ODYSSEUS

Real Name: Odysseus

Identity/Class: Human (c. 1190-1185 BC)

Occupation: King of Ithaca, Warrior, General of the Greek forces at Troy (see Trojan War)

Affiliations: Achilles, Agamemnon, Athena, Diomedes, Menelaus, Pandarus, Patroclus, Sersi

Enemies: Charybdis, Helen of Troy, Hector, Mikaboshi, Neptune, Paris, Polyphemus, Scylla, (former) Sersi

Known Relatives: Sisyphus (father, deceased), Anticlea (mother, deceased), Laertes (foster father, deceased);
    Autolycus (grandfather, deceased), Hermes (great-grandfather);
    Ctimene (half-sister);
    Callidice, Penelope (wife);
    Telemachus, Acusilius (sons), Latinus, Telegonus (sons by Sersi), Polypoetes (son by Callidice),

Aliases: Ulysses (Roman name);
    "Nobody"

Base of Operations: Ithaca (now part of modern Greece); formerly Mobile;
    formerly Troy (now part of modern Turkey)

First Appearance: Thor Annual#8 (November, 1979)

Powers/Abilities: Odysseus possessed the normal human strength of a man of his size, height and build who engaged in extensive regular exercise, but he was also an exceptionally crafty and wily ruler; he could use his wits to escape or survive virtually any obstacle. He was also a brilliant swordsman and archer.

History: (Greek/Roman Legend) - Odysseus was the maternal grandson of Autolycus, the King of Thieves, a son of Hermes, the god of thieves. His father was wily King Sisyphus of Corinth who once held the god of death, Thanatos, prisoner. Sisyphus seduced Anticleia while she was married to Laertes, King of Ithaca, who raised Odysseus as his own son. Odysseus had been named by Autolycus and received his first longbow from King Iphitus of Oechalia. He valued the bow so much that he hung it in a prominent place in his kingdom and never hunted with it, although he was reputed to be the only person who could string it. As a youth, he was schooled by the wise Mentor who was the goddess Athena in disguise.

    As a young prince, Odysseus vied for the hand of Helen, a daughter of Zeus, but he was also aware that her stepfather, Spartan king Tyndareus, was worried about a war that might erupt over the hand of Helen. Odysseus offered his talent as a cunning advisor to Tyndareus. He had Tyndareus exact a vow from the suitors to defend the union of Helen to whomever would be her husband. In return, Odysseus asked for the hand of Penelope, Tyndareusí niece. As a result, Tyndareus was able to get the suitors to pledge to defend Helenís marriage to Mycenaean Prince Menelaus. Odysseus married Penelope and they had a son, Telemachus.

    Menelaus soon had to call on Odysseus after Paris, a Trojan Prince, abducted Helen. Realizing what he wanted and wishing to avoid being drafted into war, Odysseus pretended to be psychologically disturbed by sowing his farms with salt using a horse and cow yoked to his plow. Accompanying Menelaus was Palamedas who decided that Odysseus was faking his madness. He placed Odysseusí infant son in the path of the plow and Odysseus veered off to avoid hurting him. As a result, he foiled his own ruse.

    Despite his reluctance to war, Odysseus likewise had to trick into combat Achilles of Phthia who had been hidden by his mother, the goddess, Thetis, as a girl among the daughters of King Lycomedes of Scyros. Odysseus arrived with a cartload of weapons under a pile of dresses and as the girls took the dresses, Achilles took a sword for himself out of habit and thus revealed his true identity by accident.

    Odysseus continued to use his cunning to prepare for war, but in an attempt to avoid bloodshed, he accompanied Menelaus to personally request the return of Helen by approaching King Priam of Troy under a sign of peace. When Priam had to honor her request for asylum, Odysseus returned to the Greek battlements and quickly slew Palmedas for luring into the war that was now unavoidable.

(Thor Annual#8/Greek Legend)- The Asgardian gods Thor and Loki arrived in this time through caverns under Asgard in the modern era. As Thor befriended Dardanian prince Aeneas and defended him in battle, Loki befriended Odysseus, whom he considered "a man after his own heart." Loki inspired Odysseus with the idea to create a huge horse with which he could smuggle enough soldiers into Troy to take the city. Having the Greek armies fake a retreat, Odysseus entered the huge Wooden Horse that the Trojans believed to be a gift to Athena. As Loki returned to his time with Thor, Odysseus snuck out of the horse under cover of darkness and opened the Trojan gates to the returning Greeks.

