Odysseus in the Iliad: The Tale of Ulysses and the Trojan War

Odysseus in the iliadOdysseus in the Iliad is a Greek warrior and wise man who left to fight in the Trojan War. His story was a famous one because of how clever he was in helping fight and create reconciliations between Agamemnon and Achilles. He was the King of Ithaca, and while he was away, he had to face many unique and interesting challenges in the war.

Read this to find out just what those challenges were.

Who Is Odysseus in the Iliad? Background to Homer’s Famous Story

Odysseus (or Ulysses, his Roman counterpart) is one of the main characters in the Greek poet Homer’s famous epic poem, the Iliad. Homer also wrote another epic poem named the Odyssey, in which Odysseus plays a role, but that comes after the Iliad.

The Iliad and the Odyssey were written around the 7th or 8th centuries BC. They’ve become so famous for the information they share about the Trojan War but also because of the excitement.

As mentioned before, he was the King of Ithaca, legendary for his wisdom, cleverness, and ability to solve problems. He was also a skilled fighter and warrior, but that was not as important as the strength of his mind. In the Iliad, the poem begins right in the middle of the Trojan War, and both armies were in battle for ten years. He is on the side of the Greeks and in position of an advisor to General Agamemnon.

Odysseus had many roles in the Trojan War which made him renowned and helped turn the tide of battle.

What Did Odysseus Do in The Trojan War?

Odysseus role in the trojan warOdysseus’ role in the Trojan War was to be an advisor to the general as well as to serve in the Greek army. Since it is a long war, one of Odysseus’ skills and roles was to restore the faith and morale within the troops.

The general was a little bit hot-tempered and would threaten to leave Troy every so often. However, Odysseus kept Agamemnon in the war, even when he threatened to return home.

He was shown as a character of good sense, good moral fiber, and strength throughout the poem. On another note, Odysseus played a role with the famous warrior, Achilles.

It was prophesied that Achilles was the only way the Greeks could win the war against Troy. So, Odysseus and others had to search for him and recruit him. He also had to mediate disagreements often between Achilles and Agamemnon.

In addition, it was Odysseus’ idea to use the Trojan Horse to get into the city and attack, and he stole a team of fine horses from a king working with the Trojans.

Odysseus and Diomedes: The Night Expedition in the Trojan War

During the war, when the Greeks were falling behind, and realized that they needed whatever was necessary to fight the war, they decided to look beyond their own camp.

King Rhesus was a mythical Thracian king, and he was on the side of the Trojans, but when he arrived in Troy to assist them, he ended up not even being able to fight. Odysseus heard about the king’s famous set of horses, who were said to be the finest in the land.

Together, Odysseus and Diomedes, the Lord of War, snuck into his Trojan camp and killed him in his tent. Then, they stole his famous horses, hoping their acquisition would help them gain progress in the war.

Odysseus and the Trojan Horse: The Ingenious Plan That Went Down in History

While Odysseus did many things for the war effort against Troy, the most famous and well-remembered one is the Trojan Horse. It is so famous that we even use it in sayings today.

At the final moments of the Trojan War, the Greeks decide to trick the Trojans into thinking that they won. Odysseus had them build a giant wooden horse as a parting gift because the horse is the symbol of Troy. Leaving it outside the city and making it look like their ships sailed away.

But in reality, there were warriors hiding inside of the large horse. It was their last chance to try and find a way to end the war was victorious.

Once the city doors were open, and the horse got rolled inside, the warriors waited and emerged under the cover of darkness. They took over the city, after the gates were opened the soldiers waiting for the que outside.

This was when Odysseus and his partner Diomedes capture the Palladian, the statue that Troy needed for its protection. The war is ended, and because of Odysseus’ genius, the Greeks were victorious.

Some scholars question whether the war in general, as well as the Trojan Horse, were actually real. But archeological evidence found in Turkey states that the war likely did happen, but we’re still not so sure about the horse.

Odysseus in the Iliad: Important Relationships Odysseus Had With Others

There were several important relationships that Odysseus has with others in the poem. These include Agamemnon, Achilles, and Diomedes.

