King of Ithaca, husband of Penelope, father of Telemachus, and son of Laërtes and Anticlea, Odysseus is renowned for his guile and resourcefulness, and is hence known by the epithet Odysseus the Cunning. (See mētis, or "cunning intelligence"). He is most famous for the ten eventful years he took to return home after the Trojan War.
The verb odussomai (oδύσσομαι), meaning "hate", suggests that the name could be rendered as "the one who is wrathful/hated". This interpretation is reinforced by Odysseus' and Poseidon's mutual wrath. In Odyssey 19, in which Odysseus' early childhood is recounted, Euryclea asks Autolycus, to name him. Euryclea tries to guide him to naming the boy Polyaretos, "for he has much been prayed for". (19.403f) In Greek, however, Polyaretos can also take the opposite meaning: much accursed. Autolycus seems to infer this connotation of the name and accordingly names his grandson Odysseus. Odysseus often receives the patronymic epithet Laertiades (Greek: Λαερτιάδης), son of Laërtes.
His name and stories were adopted into Etruscan religion under the name Uthuze.
Odysseus and other envoys of Agamemnon traveled to Scyros to recruit Achilles because of a prophecy that Troy could not be taken without him. By most accounts, Thetis, Achilles' mother, disguised the youth as a woman to hide him from the recruiters because an oracle had predicted that Achilles would either live a long, uneventful life or achieve everlasting glory while dying young. Odysseus cleverly discovered which of the women before him was Achilles when the youth stepped forward to examine an array of weapons. Some accounts say that Odysseus arranged for the sounding of a battle horn, which prompted Achilles to clutch a weapon.
Just before the war began, Odysseus accompanied Menelaus and Palamedes in an attempt to negotiate Helen's peaceful return. Menelaus made unpersuasive emotional arguments, but Odysseus's arguments very nearly persuaded the Trojan court to hand Helen over.
When the Achaean ships reached the beach of Troy, no one would jump ashore, since there was an oracle that the first Achaean to jump on Trojan soil would die. Odysseus tossed his shield on the shore and jumped on his shield. He was followed by Protesilaus, who jumped on Trojan soil and later became the first to die.
Odysseus never forgave Palamedes for unmasking his madness ruse, leading him to frame him as a traitor. At one point, Odysseus convinced a Trojan captive to write a letter pretending to be from Palamedes. A sum of gold was mentioned to have been sent as a reward for Palamedes's treachery. Odysseus then killed the prisoner and hid the gold in Palamedes's tent. He ensured that the letter was found and acquired by Agamemnon, and also gave hints directing the Argives to the gold. This was evidence enough for the Greeks and they had Palamedes stoned to death. Other sources say that Odysseus and Diomedes goaded Palamedes into descending a wall with the prospect of treasure being at the bottom. When Palamedes reached the bottom, the two proceeded to bury him with stones, killing him.
Odysseus was one of the most influential Greek champions during the Trojan War. Along with Nestor and Idomeneus he was one of the most trusted advisers and counsellors. He always championed the Achaean cause, especially when the king was in question, as in one instance when Thersites spoke against him. When Agamemnon, to test the morale of the Achaeans, announced his intentions to depart Troy, Odysseus restored order to the Greek camp. Later on in the Iliad, after many of the heroes had left the battlefield due to injuries (including Odysseus and Agamemnon), Odysseus once again persuaded Agamemnon not to withdraw. Along with two other envoys, he was chosen in the failed embassy to try to persuade Achilles to return to combat.
When Hector proposed a single combat duel, Odysseus was one of the Danaans who volunteered to battle him. Telamonian Ajax, however, was the volunteer who eventually did fight Hector. Odysseus aided Diomedes during the successful night operations in order to kill Rhesus, because it had been foretold that if his horses drank from the Scamander river Troy could not be taken.
After Patroclus had been slain, it was Odysseus who counselled Achilles to let the Achaean men eat and rest rather than follow his rage-driven desire to go back on the offensive—and kill Trojans—immediately. Eventually (and reluctantly), he consented.
During the funeral games for Patroclus, Odysseus became involved in a wrestling match with Telamonian Ajax, as well as a foot race. With the help of the goddess Athena, who favoured him, and despite Apollo helping another of the competitors, he won the race and managed to draw the wrestling match, to the surprise of all.