(Greek Legend)- Although Neptune supported the Greeks out of hatred of the Trojans, he was offended when Odysseus forgot to honor him for his victory. He levied a curse on him to never return home, and Odysseus wandered the Mediterranean Sea for years as he was kept at sea by storms and winds. Neptuneís was further angered when the wayward king landed on the island home of Neptuneís son, Polyphemus. Blinding the Cyclops in order to escape, Odysseus returned to his ship. Storms continually kept him off course and forced him to encounter such beasts such as Scylla, Charybdis, the Sirens, and the Laestrygonians. He encountered King Aeolus, who controlled the winds, and beseeched him for help. Aeolus calmed all the winds and contained the others in a huge flask, except the west wind, Zephyros, which Aeolus had blow Odysseus home . He instructed Odysseus to free the other winds once he returned home. However, as his ship finally neared home, Odysseus was asleep, and his men--wondering what he was keeping in the flask--opened it and freed the winds, which then blew Odysseus, his ship, and crew away from Ithaca once more.

(Etermals I#4 (fb) - BTS/Greek Myth) - Odysseus and his crew eventually became shipwrecked at Aeaea, the island home of the Eternal Sersi, near Italy. She tried to be a good hostess to the starving sailors, but was offended by their uncouth and barbarian ways. Comparing them to pigs, she turned them into pigs. Odysseus came searching for his missing men and encountered Hermes. Hermes convinced Odysseus to stand his ground and show to no fear before Sersi, and even gave him some moly, a rare plant, to strength him. Sersi became impressed by Odysseus and transformed his men back to normal. They stayed with her for several years and forgot their desires until Hermes convinced her to set them free. During the time Odysseus stayed there, one of his men, Elpenor, slid off the roof of Sersiís hamlet and died in the fall. His body remained undiscovered for several months.

(Greek Myth) - Odysseus sailed west to the river Acheron that flowed from the Underworld into the land of the Cimmerians on Earth. Using rites Sersi had showed him, he called upon the spirits of the dead for guidance. The ghost of the dead seer, Teiresias, instructed him to sail for Thrinacia and told him that his death would come from the sea among several other predictions. Odysseus also met the ghost of Achilles and told him of the bravery of his son, Neoptolemus, at Troy. He also met the ghost of his mother, Anticlea, who told him that his wife was waiting for him, despite numerous suitors. Agamemnonís ghost also told of his own murder and informed him to travel in secret. Elpenorís ghost requested Odysseus to locate his body and give him a proper burial.

    Momentarily returning to Aeaea for Elpenorís funeral, Odysseus advanced on to Thrinacia where Teiresias had warned him not to disturb the cattle of Helios that grazed there. Odysseusís crew, consumed by hunger, meanwhile ignored him and slew a few for food. The sun-god Helios complained to Zeus, who sent a storm to further delay Odysseusís ship and destroy it. Odysseus was the only survivor, since he was the only one who had not tasted the stolen meat. Lashed to keel of his ship, he drifted to Ogygia, the island home of the goddess Calypso and her sisters, the Oceanides. Protecting him from Neptune, Calypso kept him for a while and nursed him to full health She even offered to make him a god, but he refused her. Eventually growing tired of him, Calypso reported to Zeus that she believed he had suffered enough. Hermes instructed her to let him sail for home, but Neptune once more interfered and delayed him with another storm. Odysseus was rescued and spirited away by the sea-spirit, Leucothea, who had been the Theban princess Ino in life. She took him to Scherie, the home of the Phaeacians, who lived in the good graces of Neptune.

    Carried home to Ithaca, Odysseus was met by Athena who reminded him of Agamemnonís warnings. One of his servants, Eumaeus, helped to conceal his identity as Odysseus met his son, Telemachus, who was now a grown man. Realizing that countless suitors stood in their way of restoring order to the land, he continued to hide his identity from Penelope as she vowed to marry the one man who could string the bow her husband had received from Iphitus and use it to fire an arrow through the handles of twelve axes. No man could even string the bow until Odysseus, still disguised as a homeless person, strung the bow before the eyes of the stunned suitors. As Telemachus and Eumaeus sealed the courtyard to keep the suitors from escaping, Odysseus revealed his identity and slew all the suitors who had been pillaging his land as well as the servants that had aided them.

    The numerous deaths did not sit well with Odysseusí elders or countrymen, considering that many of the suitors came from powerful local families and from abroad. Fearing he had opened a cause for another war, the elders called upon Neoptolemus to arbitrate the volatile situation. The young prince wanted Odysseusí land for himself and dragged out the arbitration, further exacerbating many of the hostilities. Odysseus finally realized what was occurring and exiled the young troublemaker from his kingdom.

