Odyssey Characters

Agamemnon Former king of Mycenae, brother of Menelaus, and commander of the Achaean forces at Troy. Odysseus encounters Agamemnon’s spirit in Hades. Agamemnon was murdered by his wife, Clytemnestra, and her lover, Aegisthus, upon his return from the war. He was later avenged by his son Orestes. Their story is constantly repeated in the Odyssey to offer an inverted image of the fortunes of Odysseus and Telemachus.
Anticlea In Greek mythology, Anticlea (Ἀντίκλεια, “Without-Fame”) was the daughter of Autolycus and Amphithea and mother of Odysseus by Laërtes (though some say by Sisyphus). She was also the granddaughter of the trickster god Hermes (who was the father of her father, Autolycus) Tiresias. In the underworld, Odysseus encounters many spirits, including that of his mother, Anticlea. Initially, he rebuffs her since he is waiting for the prophet to approach.After speaking with Tiresias, however, Odysseus allows his mother to come near and lets her speak. She asks him why he is in the underworld while alive, and he tells her about his various troubles and futile attempts to get home. Then he asks her how she died and inquires about his family at home. She tells him that she died of grief, longing for him while he was at war. Anticlea also says that Laërtes (Odysseus’ father) “grieves continually” for Odysseus and lives in a hovel in the countryside, clad in rags and sleeping on the floor. Anticlea further describes the condition of Odysseus’ wife Penelope and son Telemachus.Penelope has not yet remarried but is overwhelmed with sadness and longing for her husband while Telemachus acts as magistrate for Odysseus’ properties. Odysseus attempts to embrace his mother three times but discovers that she is incorporeal, and his arms simply pass through her. She explains that this is how all ghosts are, and he expresses great sorrow.
Antinous The most arrogant of Penelope’s suitors. Antinous leads the campaign to have Telemachus killed. Unlike the other suitors, he is never portrayed sympathetically, and he is the first to die when Odysseus returns.
Athena Daughter of Zeus and goddess of wisdom, purposeful battle, and the womanly arts. Athena assists Odysseus and Telemachus with divine powers throughout the epic, and she speaks up for them in the councils of the gods on Mount Olympus. She often appears in disguise as Mentor, an old friend of Odysseus.
Calypso The beautiful nymph who falls in love with Odysseus when he lands on her island-home of Ogygia. Calypso holds him prisoner there for seven years until Hermes, the messenger god, persuades her to let him go.
Circe The beautiful witch-goddess who transforms Odysseus’s crew into swine when he lands on her island. With Hermes’ help, Odysseus resists Circe’s powers and then becomes her lover, living in luxury at her side for a year.
Eurymachus A manipulative, deceitful suitor. Eurymachus’s charisma and duplicity allow him to exert some influence over the other suitors.
Eurycleia The aged and loyal servant who nursed Odysseus and Telemachus when they were babies. Eurycleia is well informed about palace intrigues and serves as confidante to her masters. She keeps Telemachus’s journey secret from Penelope, and she later keeps Odysseus’s identity a secret after she recognizes a scar on his leg.
Odysseus The protagonist of the Odyssey. Odysseus fought among the other Greek heroes at Troy and now struggles to return to his kingdom in Ithaca. Odysseus is the husband of Queen Penelope and the father of Prince Telemachus. Though a strong and courageous warrior, he is most renowned for his cunning. He is a favorite of the goddess Athena, who often sends him divine aid, but a bitter enemy of Poseidon, who frustrates his journey at every turn.
Poseidon God of the sea. As the suitors are Odysseus’s mortal antagonists, Poseidon is his divine antagonist. He despises Odysseus for blinding his son, the Cyclops Polyphemus, and constantly hampers his journey home. Ironically, Poseidon is the patron of the seafaring Phaeacians, who ultimately help to return Odysseus to Ithaca.