When Achilles was slain in battle, it was Odysseus and Telamonian Ajax who successfully retrieved the fallen warrior's body and armour in the thick of heavy fighting. During the funeral games for Achilles, Odysseus competed once again with Telamonian Ajax. Thetis said that the arms of Achilles would go to the bravest of the Greeks, but only these two warriors dared lay claim to that title. The two Argives became embroiled in a heavy dispute about one another's merits to receive the reward. The Greeks dithered out of fear in deciding a winner, because they did not want to insult one and have him abandon the war effort. Nestor suggested that they allow the captive Trojans decide the winner. Some accounts disagree, suggesting that the Greeks held a secret vote. In any case, Odysseus was the winner. Enraged and humiliated, and to protect Odysseus from his vengeance, Ajax killed himself by the sword that Hector had given him after being driven mad by Athena.
Together with Diomedes, Odysseus went to fetch Achilles' son, Pyrrhus, to come to the aid of the Achaeans, because an oracle had stated that Troy could not be taken without him. A great warrior, Pyrrhus was named Neoptolemus (Greek: "new hero"). Upon the success of the mission, Odysseus gave him the armaments of his father.
It was later learned that the war could not be won without the poison arrows of Heracles, which were owned by the abandoned Philoctetes. Odysseus and Diomedes (or, according to some accounts, Odysseus and Neoptolemus) went out to retrieve them. Upon their arrival, Philoctetes (still suffering from the wound) was seen still to be enraged at the Danaans, especially Odysseus, for abandoning him. Although his first instinct was to shoot Odysseus, his anger was eventually diffused by Odysseus's persuasive powers and the influence of the gods. Odysseus returned to the Argive camp with Philoctetes and his arrows.
Later in the war, Odysseus captured Priam's son, Helenus the prophet, who told the Greeks that Troy could not be taken without the capture of the Palladium, which was located in the city itself. Once again, Odysseus and Diomedes went on a mission together to fulfill a prophecy. Some say that Diomedes crawled up on Odysseus's shoulders into the city but would not help Odysseus up to do the same. When Diomedes returned from stealing the Palladium and met up again with the infuriated Odysseus, the latter thought to kill him and take credit for himself. He stepped behind him so as to stab him with his sword, but Diomedes caught the glint in the moonlight and spun around and disarmed the Ithacan king. He then proceeded to drive Odysseus back to the Argive camp with the flat of his sword. Another account of the stealing of the Palladium states that Odysseus and Diomedes entered the city together.
Some myths state that Odysseus, in the disguise of a beggar, covered in rags and blood, entered the Trojan city on the Q.T. and alone. He was recognized by no-one except Helen and Hecuba. They questioned him but allowed him to return to the Greek camp unharmed.
The Trojan Horse, that famous stratagem, was devised by Odysseus. It was built by Epeius and filled with Greek warriors, led by Odysseus. Beforehand, he made Menelaus swear to give him whatever he wanted after they had taken Troy and was met with concord. When the Horse was taken into Troy, Odysseus and Menelaus descended from it and went directly to Prince Deiphobos's house, where they engaged in a ferocious battle, although some accounts say that Odysseus fought him and that Menelaus came to find the dead body. Ultimately, however, Deiphobos, who was then the leading son of Priam and Helen's third husband, was killed. Menelaus was about to kill Helen for leaving him when Odysseus took advantage of the earlier promise and made him swear not to.
In Euripedes' "The Trojan Women", it is Odysseus who convinces the other Argives to kill Hector's young son so that he has no chance to avenge his city.
Odysseus has traditionally been viewed in the Iliad as Achilles's antithesis: while Achilles's anger is all-consuming and of a self-destructive nature, Odysseus is frequently viewed as a man of the mean, world-renowned for his self-restraint and diplomatic skills. Professor Adele Haft, in her essay Odysseus' Wrath and Grief in the "Iliad", observes that there might be more to Odysseus's nature than initially appears on the surface. Haft makes several interesting observations that raise questions about the traditional approach to his character. Haft notes that Odysseus is the only other character besides Achilles to receive a verbal reprimand from Agamemnon. There are repeated suggestions that Agamemnon and Odysseus's relationship is strained: it is not Agamemnon but Nestor who selects Odysseus for his every mission in the Iliad. Haft explains Odysseus's displays of wrath, as well as his strained relationship with Agamemnon, as indicators that Odysseus will ultimately be responsible for the sacking of Troy. Haft points to the death of Democoon in Book IV as a prime example of the consequences of Odysseus's anger, for it results in a massive reduction of Trojan morale as well as a retreat. Haft goes on to suggest that Democoon's death, in conjunction with the death of Simoeisius, previses the destruction of Troy.