    Still disguised as Mentor, Athena, however, told Odysseus that he would have to be absolved of the murders by the King of Thesprotia. Along the way, he checked on the welfare of his own cattle kept grazing near Elis and was detained by King Polyxenus who wanted to hear of his adventures. In Thesprotia, he learned that the king had died some time before and had left Queen Callidice without an heir to the throne. He married her for the sole reason of serving as king of the area long enough to end the dissension there and give her a son, Polypoetes, who would be her successor so that he could return to Ithaca.

    Odysseus returned to Ithaca and had another son by Penelope named Acusilaus. Sersi, meanwhile, had borne him a son too named Telegonus. Wishing to meet his father, Telegonus left Aeaea and ended up landing at Ithaca without realizing it. Raiding the land for provisions, he was met by Odysseus in combat and killed him without knowing he was his father. Odysseus ended up dying from a spear tipped in the venom of a stingray that actually fulfilled Teiresiasís prediction of Odysseusís death coming from the sea. Realizing his grievous error, Telegonus took Odysseusís body and family back to Sersiís island for the funeral.

(Ares#3 - BTS) - Odysseus was among the heroes of Earth who were incarnated in Olympus to aid in battle against the forces of Mikaboshi, but Odysseus was slain in battle.

Comments: Adapted by Roy Thomas, John Buscema and Tony DeZuniga.

Lokiís reference to Odysseus as an Argive prince in Thor Annual#8 is erroneous unless he was just being sarcastic.

The use of the name "Greek" here is inaccurate in that term did not yet exist in Odysseusí time, but is used for convenience purposes.

    Some of these events and facts may have occurred somewhat different in the Marvel Universe especially considering where the Eternals were involved. Odysseusí Mentor might have actually been Mentor (Alars) of the Eternals and Athena might have actually been the Eternal Thena, daughter of Zuras. While Circe was most definitely Sersi, it is not known if some other Eternal might have posed as Neptune, Odysseusís main antagonist. There is no Eternal counterpart for Calypso either.

    It is also claimed that among the ghosts whom Odysseus recognized was Hercules, the son of Zeus. His presence is unexplained considering his godhood. It could, however, have been Hercules of the Dactyl tribe who left Crete and arrived in Elis where he instituted the first Olympic Games.

    There is one story about Odysseus that cannot be reconciled with his history. It claims that he had killed Penelope for being unfaithful and that he had sent her body back to her father, Icarius, in Sparta. He then married the daughter of King Thoas, an ally of Troy and died in Aetolia of old age. Since this account denies Penelopeís reputation of faithfulness and even makes her the mother of the goat-god Pan (who actually lived as early as the war with the Titans), it may be a local legend invented by the Aetolians to connect themselves to Odysseus by confusing Penelope with Penelope, the daughter of King Dryops.

    The adventures of the Trojan War and Odysseus' adventures at sea are retold in the classic The Iliad and the Odyssey (respectively).

    Odysseusís story was very faithfully created in the 2000 TV-miniseries Odysseus starring Armand Assante as the lost hero and the wonderful Isabella Rosselini as Athena. Although some events were dropped or over-simplified for the sake of the story, this movie is much superior to the 1953 version starring Kirk Douglas as the hero.

Ulysses was actually shown in the fb in Tales of Suspense#10, referred to by name. In this version, he blinds the cyclops for 5 hours.--John McDonagh

by Will U and Prime Eternal

CLARIFICATIONS:
Odysseus (Ulysses) is not to be confused with:

Telemachus should not be confused with:


Telemachus

He was the son of Odysseus. He had to watch, unable to do anything as suitors pillaged and besieged his fatherís land and abused the generosity of his mother as their hostess. Too young to be master of his own home, his anger was placated by Mentor, who sent him to visit the compatriots of his father to enquire on his whereabouts. Returning to Ithaca, he helped his father to slay his motherís suitors. After his half-brother Telegonus accidentally killed his father, Telemachus traveled to Aeaea where he became the beloved of Sersi.

--Captain America I#397/2


















Images taken from:
Thor Annual#8, page 9, panel 3
Captain America I#397, page 27, panel 5


Appearances:
Eternals I#4 (October, 1976) - Jack Kirby (writer/pencils/editor), John Verpoorten (inks)
Thor Annual#8 (1979) - Roy Thomas (writer/editor), John Buscema (pencils), Tony DeZuniga (inks)
Ares#3 (May, 2006) - Michael Avon Oeming (writer), Travel Foreman (penciler), Derek Fridolfs (inker), Warren Simons (editor)


Last updated: 09/04/11

Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.

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