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Odysseus Essay, Research Paper


Odysseus, in Greek legend, a Greek hero, ruler of the island of Ithaca and one of the leaders of the Greek army during the Trojan War. Homer’s Odyssey recounts Odysseus’s adventures and ultimate return home ten years after the fall of Troy. Initially, Odysseus was mentioned as the son of Laertes, king of Ithaca, although in later tradition Sisyphus, king of Corinth, was considered his real father, his mother having later married Laertes. At first Odysseus refused to accompany the Greeks to Troy, feigning madness by sowing his fields with salt, but the Greeks placed his son Telemachus in front of the plow, and Odysseus was compelled to admit his ruse and join the invading army. Throughout the Iliad of Homer, he is portrayed as a brave, sagacious, cunning warrior, and he is awarded the famous armor of the Greek warrior Achilles on the latter’s death. Odysseus was responsible for bringing the Greek heroes Neoptolemus and Philoctetes to Troy for the final stage of the conflict. In the Odyssey it is said that he proposed the strategem of the Trojan Horse, the means by which Troy was conquered.

In the works of later classical writers, particularly those of the Greek poet Pindar, the Greek playwright Euripides, and the Roman poet Vergil, Odysseus is characterized as a cowardly and scheming politician. In Latin his name is rendered as Ulysses.


Orion (mythology), in Greek mythology, handsome giant and mighty hunter, the son of Poseidon, the god of the sea, and Euryale, the Gorgon. Orion fell in love with Metrope, the daughter of Oenopion, king of Chios, and sought her in marriage. Oenopion, however, constantly deferred his consent to the marriage, and Orion attempted to gain possession of the maiden by violence. Incensed at his behavior, her father, with the aid of the god Dionysus, threw him into a deep sleep and blinded him. Orion then consulted an oracle, who told him he could regain his sight by going to the east and letting the rays of the rising sun fall on his eyes. His sight restored, he lived on Crete as the huntsman of the goddess Artemis. The goddess eventually killed him, however, because she was jealous of his affection for Aurora, goddess of the dawn. After Orion’s death, Artemis placed him in the heavens as a constellation.

Orion, in Greek mythology, a mighty hunter beloved by the goddess Artemis; tricked by her brother Apollo, Artemis shot Orion with an arrow; he was placed among the stars.


Pandora, in Greek mythology, first woman on earth, created by the god Hephaestus at the request of the god Zeus. Zeus wished to counteract the blessing of fire, which had been stolen from the gods by the Titan Prometheus and given to human beings. Endowed by the gods with every attribute of beauty and goodness, Pandora was sent to Epimetheus, who was happy to have her for his wife, although he had been warned by his brother Prometheus never to accept anything from Zeus. In bestowing their gifts on Pandora, the gods had given her a box, warning her never to open it. Her curiosity finally overcame her, however, and she opened the mysterious box, from which flew innumerable plagues for the body and sorrows for the mind. In terror, she tried to shut the box, but only Hope, the one good thing among many evils the box had contained, remained to comfort humanity in its misfortunes. In another legend, the box contained blessings that would have been preserved if Pandora had not allowed them to escape.

In Greek legend Pandora was the first woman on Earth. When it came time to populate the Earth, the gods delegated the task to Prometheus and his brother Epimetheus. Epimetheus (whose name means “afterthought” or “hindsight”) began with the animals to whom he gave all the best gifts strength and speed, cunning, and the protection of fur and feathers. Too late, he realized there was no quality left to make mankind a match for the beasts. After Prometheus (”foresight”) had stolen fire from heaven and given it to mortals, an angry Zeus determined to counteract this blessing. Zeus ordered Hephaestus to fashion a woman out of clay and adorned her with gifts from all the gods. Aphrodite gave her beauty, Hermes persuasion, and Athena feminine skills. She was named Pandora (”all-giving”).

The ancient Greek poet Hesiod, in his ‘Works and Days’, said that Zeus sent her to Earth. There Epimetheus married her despite a warning from his brother Prometheus to accept no gifts from Zeus. Pandora either found or brought with her a mysterious jar. Epimetheus ordered Pandora never to open it. Secretly, however, she removed the lid. All human ills and evils flew out and covered the world. Hope alone was caught inside the jar.


Paris (mythology), also called Alexander, in Greek mythology, son of Priam and Hecuba, king and queen of Troy. A prophecy had warned that Paris would someday be the ruin of Troy and, therefore, Priam exposed him on Mount Ida, where he was found and brought up by shepherds. He was tending his sheep when an argument arose among the goddesses Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite as to who was the most beautiful. The three goddesses asked him to be the judge. Each tried to bribe him, Hera promising to make him ruler of Europe and Asia, Athena to help him lead Troy to victory against the Greeks, and Aphrodite to give him the most beautiful woman in the world, Helen, the wife of Menelaus, king of Sparta. Paris favored Aphrodite, even though at the time he was in love with the nymph Oenone. His decision made Hera and Athena bitter enemies of his country. This and the abduction of Helen, in Menelaus’s absence, brought about the Trojan War.

In the tenth year of the siege of Troy that followed, Paris and Menelaus met in hand-to-hand combat. Menelaus would easily have been the victor except for Aphrodite, who enveloped Paris in a cloud, and carried him back to Troy. Before the fall of the city, Paris was mortally wounded by the archer Philoctetes. Paris then went to Oenone, who had a magic drug that could cure him. She refused him, but when he died, Oenone killed herself out of misery.