To render Polyphemus unwary, Odysseus gave him a bowl of the strong, unwatered wine given them by Maron, the priest of Apollo. When Polyphemus asked for his name, Odysseus told him that it was "Noman". (Οὔτις, "Noman", is also a short form of his own name - a word game which is lost in translated versions.) In appreciation for the wine, Polyphemus offered to return the favour by only eating him last. Once the giant fell asleep, Odysseus and his men turned an olive tree branch into a giant spear, something that they prepared while Polyphemus was out of the cave shepherding his flocks, and blinded him. Hearing Polyphemus's cries, other Cyclopes come to his cave to ask what was wrong. Polyphemus replied, "Οὖτίς με κτείνει δόλῳ οὐδὲ βίηφιν." ("Noman is killing me either by treachery or brute violence!") The other Cyclopes let him be, thinking that his outbursts must be either madness or the will of the gods.
In the morning, Polyphemus rolled back the boulder to let the sheep out to graze. Now blind, he could not see the men, but he felt the tops of his sheep to make sure that the men were not riding them, and spread his arm at the entrance of the cave. Odysseus and his men escaped, however, by tying themselves to the undersides of three sheep each. Once out, they loaded the sheep aboard their ship and set sail.
As Odysseus and his men were sailing away, he revealed his true identity to Polyphemus. Enraged, Polyphemus tried to hit the ship with boulders, but, because he was blind, he missed, although the rocks landed very close to the ship, swaying it with billows. When the ship appeared to be getting away at last, Polyphemus raised his arms to his father, Poseidon, and asked him to not allow Odysseus to get back home to Ithaca. If he did, however, he must arrive alone, his crew dead, in a stranger's ship.
According to Virgil's Aeneid, Achaemenides was one of Odysseus' crew who stayed on Sicily with Polyphemus until Aeneas arrived and took him with him. Virgil was probably trying to interweave his tale as much as possible with Homer's already ancient, great work, especially as Achaemenides had nothing to do with the story at all and was in fact never mentioned again.
The men followed a road and eventually met a young woman, who said she was a daughter of Antiphates, the king, and directed them to his house. When they arrived there, however, they found a gigantic woman, the wife of Antiphates who promptly called her husband. He immediately left the assembly of the people and, on arrival, snatched up one of the men and started to eat him. The other two ran away, but Antiphates raised a hue-and-cry. Soon they were pursued by thousands of Laestrygonians—giants, not men—who threw vast rocks from the cliffs, smashing the ships, and speared the men like fish.
Odysseus escaped with his single ship due only to the fact that it was not trapped in the harbour. The rest of his company was lost. The surviving crew traveled to the island of Circe.
Odysseus, against his fellows' bidding, set forth to rescue his transfigured men but was intercepted by Hermes and told to procure the herb moly, which would protect him from a similar fate. When it snubbed her magic, he threatened to kill her. She begged for mercy, and offered to sleep with him. He forced her to swear to not plot against him any longer, then obliged by Hermes' counsel. He then refused to eat and drink until his crew was turned back into humans. This she did, and then asked Odysseus to stay. This he did, for an entire year. He eventually left Aeaea at the insistence of his crew, with whom Circe agreed. She gave him advice about the remainder of his journey. During the preparation for departure, however, Odysseus' youngest crewman, Elpenor, fell from a roof and died.
Circe subsequently bore Odysseus a son, Telegonus, who would eventually cause his father's death.
While in Hades, Odysseus also met Achilles (who told him that he would rather be a slave on earth than the king of the dead), Agamemnon and his mother, Anticlea. The soul of Ajax, still sulking about Achilles's armor, refused to speak to Odysseus, despite the latter's pleas of regret.
Odysseus also met his comrade, Elpenor, who told him of the manner of his death and begged him to give him an honorable burial.
Circe had warned Odysseus of the dangers of the singing creatures who lured men to their death on the rocks around their island. She advised him to avoid them but said that, if he really felt that he must, he should have his men plug their ears with beeswax and tie him to the mast to keep him from escaping.
Odysseus had his men do so. As they passed the island, the three Sirens began to sing beautifully, promising him wisdom and knowledge of past and future. Enchanted by their song, he struggled and tried to break free, but two of his men bound him even more tightly until they passed beyond the island.Circe that he would have a choice between two paths home. One was the Wandering Rocks, where either all made it through or all died, and which had only been passed by Jason, with Zeus's help. Odysseus, however, chose the second path: on one side of the strait was a whirlpool called Charybdis, which would sink the ship; on the other was a monster called Scylla, daughter of Crataeis, who had six heads and could seize and eat six men.
