Odysseus Quotations from The Iliad

Instructor: Summer Stewart

Summer has taught creative writing and sciences at the college level. She holds an MFA in Creative writing and a B.A.S. in English and Nutrition

Odysseus is an Achaean warrior in the Trojan War. His character appears in Homer's ''The Iliad''. Let's learn more about Odysseus by looking at quotes from Homer's epic poem.


In The Iliad by Homer, Odysseus is a warrior fighting for Agamemnon in the Trojan War. He is innovative, brave, and strong. Odysseus is the man who comes up with the idea of building the horse and leaving it ashore, knowing that the Trojans would bring it inside the walls of Troy. Although, the building of the wooden horse does not take place in The Iliad. Throughout the epic poem, Odysseus is sometimes referred to as Ulysses, which is the Latin form of his name. Not only does Odysseus play an important role in moving the plot forward, his character adds to the development of several themes. In this lesson, we will talk about Odysseus and his place in the poem by looking at quotes by and about him.

Odysseus Fights on the Front Lines

Odysseus is not afraid to fight first, nor is he afraid to stand up for his men in battle. Several times throughout the poem, Odysseus is described as a masterful fighter. For example, when his friend Leucus is killed, Odysseus ''strode where the foremost of the foes engaged;/ Arm'd with his spear, he meditates the wound, / In act to throw; but cautious look'd around, / Struck at his sight the Trojans backward drew, /And trembling heard the javelin as it flew…''

Odysseus runs to the front lines and kills Democoon as a way of avenging his friend. He doesn't hesitate, and even though anger motivates the action, he executes the kill with ease. This shows Odysseus's skills as a warrior.

Again, Odysseus proves his valiant character in Book 11 when Diomedes is hit by an arrow and Odysseus chooses to stay on the battlefield long enough to let him escape. Homer writes, ''Now on the field Odysseus stands alone, /The Greeks all fled, the Trojans pouring on;/But stands collected in himself, and whole…'' Even though every other man has fled and the Trojans are coming head on toward Odysseus, he stays because doesn't fear a fight.

He's Not Happy that Agamemnon Calls Him Weak

Like many warriors, Odysseus believes in honor and any slight against his honor enrages him. When Agamemnon suggests that Odysseus is weak and not fighting at his best, he responds with,

''How can you say that, when we Achaians waken the bitter

war god on Trojans, breakers of horses, I hang back from

fighting? Only watch, if you care to and if it concerns you,

the very father of Telemachos locked with the champion

Trojans, breakers of horses. Your talk is wind, and no meaning.''

Odysseus reacts to Agamemnon's degrading comments fiercely because he knows that he is a solid fighter. He cannot believe his abilities are being questioned, but what is interesting about his interaction with Agamemnon is that it inspires him to fight harder. Odysseus knows he doesn't have to prove himself, but deep down inside, he wants to protect his honor by showing just how good he is at fighting.

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