Greek legend tells how Paris started the Trojan War by carrying off beautiful Helen of Sparta. Paris was the son of King Priam of Troy. His mother was Hecuba. Before his birth Hecuba dreamed that her son was a flaming torch. This was taken to mean that he would grow up to destroy the city. Because of this he was taken to Mount Ida and left to die.

A shepherd rescued Paris. He grew up among the shepherds and won the love of Oenone, the daughter of a river god. Their happiness was brief. As Paris tended his sheep, the goddesses Aphrodite, Athena, and Hera appeared before him. Paris was asked to award a golden apple to the most beautiful one. He gave it to Aphrodite, who had promised him the most beautiful woman in the world.

Paris then left Oenone and went to Troy. There he was recognized as the king’s son. Later he sailed to Sparta and carried off Helen, the most beautiful woman. In the war that followed, Paris treacherously slew the Greek hero Achilles but was himself wounded in battle. He begged help from Oenone, but she was angry because he had deserted her. She refused, and Paris died of his wound.


Pegasus (mythology), in Greek mythology, winged horse, son of Poseidon, god of the sea, and the Gorgon Medusa. Pegasus sprang from Medusa’s neck when she was killed by the hero Perseus. Shortly after its birth, the magic steed struck the ground on Mount Helicon, and on the spot a spring, later sacred to the Muses and believed to be a source for poetic inspiration, began to flow. All longed in vain to catch and tame the creature, and this became the obsession of Bellerophon, prince of Corinth. On the advice of a seer, Bellerophon spent a night in the temple of the goddess Athena. As he slept, the goddess appeared to him with a golden bridle and told him that it would enable him to capture Pegasus. When Bellerophon awoke, he found the golden bridle beside him, and with it he easily captured and tamed the winged horse. Pegasus thereafter proved to be a great help to Bellerophon and aided the hero in his adventures against the Amazons and the Chimaera. Bellerophon was overcome by his own pride, however. When he attempted to fly to the top of Olympus to join the gods, the wise horse threw him, leaving Bellerophon to wander disconsolately about, hated by the gods. Pegasus found shelter in the Olympian stalls and was entrusted by Zeus with bringing him his lightning and thunderbolts.

According to Greek mythology the winged horse Pegasus sprang from the blood of the Gorgon Medusa as she was beheaded by the hero Perseus. Using Athena’s gift of a golden bridle, Bellerophon caught and tamed Pegasus. Mounted on Pegasus, Bellerophon was invincible. He was able to kill the Chimera, a fire-breathing monster, and he succeeded in conquering the fierce Amazons (see Amazon).

Pegasus remained the faithful companion of Bellerophon. Bellerophon angered the gods when he tried to ride Pegasus up to Mount Olympus, home of the gods. Pegasus refused and threw Bellerophon, who fell to the Earth, lame and blind. Pegasus, however, was placed among the stars. A constellation was named after him.


Penelope, in Greek mythology, daughter of Icarus, king of Sparta, wife of Odysseus, king of Ithaca, and mother of Telemachus. Although her husband was gone for more than 20 years during and after the Trojan War, Penelope never doubted that he would return, and she remained faithful to him. She was wooed by many suitors who devoured and wasted Odysseus’s property. Unwilling to choose a new husband, Penelope kept their advances in check under the pretext of completing a shroud that she was weaving for Laertes, her father-in-law. Each night she unraveled the work she completed during the day, and by this means avoided having to choose a husband. Finally betrayed by a maid, Penelope was compelled to finish the work. The suitors were preparing to force a decision when Odysseus returned in disguise, killed them, and revealed his identity to his faithful wife.


Perseus (mythology), in Greek mythology, slayer of the Gorgon Medusa; he was the son of Zeus, father of the gods, and of Dana?, daughter of Acrisius, king of Argos. Warned that he would be killed by his grandson, Acrisius locked mother and child in a chest and cast them into the sea. They drifted to the island of Seriphus, where they were rescued and where Perseus grew to manhood. Polydectes, king of Seriphus, fell in love with Dana?, and, fearing that Perseus might interfere with his plans, sent him to procure the head of Medusa, a monster whose glance turned men to stone.

Aided by Hermes, messenger of the gods, Perseus made his way to the Gray Women, three old hags who shared one eye between them. Perseus took their eye and refused to return it until they gave him directions for reaching the nymphs of the north. From the nymphs he received winged sandals, a magic wallet that would fit whatever was put into it, and a cap to make him invisible. Equipped with a sword from Hermes that could never be bent or broken and a shield from the goddess Athena, which would protect him from being turned to stone, Perseus found Medusa and killed her. Invisible in his cap, he was able to escape the wrath of her sisters and with her head in the wallet flew on his winged sandals toward home.

As he was passing Ethiopia, he rescued the princess Andromeda as she was about to be sacrificed to a sea monster and took her with him as his wife. At Seriphus he freed his mother from Polydectes by using Medusa’s head to turn the king and his followers to stone. All then returned to Greece, where Perseus accidentally killed his grandfather Acrisius with a discus, thus fulfilling the prophecy. According to one legend, Perseus went to Asia, where his son Perses ruled over the Persians, from whom they were said to have gotten their name.

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