The advice was to sail close to Scylla and lose six men but not to fight, lest they should lose more men. Odysseus did not dare tell his crew of the sacrifice, or they would have cowered below and not rowed, in which case all would have ended up in Charybdis. Six men duly died. Odysseus announced that the desperate cries of the wretched, betrayed men were the worst thing he had ever known. Undoubtedly this affected morale and left the survivors feeling mutinous.Thrinacia, which was sacred to Helios, who kept hallowed cattle there. Odysseus, having been warned by Tiresias and Circe not to touch these cattle, told his men that they would not land there. Eurylochus first argued that the men were mourning, then refused to travel by night and finally threatened mutiny. Outnumbered, Odysseus gave in.
The men were soon trapped on the island by adverse winds and, after their food stores had run out, began to get hungry. Odysseus went inland to pray for help and fell asleep. In his absence, Eurylochus reasoned that they might as well eat the cattle and be killed by the gods as die of starvation, and claimed that they would offer sacrifices and treasure to appease the gods if they returned alive to Ithaca. When they slaughtered the cattle, the guardians of the island, Helios's daughters Lampetia and Phaethusa, told their father, who told to Zeus that he would take the sun down to Hades if justice was not done. Zeus destroyed the ship with a thunderbolt, killing all but Odysseus. After sweeping past Scylla and Charybdis, whom he luckily escaped once more, he was washed up on an island.
Odysseus duly departed on a small raft, furnished by Calypso with provisions of water, wine and food, only to be hit by a storm from his old enemy Poseidon. He was washed up on the island of Scheria and found by Nausicaa, the daughter of King Alcinous and Queen Arete of the Phaeacians, who entertained him well. The bard Demodocus sung a song about the Trojan war. As Odysseus, as yet unidentified by the Phaeacians, had been at Troy and longed to return home, he wept at it, at which point Alcinous pressed him for his true identity.
It is here that we are given the story of Odysseus's trip from Troy to Scheria, which occupies books nine to twelve of The Odyssey. After his recital, the Phaeacians offer him passage home, with all the hoardings he obtained along the way and the gifts the Phaecians themselves bestowed upon him (showing xenia, the idea of guest friendship). King Alcinous provided one fast Phæacian ship that soon carried Odysseus home to Ithaca.
Poseidon, on seeing Odysseus's return, was furious and decided to cast a ring of mountains around Scheria so that they could never sail again. This would naturally have been damaging to the Phaeacians, for they were seafarers, but Zeus persuaded Poseidon not to go ahead with the idea. Instead, he turned the ship on which Odysseus journeyed home to stone.
Odysseus arrived on Ithaca alone. Upon landing, he was disguised by Athena as an old man or beggar, and welcomed by his old swineherd, Eumaeus, who did not recognize him but nevertheless treated him well. Odysseus's faithful dog, Argos, was the first to recognize him. Aged and decrepit, the animal did its best to wag its tail, but Odysseus did not want to be found out and had to maintain his cover, so the weary dog died in peace. The first human to recognize him was his old wet nurse, Euryclea, who knew him well enough to see through his rags, recognising an old scar on his leg, received while hunting boar with Autolycus's sons. Odysseus's son, Telemachus, did not see through the disguise, but Odysseus eventually revealed his identity to him.
Odysseus learned that Penelope had remained faithful to him, pretending to weave a burial shroud for his father, and claiming that she would only choose a suitor when she was finished. Every day she wove a length of shroud, and every night unwove it, until one day a maid betrayed her. The suitors demanded that she finally choose a new husband.
When Odysseus arrived at his house, disguised as a beggar, he sat in the hall, observed the suitors and was repeatedly humiliated by them. Presently, he went to Penelope and told her that he had met Odysseus, spinning a haughty tale about his bravery in battle. Penelope, still unknowing of the beggar's identity, began to cry. She went to the suitors and told them that whoever could string his bow and shoot an arrow through 12 axe-handles would marry her. This was to Odysseus's advantage, as only he could string his bow. It is believed that his bow was a composite, requiring great skill and leverage to string, rather than brute strength. Penelope then announced what he, as the beggar, had told her.
