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Odysseus

The meaning of «odysseus»

Odysseus (/əˈdɪsiəs/;[1] Greek: Ὀδυσσεύς, Ὀδυσεύς, translit. Odysseús.mw-parser-output .noitalic{font-style:normal}, Odyseús [o.dy(s).sěu̯s]), also known by the Latin variant Ulysses (US: /juːˈlɪsiːz/, UK: /ˈjuːlɪsiːz, juːˈlɪsiːz/; Latin: Ulysses, Ulixes), is a legendary Greek king of Ithaca and the hero of Homer's epic poem the Odyssey. Odysseus also plays a key role in Homer's Iliad and other works in that same epic cycle.[2]

Son of Laërtes and Anticlea, husband of Penelope, and father of Telemachus and Acusilaus,[3] Odysseus is renowned for his intellectual brilliance, guile, and versatility (polytropos), and is thus known by the epithet Odysseus the Cunning (Greek: μῆτις, translit. mêtis, lit. "cunning intelligence"[4]). He is most famous for his nostos, or "homecoming", which took him ten eventful years after the decade-long Trojan War.

The form Ὀδυσ(σ)εύς Odys(s)eus is used starting in the epic period and through the classical period, but various other forms are also found. In vase inscriptions, we find the variants Oliseus (Ὀλισεύς), Olyseus (Ὀλυσεύς), Olysseus (Ὀλυσσεύς), Olyteus (Ὀλυτεύς), Olytteus (Ὀλυττεύς) and Ōlysseus (Ὠλυσσεύς). The form Oulixēs (Οὐλίξης) is attested in an early source in Magna Graecia (Ibycus, according to Diomedes Grammaticus), while the Greek grammarian Aelius Herodianus has Oulixeus (Οὐλιξεύς).[5] In Latin, he was known as Ulixēs or (considered less correct) Ulyssēs. Some have supposed that "there may originally have been two separate figures, one called something like Odysseus, the other something like Ulixes, who were combined into one complex personality."[6] However, the change between d and l is common also in some Indo-European and Greek names,[7] and the Latin form is supposed to be derived from the Etruscan Uthuze (see below), which perhaps accounts for some of the phonetic innovations.

The etymology of the name is unknown. Ancient authors linked the name to the Greek verbs odussomai (ὀδύσσομαι) “to be wroth against, to hate”,[8] to oduromai (ὀδύρομαι) “to lament, bewail”,[9][10] or even to ollumi (ὄλλυμι) “to perish, to be lost”.[11][12] Homer relates it to various forms of this verb in references and puns. In Book 19 of the Odyssey, where Odysseus' early childhood is recounted, Euryclea asks the boy's grandfather Autolycus to name him. Euryclea seems to suggest a name like Polyaretos, "for he has much been prayed for" (πολυάρητος) but Autolycus "apparently in a sardonic mood" decided to give the child another name commemorative of "his own experience in life":[13] "Since I have been angered (ὀδυσσάμενος odyssamenos) with many, both men and women, let the name of the child be Odysseus".[14] Odysseus often receives the patronymic epithet Laertiades (Λαερτιάδης), "son of Laërtes". In the Iliad and Odyssey there are several further epithets used to describe Odysseus.

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