In Greek mythology, Laertes (//; Greek: Λαέρτης, Laértēs Greek pronunciation: [laː.ér.tɛːs]; also spelled Laërtes) was the father of Odysseus, an Argonaut, and a participant in the hunt for the Calydonian Boar. His title was King of the Cephallenians, an ethnic group who lived both on the Ionian islands and on the mainland, 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 was the son of Arcesius and Chalcomedusa and the father of Odysseus (who was thus called Laertiádēs, Λαερτιάδης, "son of Laertes") and Ctimene by his wife Anticlea, daughter of the thief Autolycus. Another account says that Laertes was not Odysseus's true father; rather, it was Sisyphus, 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, identifying himself only as Quarrelman, only son of King Allwoes (in the Fitzgerald translation of Homer), 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 go to Odysseus' home to fend off the families of the dead suitors. Athena infuses vigour into Laertes, so he can help Odysseus. He kills Eupeithes, father of Antinous.
- Entry Κεφαλλῆνες in Homeric Dictionary by Georg Autenrieth.
- E.g. Servius on Aeneid 6.529.
- Homer (1998). The Odyssey: The Fitzgerald Translation. Translated by Robert Fitzgerald. Macmillan. pp. lx. ISBN 9781466801479.
- Homer. Odyssey. Trans. Stanley Lombardo. Canada: Hackett Publishing Company, Inc., 2000. Print.
- Homer, Odyssey XXIV; Ovid, Metamorphoses VIII, 315.
- Media related to Laertes at Wikimedia Commons