The suitors each tried to string the bow, but their attempts were in vain. Odysseus then took it, strung it, lined up twelve axe-handles and shot an arrow through all twelve. Athena then took off his disguise and, with the help of his son, a cattleherd and Eumaeus, slaughtered all the suitors. Antinous was the first to be slain, taking an Odysseus arrow to the throat in the Great Hall while drinking. At first, Odysseus shot as many as he could but then, when out of arrows, reached for the spears. Caught by surprise and unarmed by Telemachus, the suitors were easy prey but, later on, began to arm themselves. This, however, did not save their lives.
When all the suitors were killed, the goatherd Melanthius, who had provided the suitors with arms but had been strung up by Eumaeus, was taken into the courtyard where his nose, ears, hands and feet were cut off, and his genitals pulled out and fed to the dogs. Telemachus hung the female servants who were availing themselves to the suitors.
Penelope, still not certain that the beggar was indeed her husband, tested him. She ordered her maid to make up Odysseus's bed and move it from their bedchamber into the hall outside his room. Odysseus was furious when he heard this because one of the bed posts was made from a living olive tree. He himself had designed it this way; it could not be moved unless by a god. He told her this, and, since only he and she knew of it, she accepted that he was indeed her husband. She came running to him, hoping that he would forgive her. He did, firstly because he could understand why she had tested him and secondly because he had passed the test.
To avenge the death of his son Antinous, Eupeithes tried to kill Odysseus. Laërtes killed him, and Athena thereafter required the suitors' families and Odysseus to make peace. Thus ends the story of the Odyssey.
Odysseus had been told (by the shade of Tiresias) that he had one more journey to make after he had re-established his rule in Ithaca.
Based on several astronomical events described in the Odyssey, some scientists have recently calculated that Odysseus returned home exactly on April 16, 1178 BCE.
The supposed last poem in the Epic Cycle is called the Telegony, and is thought to tell the story of Odysseus's last voyage, and of his death at the hands of Telegonus, his son with Circe. The poem, like the others of the cycle, is "lost" in that no authentic version has been discovered.
In 5th century BC Athens, tales of the Trojan War were popular subjects for tragedies, and Odysseus figures centrally or indirectly in a number of the extant plays by Aeschylus, Sophocles, (Ajax, Philoctetes) and Euripides, (Hecuba, Rhesus, Cyclops) and figured in still more that have not survived.
As Ulysses, he is mentioned regularly in Virgil's Aeneid, and the poem's hero, Aeneas, rescues one of Ulysses' crew members who was left behind on the island of the Cyclops. He in turn offers a first-person account of some of the same events Homer relates, in which Ulysses appears directly. Virgil's Ulysses typifies his view of the Greeks: he is cunning but impious, and ultimately malicious and hedonistic.
Ovid retells parts of Ulysses' journeys, focusing on his romantic involvements with Circe and Calypso, and recasts him as, in Harold Bloom's phrase, "one of the great wandering womanizers." Ovid also gives a detailed account of the contest between Ulysses and Ajax for the armor of Achilles.
Greek legend tells of Ulysses as the founder of Lisbon, Portugal, calling it Ulisipo or Ulisseya, during his twenty-year errand on the Mediterranean and Atlantic seas. Olisipo was Lisbon's name in the Roman Empire. Basing in this folk etymology, the belief that Ulysses is recounted by Strabo based on Asclepiades of Myrleia's words, by Pomponius Mela, by Gaius Julius Solinus (3rd Century A.D.), and finally by Camões in his epic poem Lusiads.
Alfred, Lord Tennyson's Ulysses presents an aging king who has seen too much of the world to be happy sitting on a throne idling his days away. Leaving the task of civilizing his people to his son, he gathers together a band of old comrades "to sail beyond the sunset".
James Joyce's novel Ulysses uses modern literary devices to narrate a single day in the life of a Dublin businessman named Leopold Bloom. Bloom's day turns out to bear many elaborate parallels to Odysseus' twenty years of wandering.
Cream's song "Tales of Brave Ulysses" speaks somewhat of the travels of Odysseus including his encounter with the sirens. And an unnamed Odysseus figure is the narrator of the Steely Dan song, "Home at Last."
Frederick Rolfe's The Weird of the Wanderer has the hero Nicholas Crabbe (based on the author) travelling back in time, discovering that he is the reincarnation of Odysseus, marrying Helen, being deified and ending up as one of the three Magi.
