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Paper Topic:

Homer’s The Odyssey and Dante’s Inferno

Complementing Texts : Homer 's The Odyssey and Dante 's Inferno

Ever since human beings started telling stories for entertainment or for edification , heroes have made incredible journeys against what seem like impossible odds . In the beginning , heroes often these journeys to reach a goal , often in defiance of the gods who , for whatever reason , had imposed limits upon the main character of the story . In Homer 's story The Odyssey , this limitation is that the gods will block his way home until he speaks to the sage Tiresias . By contrast , Dante Alighieri 's

br character of Dante primarily seeks to find answers to his questions that is , knowledge , as a means to find salvation . While both heroes interact with the underworld to accomplish their aims , the stories complement each other , rather than mirror each other . In many ways Dante 's text corrects ' the story found in Homer 's work , making it suitable for Christian audiences . Careful examination of texts reveals how some of these areas differ significantly between them . Some of these differences include the nature of the underworld itself and the hero 's interaction with it , the knowledge that Odysseus ' mother has of the living world , and the shared rule of the underworld

The Nature of the Underworld and the Heroes ' Interaction with It

Like Dante 's Hell , Homer 's underworld is not a pleasant place to spend eternity . It is dark and gloomy the inhabitants have dulled senses . The underworld into which Odysseus looks is Hades , not the Elysian Fields where heroes were blessed with eternal happiness . Rather , the unhappy dead ' live there , cursed to bleak and boring existences for the rest of eternity . The dead who exist in Hades are those who have died unburied like Odysseus ' friend , Elpenor , who died falling from a ladder leading from Circe 's roof , as well as Tiresias and Odysseus ' unhappy mother . And yet , misery of the inhabitants is one of several similarities between the two underworlds

One interesting difference between the Homer 's Hades and Dante 's Hell is that the stories ' heroes find their entrances in extremely different locations . Odysseus finds the entrance to Hades in a harbor at the western edge of the world ' while Dante finds the entrance to Hell in the midst of a dark wood . While these differences might seem insignificant , they are , in truth , indicative of the different purposes behind the journeys that the heroes undertake . The harbor at the end of the world represents physical distance traveled Odysseus is on a quest to return home to Ithaca , a goal that the gods have prevented him from attaining . It is an earthly goal , however , with measurable distances that must be traversed . While the ocean that Odysseus travels provides room for a communal journey through which he attempts to bring his crew home , Dante 's dark wood provides a far narrower field . It is restrictive and personal , perhaps driven by the solitary nature of Dante 's quest for knowledge and redemption . The distance that Dante must...

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