Let’s explore his relationship with each one of them:

  • Odysseus and Agamemnon: Agamemnon was the brother of Menelaus, King of Sparta, and he wages the war against Troy. Odysseus was one of his advisors and helped him make clever decisions throughout the war
  • Odysseus and Achilles: Achilles was prophesied to be the only one to help the Greeks win the Trojan War. Odysseus and others traveled to find him and bring to Troy. However, they had to use tricks to get him to reveal himself to them
  • Odysseus and Diomedes: Diomedes is another warrior who came to participate in the Trojan War. He and Odysseus went on many ventures during that time, and he often helped Odysseus

Odysseus Versus Achilles: The Opposing Forces in the Iliad

Many believe that Odysseus and Achilles are opposing forces in Homer’s poem. In the poem, Achilles is often hot-tempered, full of anger and passion, and his battle skills are unmatched. At one point because of his many disagreements with Agamemnon, Achilles refused to fight, even Odysseus failed to get him to return.

Nevertheless, Achilles’ partner Patroclus died in battle, and that is why convinced him to return. In opposition to Achilles, Odysseus was always shown as measured, clever, and full of diplomacy. The poem displays him as the man best suited to deal with all manner of crises and situations. He is the level-headed one among the group of characters, and he is successful most of the time.

Summary of Why The Trojan War Took Place

The Trojan War began because Paris, Prince of Troy, kidnapped Queen Helen, who was married to King Menelaus of Sparta. The Greeks traveled to Troy to fight and bring back their queen, and they camped outside the city of Troy’s walls.


Odysseus role in the iliadTake a look at the main points about Odysseus in the Iliad covered in the article above.

  • Odysseus is a Greek hero and one of the main characters of Homer’s poems: the Iliad and the Odyssey, written in the seventh and eighth century
  • The Iliad is the poem that comes first, and it details the history of the Trojan War and Odysseus’ involvement in it
  • It is the main source for information we have on the Trojan War
  • Odysseus who was the king of Ithaca, fought in the Trojan War and assist General Agamemnon, brother to the King of Sparta
  • Odysseus was clever, wise, and diplomatic, and he was the wisest of the characters in the poem
  • He helped reconcile and solve disputes between Agamemnon and Achilles, the great warrior of the war
  • He had to convince Achilles to join the war, and he has to help keep Achilles’ temper in check
  • Scholars believe that Achilles and Odysseus are opposing forces in the poem
  • Along with another advisor of the general, Odysseus stole a team of horses and killed their owner to help them win the war
  • He is also the one who came up with the idea for the Trojan Horse
  • The Greeks built a horse as a gift for the Trojans, signaling that they’d given up on the war
  • They even sent their ships away, but warriors were hidden inside – itself, and there were warriors also hidden away outside the city gates
  • Once the horse was wheeled into the city, the warriors escaped the horse and ravaged the city, letting the others into the city to help

Odysseus in the Iliad played a large role, portraying the traits of wisdom, cleverness, diplomacy, and more. He is portrayed to be one of the main characters in the poem even though he was not the greatest warrior nor was he have the most power. Without Odysseus, we would not have had the Trojan War, and history could have turned out a lot differently.

Ancient Literature (April 13, 2024) Odysseus in the Iliad: The Tale of Ulysses and the Trojan War. Retrieved from https://ancient-literature.com/odysseus-in-the-iliad/.
"Odysseus in the Iliad: The Tale of Ulysses and the Trojan War." Ancient Literature - April 13, 2024, https://ancient-literature.com/odysseus-in-the-iliad/
Ancient Literature February 11, 2022 Odysseus in the Iliad: The Tale of Ulysses and the Trojan War., viewed April 13, 2024,<https://ancient-literature.com/odysseus-in-the-iliad/>
Ancient Literature - Odysseus in the Iliad: The Tale of Ulysses and the Trojan War. [Internet]. [Accessed April 13, 2024]. Available from: https://ancient-literature.com/odysseus-in-the-iliad/
"Odysseus in the Iliad: The Tale of Ulysses and the Trojan War." Ancient Literature - Accessed April 13, 2024. https://ancient-literature.com/odysseus-in-the-iliad/
"Odysseus in the Iliad: The Tale of Ulysses and the Trojan War." Ancient Literature [Online]. Available: https://ancient-literature.com/odysseus-in-the-iliad/. [Accessed: April 13, 2024]

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