Nikos Kazantzakis' The Odyssey: A Modern Sequel, a 33,333 line epic poem, begins with Odysseus cleansing his body of the blood of Penelope's suitors. Odysseus soon leaves Ithaca in search of new adventures. Before his death he abducts Helen; incites revolutions in Crete and Egypt; communes with God; and meets representatives of various famous historical and literary figures, such as Vladimir Lenin, Don Quixote and Jesus.
Ulysses 31 is a Japanese-French anime series (1981) which updates the Greek and Roman mythologies of Ulysses (or Odysseus) to the thirty-first century. In the series, the gods are angered when Ulysses, commander of the giant spaceship Odyssey, kills the giant Cyclops to rescue a group of enslaved children including Telemachus. Zeus sentences Ulysses to travel the universe with his crew frozen until he finds the Kingdom of Hades, at which point his crew will be revived and he will be able to return to Earth. In one episode, he travels back in time and meets the Odysseus of the Greek myth.
Suzanne Vega's song Calypso shows Odysseus from Calypso's point of view, and tells the tale of him coming to the island and his leaving.
Joel and Ethan Coen's film O Brother Where Art Thou? (2000) is loosely based on the Odyssey. However, they also admit to never having read the epic. George Clooney plays Ulysses Everett McGill, leading a group of escapees from a chain gang through an adventure in search of the proceeds of an armoured truck heist. On their voyage, the gang encounter—amongst other characters—a trio of sirens and a one eyed bible salesman.
In S.M. Stirling's Island in the Sea of Time Trilogy, Odikweos (Mycenean spelling) is a 'historical' figure who is every bit as cunning as his legendary self and is one of the few Bronze Age inhabitants who discerns the time-traveller's real background. Odikweos first aids William Walker's rise to power in Achaea, and later helps bring Walker down after seeing his homeland turn into a police state.
Between 1978 and 1979, German director Tony Munzlinger made a documentary series called Unterwegs mit Odysseus (roughly translated: "Journeying with Odysseus"), in which a film team sails across the Mediterranean Sea trying to find traces of Odysseus in the modern-day settings of the Odyssey. In between the film crew's exploits, hand-drawn scissor-cut cartoons are inserted which relate the hero's story, with actor Hans Clarin providing the narratives.
Lindsay Clarke's "The War at Troy" features Odysseus, and its sequel, "The Return from Troy" retells the voyage of Odysseus in a manner which combines myth with modern psychological insight.
Odysseus may be part of the basis for the character of Desmond Hume on the television series Lost. He is attempting to finish a "race around the world" and return to his girlfriend Penelope when he is stranded on the island.
Progressive metal band Symphony X have a song based on Odysseus' journey called 'The Odyssey' on the album going by the same name. It comes in at 24 minutes 7 seconds long, and has a 6 part orchestra playing in it, each part comprising of 60 people or so.
Eilean Ni Chuilleanain, an Irish poet, wrote a poem called 'The Second Voyage' in which she makes use of the story of Odysseus.
The Simpsons re-enacted a version of the Odyssey in their 13th season, fourteenth episode named 'Tales from the Public Domain ' There were three main stories in the episode, the first bearing the title 'D'oh, Brother Where Art Thou?' which starred Homer Simpson as Odysseus.
A cartoon show named Class of the Titans has a character named 'Odie' who is a direct descendant of Odysseus. One of the Episodes, named 'The Odie-sey' on the show re-enacted the story of The Odyssey, with characters like Calypso, Scylla, and Aeolus, and also modern twists and such.
One plotline in the comic series 52 features a storyline (which follows the character Animal Man) is a parallel of the Odyssey. In this storyline, Animal Man is lost in space and must voyage home to his wife and children, and on his way back he encounters a planet of drug-like plants, a giant who captures him and various other things which parallel the voyage of Odysseus.
Odysseus is also a character in David Gemmell's Troy trilogy. In the first book he's a very good friend and mentor of Helikaon. He is known as the ugly king of Itaca due to his appearance. His wife didn't love him at first but due to her loyalty she grew to respect him and maybe even love him. He's also a famous story teller, known to exaggerate his stories to make them sound better heralded as the greatest story teller of his age. In the series, he is depicted as an older man during his escapades in the Trojan War, and an unwilling ally of Agamemnon.
In the second book of the Percy Jackson series, The Sea of Monsters, Percy and his friends encounter many obstacles similar to the Odyssey, including Charybidis and Scyllia, the Sirens, Polyphemus, and others.