In Greek mythology, Laërtes (//; Greek: Λαέρτης, Laértēs) was the son of Arcesius and Chalcomedusa. He was the father of Odysseus (who was thus called Laertiádēs, Λαερτιάδης, "son of Laertes") and Ctimene by his wife Anticlea, daughter of the thief Autolycus. Laërtes was an Argonaut and participated in the hunt for the Calydonian Boar. Laërtes's title was King of the Cephallenians, which he presumably inherited from his father Arcesius and grandfather Cephalus. His realm included Ithaca and surrounding islands, and perhaps even the neighboring part of the mainland of other Greek city-states.
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 infuses vigour into Laërtes, so he can help Odysseus. He kills Eupeithes, father of Antinous.
- Laertes is a character in Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's novel Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship.
- List of Greek mythological figures
- Media related to Laertes at Wikimedia Commons
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