For ten long years’ war raged between the Greeks and Trojans with no end in sight. Each side equally matched, both in valour and skilled fighters. It was the era of the golden age, men with a status of demi-gods and many others favoured by the immortals. The war won with a trick, a ruse which duped the Trojans and sealed their fate. Hektor’s funeral marks the conclusion of the Iliad, there’s no mention of how and who wins the conflict. Yet how it was won has become part of the story’s lore. It is also why many people believe Homer is not the author of both the Iliad and Odyssey. Those who have been following my blog know what my thoughts are and new readers may refer back to the post.
Odysseus ruled a small island west of mainland Greece called Ithaka. Unlike other kings, his province was modest and not as wealthy. Nontheless, he was regarded in high esteem and considered to be “equal in wisdom to Zeus”. Favoured by the goddess Athene, she helped and encouraged him throughout the story.
‘The heavy weapon pierced the glittering shield, forced its way through the ornate body armour and ripped the flesh clean off Odysseus’ side, though Pallas Athene did not allow it to penetrate his innards.’
Iliad, Book 11, Lines 437-439
‘Hear me, goddess, be kind and help me. Come and speed my feet.
So he spoke in prayer, and Pallas Athene heard him and lightened his feet, arms and all his limbs.’
Iliad, Book 23, Lines 770-774
He was renowned for his skill with the bow and no slouch as swordsman, though his ability with the lesser valued weapon was given precedence in the Odyssey. In a number of scenes, he was the focal character, either leading men into the battle, rallying the Greeks and participating in raids. He wasn’t shy in coming forward and did not hesitate lecturing Agamemnon or trying to persuade Akhilleus into re-joining the combat.
‘… they [Odysseus and Diomedes] set out through the black night like a pair of lions, picking their way through the slaughter, the bodies, the armour and the black blood.’
Iliad, Book 10, Lines 296-299
Odysseus, a hero of the war, did not come away unscathed. Like the other characters of the Greek contingent, when he and his men left the shores of Troy, they encountered many obstacles as chronicled in the Odyssey.
I am not sure whether I like the character of Odysseus, though in the movie Troy he’s more sympathetic. Perhaps it the duplicity of his nature that colours my opinion of him. In any case, the man who created the greatest ruse in martial literary history led the destruction of a whole race of people. No wonder he must pay for his hubris.
Thank you for visiting and reading. As always, I look forward to your comments.