Why Was Odysseus Clever?

Odysseus exemplifies cleverness several times in "The Iliad" and "The Odyssey" as he fights in the Trojan War and tries to return home. According to Shmoop, Odysseus displays clever behavior when he flees the cyclops by saying his name is "nobody." The Ithacan also outwits sea monsters such as the Sirens, Scylla and Charybdis.

Odysseus and his men slip away from the cyclops Polyphemus in two steps. The king of Ithaca blinds Polyphemus after the giant eats some of his men. Then Odysseus lashes his men to the underside of the cyclops' sheep to sneak away from the monster as he attempts to check for escapees by touching the backs of his flock. When other cyclops ask Polyphemus who had done this, Odysseus gives him the name "nobody" so the cyclops says, "Nobody blinded me." His fellows think Polyphemus has gone insane.

Odysseus also receives help from the gods and the dead, according to the Encyclopedia Mythica. While in the underworld, the king gets help from dead people he knows in order to defeat the Sirens, Scylla and Charybdis. To get past the Sirens, Odysseus orders his men to plug their ears with wax so they do not come under the spell.

The type of cleverness displayed by Odysseus is called "metis" in Greek. The word "metis" is similar to "outis," which translates to "nobody." Odysseus is often called "polymetis" in Greek mythology.