odysseus held back the Trojan army from following. Later, the famed armor of Achilles was bequeathed to Odysseus rather than Ajax, and Ajax committed suicide from shame.
These and more stories reveal that Odysseus could be unnecessarily cruel toward his enemies, which why he was adored by the Greeks but reviled by the Turks and Romans. His most infamous deed was killing King Hector’s little boy, a child whom he feared would grow to an adult seeking revenge for his father’s fallen kingdom. When his old revenge on Palamedes was extracted, he threw the man in a well and stoned him to death.
A tragic hero
It was Odysseus’ long journey home to Ithaca that he encountered the majority of his troubles, riled the angers of gods, and experienced his most harrowing tales.
He sailed with 12 ships from Troy toward home. Almost immediately they are thrown off course and land on the island of Thrace, which were allies of Troy. The leaders recognize their enemy and a battle ensures. Odysseus and his men slaughter everyone save a priest of Apollo, who gives them wine in gratitude. Their ensuring drunkenness leaves them to linger on the island too long and they are attacked by the regrouped warriors of Thrace and suffer a large defeat.
His remaining men and him escape from the island of the Lotus-eaters next, whose lotus leaves are so delicious and intoxicating, they toil for a long time before Odysseus breaks the spell and drags his men from the island they resisted leaving.
Their next journey takes them to the island of the uncouth and barbaric people known as Cyclops, their leader being Polyphemus, who captures them. They are tied in a cave and threatened to be eaten two-by-two, but Odysseus devises a plan. He claims his name is “Outis” which means “Nobody,” and when he stabs Polyphemus in the eyes, blinding him, the hulking cyclops runs from the cave to seek help all the while claiming that “Nobody is escaping” and “Nobody has wounded him.” The trick allows Odysseus and his men time to escape. By the time Polyphemus sorts out his miscommunication with his men, it was too late. However, Odysseus in his arrogance reveals his true name as they sail away. The taunt becomes his downfall as he did not know that Polyphemus was a son of Poseidon, whom upon being blinded and defeated, calls upon his father for revenge. The anger of Poseidon seeking to punish Odysseus becomes the curse that follows him the rest of his days and prevents his long-awaited return home to Ithaca.
Fleeing the anger of Poseidon, Odysseus seeks refuge from Aeolus, king of Aiolus, yet another son of Poseidon. Aeolus is just and takes mercy upon Odysseus. He welcomes them warmly and protects them for over a month. Perhaps it was Odysseus devotion to family and desire to return so badly to Ithaca that Aeolus promises to aid someone who he sees as a brotherly king of another island. He loans Odysseus his famed Satchel of the Winds to speed his sails. They were near to home when Odysseus falls asleep and his men, believing the satchel to contain treasure, steal it away in the night. They open the bag and release the full power of the winds, which are violently blown back all the way to Aiolus. Upon seeing their foolishness, Aeolus retakes his satchel and does not help a second time.
Attempting to set sail a second time, Odysseus lands on the island of bloodthirsty cannibals Laestrygonians, whom kill and eat almost all of his men. In this, all twelve save one of Odysseus’ ships are sunk. He barely escapes with a small crew.
Him and his remaining crew land on Aeaea, home of the powerful channeler witch known as Circe. There she transforms all of his men into pigs except for Odysseus, who had been given a talisman by his great-grandfather, Hermes, which protects him against her magic. His defense of his men and powerful ability to resist her transfixes Circe, and she falls in love with him, opting to claim him for her own. He is forced to become her unwilling lover before he escapes a year later, which he only does by taking the horrendous route to Hades.
Finally escaping Circe, Odysseus takes the treacherous paths of Hades, where it is widely known that none ever return. Yet finding this to be a better alternative than remaining as the witch’s unwilling lover, he seeks yet another prophet known to reside in the underworld, Teiresias. The visions of this prophet show him many of the people he has previously killed as well as foretells a warning that he needs to hurry home to his wife, Penelope, who is unable to continue resisting the pursuit of suitors seeking to claim Odysseus kingdom for themselves. Teiresias warns Odysseus that more dangers await him, but if he can endure, he may yet see home. At the behest of Persephone, who takes mercy upon Odysseus and his devotion to Penelope, the queen of the underworld convinces her husband, Hades to allow Odysseus to depart. She even arranges to gift him a ship to see him on his way. Such Odysseus becomes only one of the extremely rare persons allowed to visit and then depart the Underworld of Hades.
Next, Odysseus encounters sirens, monsters, and enraged gods. Surviving them all, he next lands on the island of Ogygia, where yet another bloodthirsty and cruel witch captures him, falls in love with him, and forces him into service as her lover and companion. He remains Calypso’s prisoner for seven long years. Only when Hermes, his great-grandfather who bequeathed him his amulet, hears his kin’s pleading and implores Zeus to intervene. The king of the gods orders Calpyso to release her prisoner, and finally, Odysseus departs the island.
After 20 long years of war and journey, Odysseus finally returns home, but his troubles are far from over.
As soon as he is home, he finds his island kingdom in turmoil. Athena whom he once so proudly served aids him by giving him a disguise so that he may walk the streets and so learn the current state of affairs. It is while in this disguise that fate reunites him with Telemachus, the infant son now fully grown into a man. With his son and a long-lost friend, Odysseus seeks his palace and Penelope. However, his queen has long been beseeched by suitors vying for Odysseus throne. They threaten the disguised Odysseus, and together with Athena, a plan is concocted. Penelope announces that she will marry the man who can string and shoot her husband’s former bow. Of course, only Odysseus (still in disguise) succeeds. He reveals himself afterward and quite cruelly slays all the suitors and hangs 12 maids deemed to be traitors.
After Odysseus is cleaned and robed, he is viewed in all his godly glory. Penelope’s joy was so profound that Athena beseeches Eos to delay the coming dawn so that the two spouses can fully enjoy a lengthened night of embraces, tears and stories, of love and pleasure.
A tragic end
Odysseus lives out his later years as the ongoing ruler of Ithaca rather peacefully. However, following another twenty years, one of the sons he sired with the witch Circe, Telegonus, arrives, claiming his identity and challenging Odysseus’ natural heirs with Penelope. They battle, but Telegonus had tipped his spear in the poison of a stingray and even a small scratch upon Odysseus proves fatal. Odysseus must be healed in order to survive.
Afterward, he beseeches the prophet of Hades who previously advised him of how to proceed. The prophet tells him that if he continued to rule Ithaca, his family would be destroyed. Therefore, he abdicates his throne and seeks solitude inland far from the sea. He wanders Greece and far into Europe until he reaches a people who know nothing of him nor even recognize the oar of a boat they are so far from the coast. For many years, he lived amongst these people and it was here that he breathed his last, far from the sea, his family and his beloved Ithaca.
Current reincarnation: Andre DuBois – (Bio)