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How Have Other Writes Used The Character Of Odysseus

824 words - 4 pages

How Have Writers Used the Character of Odysseus?

Throughout history Odysseus has been portrayed and used in different ways, by many different authors for a variety of reasons. This essay will look at some of the better known portrayals.

In the original story Odysseus is the hero of Homer’s Odyssey. The story follows on from Homer’s Iliad, the story of the Trojan War, the character of Odysseus is featured heavily in this book as well. In The Odyssey however, the Trojan War is over and the book concerns the hero’s 10 year journey home to his wife Penelope and son Telemachus in Ithaca. Throughout the story Odysseus encounters various obstacles on his journey and learns a number ...view middle of the document...

even when the Greeks bring gifts I fear them, gifts and all” (The Aenied, Virgil). Virgil’s motive for depicting Odysseus in this way could be the fact that Virgil, a classical Roman poet, believed the Romans were descendants of the Trojans. As such he would have seen the ‘nimble-witted’ Odysseus, who came up with the idea of the Horse, as scheming and underhand.

In The Inferno, Dante uses Odysseus to portray the medieval sin of curiositas – curiosity. Dante writes that after arriving home Odysseus was unable rest and his thirst for knowledge was so great that “not sweetness of a son, not reverence for an aging father, not the debt of love I owed Penelope, could quench deep in myself, the burning wish to know the world” (Dante: Inferno). Thus Odysseus and a few of his men set sail from Ithaca in search of knowledge and experience. When Odysseus finally reaches the Pillars of Hercules (which mark the end of the world) he urges his men forward, soon after they plunge over the edge of the world and into the Inferno. In a form of poetic justice, according to Dante, Odysseus is found burning in hell for all eternity for his burning curiosity.

Later, in Tennyson’s poem Ulysses, Odysseus states “I cannot rest from travel” (Tennyson, Ulysses); he is as an elderly king yearning for one last voyage of...

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