OdysseusThe legendary Greek hero Odysseus was the king of Ithaca, a small island off the western coast of Greece. Odysseus was one of the many suitors of the beautiful Helen, the daughter of the king Tyndareus. Tyndareus feared that a fight could take place among the numerous suitors if he chose one of them as the future husband of Helen. Odysseus advised Tyndareus to convince each of them to promise to respect and assist whomever was chosen by him as Helen's future husband.
Tyndareus offered to Menelaus the hand of Helen, and as an expression of gratitude, he offered Odysseus the hand of Penelope, a cousin of Helen. Only a few years after this, Paris of Troy abducted Helen. Menelaus asked all the old suitors of Helen to help him to fight against the aggressor. That is how the war of Troy began. To honor the promise he made as a suitor of Helen, Odysseus had to leave his wife Penelope and his newborn child Telemachus to fight against Troy. Long years passed until he could finally prepare to return to Ithaca.
Unfortunately, during his journey back to Ithaca, a violent storm made his ship land on Sicily, where the gigantic Cyclopes lived. To save himself and his companions, Odysseus blinded Polyphemus, one of the Cyclopes, who threatened to eat them. The sea god Poseidon, who was the father of Polyphemus, became so angry that he decided to obstruct Odysseus'return.
Odysseus encountered many obstacles, but his renowned cunning and intelligence helped him to survive the numerous difficulties that caused the death of all his companions. After many adventures and ten years of wandering, he finally reached Ithaca. During his long absence, many of his enemies tried to convince Odysseus' wife Penelope to get married again in order to take over his place as king of Ithaca.
Penelope had not seen her husband since the beginning of the war of Troy, twenty years before. After so many years, she was considered a widow. Pressured by her suitors, she declared that she would marry only the man who could bend an extremely hard bow that belonged to Odysseus. All the suitors attempted this, but none succeeded. Disguised as a beggar Odysseus bent his old bow, reclaimed his wife and killed his enemies.
Because of Odysseus' long journey to reach his home, a NASA space mission has been named
after his better known Roman name:
The Ulysses mission.