Leaving aside Heracles, who embodies the theory of the path of purification/liberation, Odysseus (Ulysses) can be seen as the most advanced symbol of a truth seeker in the spiritual evolution described by the masters of wisdom of ancient Greece.
He represents the one who achieved liberation in the mind, freed himself of fear, desire and ego since he is “nobody” as Odysseus (Ulysses) tells the Cyclops Polyphemus, who has achieved the psychisation of the being, and who has also reached an advanced stage in ascending the planes of consciousness since Homer said of him that “his thought makes him equal to Zeus.”
The poet explains his name by his anger, Odysseus (Ulysses) “the ulcerated”, which we interpreted as a seeker ‘ulcerated’ from not being able to act accurately because of his own imperfection.
With the structuring letters Δ+ΣΣ, his name is the symbol of the seeker who works to “unite the two currents, one ascending, the other descending, which unite spirit and matter.”
For all these reasons, Odysseus (Ulysses) should logically have ancestors both in the branch of purification-liberation and the one of ascension of planes of consciousness.
Although we have positioned him in the genealogical charts in the Iapetus lineage because of his maternal ancestry (Maia), we are inclined to place him in the Arcadian lineage – even if no source except Hygin’s confirms this paternal ancestry. Indeed, Homer quotes the name of his grandfather Arcisius “who stands, who endures”, and this name can be compared with the one of the hero Arcas “an enduring power” that has the same root. (For Ovid, Arcisius is the son of Zeus who does not name his mother and son of Cephalus and Procris for Hygin who is therefore the only author to link him to Deion.) On the other hand, Odysseus (Ulysses) is very often referred to by Homer as “the endurance hero”.
This endurance corresponds in this advanced phase of yoga to an essential quality required from the adventurer of consciousness, as Sri Aurobindo stressed several times: ‘Endure and you will triumph’.
The meaning of the name of Odysseus (Ulysses)’ father is uncertain: Laertes could mean “who brings the people or the army together”, that is, a total commitment to yoga that must be a complete surrender to the Absolute.
It also means “ant” or “wasp,” which evokes the Myrmidons, symbols of working in the depths, at the root of life, and a yoga for humanity.
This name could also derive from λαω “see,” which would associate the corresponding realization to the “seer” state.
If paternal parentage is uncertain (only Ovid indicates Zeus as his great-grandfather), with Homer maternal parentage clearly marks a powerful influence of the Overmind. The god Hermes united with Philonis “who loves evolution”, daughter of Deion (the last child of Aeolus), who gave him Autolycos “the one who is his own light”.”
Autolycos may also represent a particular stage of development in the Overmind. Indeed, in Mother’s Agenda, Volume 3, on 15 September 1962, Mother explains: “Somewhere in the overmind (beyond the higher mind and from the overmind onwards), things are luminous IN THEMSELVES. Light doesn’t have to strike them: things themselves are luminous. And this makes a considerable difference in vision. Things are no longer lit from outside, they are luminous in themselves. This is the main difference in the quality of the light”.
Autolycos united with Amphithea “everything about the inner divine” and begat a daughter, Anticlia, “the greatest humility (as opposed to spiritual pride)” and several sons. Anticlia united with Laertes “total commitment of the unified being” and gave him Odysseus (Ulysses).
By his parentage, Odysseus (Ulysses), who works to achieve unity of mind-matter through the transparency of his being by the action of the divine consciousness/light, is therefore the result of great “endurance” that brings forth a total commitment of the being, working with great humility.
His homeland is Ithaca “enlargement of consciousness in a just, right way.” It is a small rocky island off the coast of Elide, “steep and impassable to horses“, a place of an arduous yoga in the work of liberation (Λ) in which the vital force must not intervene.
Its highest mountain is the “immense, infinite” Neritus in relation to the quest for “indefinite enlargement of consciousness.”
It is surrounded by inhabited islands, or well-rooted achievements: “liberation” (Doulichion “the cessation of slavery and thus freedom”), the consecrated mental nature (Same) and the purified vital nature that saw the emergence of the psychic (Zante “the forester”, includes Kunthos in his name which is the mountain of Delos island).
Odysseus (Ulysses)’ wife, Penelope, is unambiguously of the royal lineage of Sparta “what is begotten” or “what arises”, in the lineage of Taygete, the plane of the intuitive mind.
As seen in chapter III, the parentage begins with Lacedaemon “the deity that resounds with force,” that is, “the compelling need for Truth.” It continues with Amyclas “who must realise the state without desire” united with Diomede “who has the intention of being divine” (not to be confused with Diomedes) who gave him Cynortes, himself father of Oebalus (two names of obscure origin).
Oebalus united with Gorgophone as “the one who overcomes fear (who kills the Gorgon)” who gave him several children, including Tyndareus (obscure name) and Icarios, “the opening to the right movement of consciousness,” Penelope’s father. The analogy of the name Icarios with the famous Icarus, the son of Daedalus who wanted to rush towards the Supramental (the sun) by the way of the mind, suggests an aspiration to go beyond the mind.
According to Apollodorus, Penelope’s mother is a Naiad, one of the many Periboea namesakes representing “everything about the incarnation”, in other words the movement to bring the spirit into matter.
Penelope is therefore by her father Icarios, Castor’s first cousin “the strength or power that confers mastery” or “greater openness to integrity”, of Polydeuces “a very great sweetness” and thus a symbol of a realisation like ‘equanimity’. She is also the first cousin of Helen “evolution of freedom” and of Clytemnestra “greatest wisdom”.
However, during the period concerned here, after the Trojan War, only Polydeuces “total gentleness, infinite compassion” survived the battle between the Dioscuri and the Apharetides. Hélène returned to Sparta and Clytemnestra, united to Aegisthus, reigned over Mycenae.
If one considers that his name was built with Παν+Λ+οψ, Penelope represents “the vision of a more complete freedom”.
The first meaning of the name is “teal”, a bird whose symbolism in ancient Greece we ignore. In the Far East, he represents fidelity which is one of Penelope’s major qualities.
(One could also propose an interpretation that would be “the vision of the weft towards freedom” in relation to the veil woven by this heroine, and also the “weft” of corporal matter that must be crossed to evolve into a new humanity.)
According to Homer, Penelope had a sister, Iphthime “the strong, courageous one”, wife of Eumelos “harmony”. She resided in Pheres “endurance” (Odyssey, IV, 798): courage, exactitude and endurance are essential qualities in this phase of the journey.
Throughout this study, we will refer to Odysseus (Ulysses) as “the seeker”, as a representative of the essential aspect of the quest – what strives to achieve a perfect transparency for the flow of energies between spirit and matter – with Menelaus, Nestor, Diomedes, Neoptolemus, etc.
On the other hand, although we follow the chronology of the story, it is important to point out that many of the purifications illustrated by the adventures of the hero do not in reality take place in the same order.