Laertes

Laertes

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In Greek mythology
Greek mythology
Greek mythology is the body of myths and legends belonging to the ancient Greeks, concerning their gods and heroes, the nature of the world, and the origins and significance of their own cult and ritual practices. They were a part of religion in ancient Greece...

, Laërtes was the son of Arcesius
Arcesius
In Greek mythology, Arcesius was the son of Cephalus, and king in Ithaca. Zeus made his line one of "only sons": his only son was Laertes, whose only son was Odysseus, whose only son was Telemachus...

 and Chalcomedusa. He was the father of Odysseus
Odysseus
Odysseus or Ulysses was 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 the Epic Cycle....

 (who was thus called Laertiades, Λαερτιάδης) and Ctimene
Ctimene
In Greek mythology, Ctimene was the younger sister of Odysseus, the In [[Greek mythology]], Ctimene was the younger sister of [[Odysseus]], the...

 by his wife Anticlea
Anticlea
In Greek mythology, Anticlea was the daughter of Autolycus and Amphithea and mother of Odysseus by Laërtes . She was also the granddaughter of the trickster god Hermes Tiresias. In the underworld, he encounters many spirits, including that of his mother, Anticlea...

, daughter of the thief Autolycus
Autolycus
In Greek mythology, Autolycus was a son of Hermes and Chione. He was the husband of Neaera, or according to Homer, of Amphithea...

. Laërtes was an Argonaut
Argonauts
The Argonauts ) were a band of heroes in Greek mythology who, in the years before the Trojan War, accompanied Jason to Colchis in his quest to find the Golden Fleece. Their name comes from their ship, the Argo, which was named after its builder, Argus. "Argonauts", therefore, literally means...

 and participated in the hunt for the Calydonian Boar
Calydonian Boar
The Calydonian Boar is one of the monsters of Greek mythology that had to be overcome by heroes of the Olympian age. Sent by Artemis to ravage the region of Calydon in Aetolia because its king failed to honor her in his rites to the gods, it was killed in the Calydonian Hunt, in which many male...

. Laërtes's title was King of the Cephallenians
Acephali
Acephali is a term applied to several sects as having no head or leader....

, which he presumably inherited from his father Arcesius and grandfather Cephalus
Cephalus
Cephalus is an Ancient Greek name, used both for the hero-figure in Greek mythology and carried as a theophoric name by historical persons. The word kephalos is Greek for "head", perhaps used here because Cephalus was the founding "head" of a great family that includes Odysseus...

. His realm included Ithaca
Ithaca
Ithaca or Ithaka is an island located in the Ionian Sea, in Greece, with an area of and a little more than three thousand inhabitants. It is also a separate regional unit of the Ionian Islands region, and the only municipality of the regional unit. It lies off the northeast coast of Kefalonia and...

 and surrounding islands, and perhaps even the neighboring part of the mainland of other Greek city-states.

Another account says that Laërtes was not Odysseus's true father; rather, it was Sisyphus
Sisyphus
In Greek mythology Sisyphus was a king punished by being compelled to roll an immense boulder up a hill, only to watch it roll back down, and to repeat this throughout eternity...

, who had seduced Anticlea.

Laertes stays away from Odysseus' home while Odysseus is gone. He keeps to himself on his farm, overcome with grief over Odysseus' absence and alone after his wife, Anticleia, died from grief herself. Odysseus finally comes to see Laertes after he has killed all the suitors competing for Penelope. He finds his father spading a plant, looking old and tired and filled with sadness. Odysseus keeps his identity to himself at first, but when he sees how disappointed Laertes is to learn that this "stranger" has no news of his son, Odysseus reveals himself, and proves his identity by reciting all the trees he received from Laertes when he was a boy. This emphasis on the land of Ithaca itself perhaps signifies that Odysseus has finally reconnected with his homeland, and his journey is over.

Laertes had trained Odysseus in husbandry. After their reunion, the two of them head off to Odysseus' home to fend off the families of the dead suitors. Athena
Athena
In Greek mythology, Athena, Athenê, or Athene , also referred to as Pallas Athena/Athene , is the goddess of wisdom, courage, inspiration, civilization, warfare, strength, strategy, the arts, crafts, justice, and skill. Minerva, Athena's Roman incarnation, embodies similar attributes. Athena is...

 infuses vigour into Laërtes, so he can help Odysseus. He kills Eupeithes
Eupeithes
In Greek mythology, Eupeithês was the father of Antinous, the leader of the suitors of Penelope. After his son's death at the hands of Odysseus, Eupeithes tried to revolt against his rule. He was killed by Odysseus' father, Laertes. Apparently, he had forgotten the favor Odysseus had done for...

, father of Antinous
Antinous son of Eupeithes
In Greek mythology, Antinous , son of Eupeithes, is most known for his role in Homer’s Odyssey. One of two prominent suitors vying for Penelope’s hand in marriage, the other being Eurymachus, Antinous is presented as a violent, mean-spirited character who willfully defiles Odysseus’ home while the...

. In Robert Fitzgerald
Robert Fitzgerald
Robert Stuart Fitzgerald was a poet, critic and translator whose renderings of the Greek classics "became standard works for a generation of scholars and students." He was best known as a translator of ancient Greek and Latin...

's translation
Translation
Translation is the communication of the meaning of a source-language text by means of an equivalent target-language text. Whereas interpreting undoubtedly antedates writing, translation began only after the appearance of written literature; there exist partial translations of the Sumerian Epic of...

 of the Odyssey
Odyssey
The Odyssey is one of two major ancient Greek epic poems attributed to Homer. It is, in part, a sequel to the Iliad, the other work ascribed to Homer. The poem is fundamental to the modern Western canon, and is the second—the Iliad being the first—extant work of Western literature...

, Odysseus
Odysseus
Odysseus or Ulysses was 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 the Epic Cycle....

 refers to him as King Allwoes.

See also


  • Laertes is a character in Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
    Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
    Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was a German writer, pictorial artist, biologist, theoretical physicist, and polymath. He is considered the supreme genius of modern German literature. His works span the fields of poetry, drama, prose, philosophy, and science. His Faust has been called the greatest long...

    's novel Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship
    Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship
    Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship is the second novel by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, published in 1795-96. While his first novel, The Sorrows of Young Werther, featured a hero driven to suicide by despair, the eponymous hero of this novel undergoes a journey of self-realization...

    .