Study Guide

Odysseus (Ulysses) - The Tricksters

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The Tricksters

Odysseus and the rest of his trickster buddies are always hatching some scheme or another. Somehow, though, the guys in charge never seem to catch them in the act. And you know what? Even when they do get caught, they always seem to talk their way out of the situation. Odysseus probably has better intentions than a lot of the other members of this clique, but that doesn't stop him from being one of the ringleaders.


Hermes is Odysseus's great grandfather, so it's not hard to see where Odysseus got his smarts from. Though Hermes might be more widely known as the messenger of the gods, he's also the god of thieves and trickery. He won the award for youngest thief ever when he stole Apollo's cattle on the very day he was born. Talk about precocious.


This trickster god from Norse mythology is always getting into trouble. Some of his most famous gambits include causing the death of Baldur and stealing the hair of Thor's wife, Sif. What a sneak.


The tricky Monkey King was one of the most famous of all figures from ancient Chinese mythology. He was so wily that he even managed to get the gods to make him immortal, which was no small task. Eventually, he got so out of control that the gods had to call in Buddha to regulate.


This guy is a trickster god of the Native Americans, who sneaks his way into the traditions of many different tribes. In some stories, he's up to no good just for the fun of it. In other tales, however, he puts his cunning to use for good.

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