In mythology King of Ithaka and leader of a contingent to Troy, where he was renowned as much for his cunning as for his courage. His long return home is the subject of Homer's Odyssey. In art he is seen on Skyros persuading Achilles to join the Greeks at Troy, and in many Trojan fighting scenes. He is associated with Diomedes (1) in episodes involving the theft of the Palladion (sometimes two) from Troy, and with Dolon and Rhesos. He leads the Mission to persuade Achilles to return to the battlefield. He contends with Ajax for possession of Achilles' armour and is shown at the dispute over it. On his journey home the episodes with the Sirens, Polyphemos (Kyklops), Kirke, Skylla, Nausikaa, and Elpenor (at the entrance to the Underworld) are subjects for art; also, at home, his meeting with the herdsman Eumaios, his wife Penelope, and his eventual slaying of her Suitors, shown at feast. He is often shown in short travelling dress and wearing a pointed cap (pilos).
Above left: Gem. Berlin Antikenmuseum FG316. Photo. Mus. (I.Luckert) © Antikenmuseum. Berlin.
Above right: Relief. Odysseus meets Penelope. Paris, Musee du Louvre C105. Photo. Documentation Photographique de la RMN. © Musée du Louvre