Eumaeus In Greek mythology, Eumaeus (Greek: Εὔμαιος, Eumaios) was Odysseus’s swineherd and friend. His father, Ktesios son of Ormenos, was king of an island called Syria. When he was a young child a Phoenician sailor seduced his nurse, a slave, who agreed to bring the child among other treasures in exchange for their help in her escape. The nurse was killed by Artemis on the journey by sea, but the sailors continued to Ithaca where Odysseus’ father Laertes bought him as a slave. Thereafter he was brought up with Odysseus and his sister Ctimene (or Ktimene), and was treated by Anticleia, their mother, almost as Ctimene’s equal.In Homer’s Odyssey, Eumaeus is the first mortal that Odysseus meets after his return to Ithaca after fighting in the Trojan War. He has four dogs, ‘savage as wild beasts,’ who protect his pigs. Although he does not recognise his old master — Odysseus is in disguise — and has his misgivings, Eumaeus treats Odysseus well, offering food and shelter to one whom he thinks is a mere indigent. On being pushed to explain himself, Odysseus spins a distorted tale, misleading Eumaeus into believing that he is the son not of Laertes but of Castor.
Tiresias A Theban prophet who inhabits the underworld. Tiresias meets Odysseus when Odysseus journeys to the underworld in Book 11. He shows Odysseus how to get back to Ithaca and allows Odysseus to communicate with the other souls in Hades.
Telemachus Odysseus’s son. An infant when Odysseus left for Troy, Telemachus is about twenty at the beginning of the story. He is a natural obstacle to the suitors desperately courting his mother, but despite his courage and good heart, he initially lacks the poise and confidence to oppose them. His maturation, especially during his trip to Pylos and Sparta in Books 3 and 4, provides a subplot to the epic. Athena often assists him.
Penelope Wife of Odysseus and mother of Telemachus. Penelope spends her days in the palace pining for the husband who left for Troy twenty years earlier and never returned. Homer portrays her as sometimes flighty and excitable but also clever and steadfastly true to her husband.
Polyphemus One of the Cyclopes (uncivilized one-eyed giants) whose island Odysseus comes to soon after leaving Troy. Polyphemus imprisons Odysseus and his crew and tries to eat them, but Odysseus blinds him through a clever ruse and manages to escape. In doing so, however, Odysseus angers Polyphemus’s father, Poseidon.
Eurylochus In Greek mythology, Eurylochus, or Eurýlokhos (Εὐρύλοχος) appears in Homer’s Odyssey as second-in-command of Odysseus’ ship during the return to Ithaca after the Trojan War. He was also a relative of Odysseus through marriage. He is portrayed as an unpleasant cowardly individual who undermines Odysseus and stirs up trouble.When the ship stopped on Aeaea, home of Circe the sorcress, Eurylochus and Odysseus draw lots to lead a group of twenty two men to explore the island. Eurylochus is chosen. After the crew spots a column of smoke, Eurylochus leads his expedition towards the source. They soon near a palace surrounded with wild but magically benign animals. Inside the palace is Circe singing, and (led by Polites) all of Eurylochus’ party except for himself rush inside to greet her. Eurylochus suspects her treachery, and when she turns the rest of the expedition into pigs, Eurylochus escapes and warns Odysseus and the portion of the crew who stayed on the ship, thus enabling Odysseus to attempt a rescue. When Odysseus goes to save his men, Eurylochus refuses to guide him and urges him to escape and leave the men to their fate.When Odysseus returns from Circe having rescued the men, Eurylochus insults Odysseus. Odysseus considers killing him but the crewmen drag them apart.After making a truce with Odysseus, Circe advises him to see the prophet Tiresias for more advices to safely go back home. Tiresias later instructed Odysseus not to touch the cattle on the island of the sun god Helios, but Eurylochus convinced the hungry and mutinous crew to kill and eat some of them. As a punishment Odysseus’ ship was destroyed and all of his crew, including Eurylochus, were killed in a storm sent by Zeus. Only Odysseus survives.

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