While one of many heroes in the Iliad, Odysseus is the main character of the Odyssey. He is characterized as possessing many positive traits, especially intelligence. While President Trump clearly lacks the intellectual keenness and skill at counsel of Odysseus, there are some interesting parallels between the two.
Odysseus is famously presented as a skilled deceiver and fond of adultery (his own, of course). While his fellow heroes benefit from his cunning, Achilles and others regard him as a liar and condemn him for this. For the heroes of the Republican party, Trump occupies a similar role: they are pleased when he wins and assists them in winning, but often find his lies and immoral actions (such as repeated acts of adultery) troubling. Trump, like Odysseus, is a master of deceit and disguise—Trump can, for example, receive massive applause from the economically insecure forgotten men and women of America by praising himself and them as the elite. Like Odysseus, Trump achieves victory through cunning and deceit—and thus deserves all the praise due such success.
While no one likes to lose, both Trump and Odysseus are obsessed with wining. Odysseus makes it clear that he wants to win in everything. One of Trump signature lines was that were he president, we would win so much we would be tired of winning. While winning is generally seen as good, there is the obvious question of what it means to be a victor.
In the case of Odysseus, being a victor means getting what he desires, despite the contrary wishes of friends or foes. “Odysseus’ outlook threatens to make nonsense of morality in the broadest sense: including those values that provide a guide for conduct in situations affecting the well-being of others, imposing constraints on what one may do in pursuit of personal gain.” Odysseus is thus someone who “disregards moral constraints to do anything at all in pursuit of his or her own goals.” Trump, famously, takes the same approach as Odysseus: he pursues what he wants and does not let concerns about ethics or the interests of others interfere with his pursuit. While this might seem to make both Odysseus and Trump villains, it must be remembered that Odysseus is the (complicated) hero of the Odyssey. Likewise, Trump is clearly a hero to his followers. This raises the question of how this is possible.
One tempting explanation is that Trump’s followers are simply deceived: they do not know what Trump truly is. If they knew, they would cease to back him. This view is, however, implausible. While Trump’s supporters do claim that he is honest (despite his obvious lies), religious (despite all evidence), and acting in their interest (despite all evidence) their support is not a matter of ignorance. Rather, as others have argued, they see Trump as acting against their enemies and his unethical behavior as justified because it is aimed at these enemies. Trump is, as his followers point out, “winning” and fighting against the “enemies of the people.” In this regard, Trump is much like Odysseus—he exemplifies the pre-Socratic “warrior-king” virtues. This is someone who is strong, who will do anything to win and will provide his friends with a cut of the spoils—or at least convince them that they are getting a share of the loot. Most importantly, this “warrior-king” promises to harm the enemies of his followers and not balk at doing this, no matter what. As long as the “warrior-king” convinces his followers that he is hurting their enemies and protecting their share of the loot, they are pleased to praise and follow him. If Trump started losing, stopped attacking their enemies and could no longer convince his followers that he is protecting their share of the loot, then he would presumably lose support. However, as long as he keeps attacking the right people and is able to convince his followers (against all evidence) that their loot is protected by him, then the loyalty of his base is assured. Ethical violations do not matter, unless they are violations that help the enemies of his followers. As such, his followers do not care about his adultery, they do not care about his lies, and they do not care about any collusion or other election misdeeds. What matters to them is what matters to Trump: victory in everything.