The Greek hero Odysseus* was known to the Romans as Ulixes, which became Ulysses in English. This name has been used in English translations of Homer's* Iliad and Odyssey since the l600s and in other literature based on the life of Odysseus.
In Dante's The Divine Comedy, written in the late 1200s, a character named Ulysses told of a voyage beyond the Pillars of Hercules—two peaks at the western entrance to the Mediterranean. His goal was to explore the unknown world, and he and his crew sailed westward for five months. Just as they sighted land, a fierce storm destroyed their ship and killed them.
In the literature of the Middle Ages, Ulysses was often portrayed as a liar and a rogue. In his poem "The Rape of Lucrèce," Shakespeare referred to "sly Ulysses." In the mid-1800s, Alfred, Lord Tennyson portrayed the hero's final years in his poem Ulysses.
James Joyce's novel Ulysses, written in 1922, is based on the Odyssey. Each chapter in the novel takes a different episode from Homer's work to document a single hour of a day in Dublin.