A Comparative Recollection of The Odyssey and The Inferno

Length: 8 Pages 2057 Words

When making a sociological observation on the human race, one can draw many similarities between the vast numbers of cultures that flourish on earth. One of the commonalties sure to be witnessed by the sociologist is: mankind does many of the same fundamental aspects of life, having their specific cultures responsible for making only cosmetic changes to these tasks. Literature, like mankind, is also seen to have commonalities between different pieces of writing, with minor changes made by the writer’s varied influences. Although Homer’s The Odyssey and Dante’s The Inferno were written roughly two thousand years apart and in cultures that have contrasting norms, both masterpieces are recognized as having many paralleled themes and subjects. The ancient Greek text and the more contemporary Italian poem are both written around the main idea of a grand journey, with differences arising in the purpose and the style of the expeditions. Also, both Homer and Dante include the thought that women play a submissive role in life, focally varying the degree of the subservience. Finally, the two texts climax with themes of betrayal. These scenes of betrayal are sternly portrayed between the covers of the literature; Homer focusing on reve Continue...


Inferno, 363 Although Dante, the pilgrim, could not complete the task of recounting the dreadfulness of Hell, the invoked muse has little trouble in the manner. Virgil, explaining the purpose of his visit, states, "In soft tones, she started to address me in her own language, with an angel's voice (Inferno, 81). When comparing The Inferno to The Odyssey, this statement qualifies the characteristics of a forced journey and divine intervention. Both authors create stories that attempt alter the emotions of the reader by punishing the wicked to such an extent. In The Odyssey, characters like Penelope, Calypso and the Furies are on earth to primarily procreate. Homer also indicates that women should be very subjective in their dealings with men. Both Odysseus and Dante would not have undertaken their extraordinary travels without the will of the gods. Surprisingly, Homer and Dante end each story with a moral parable, each indicating that those who betray others will be punished harshly. They both rely on their female characters to provide a less dominate role than male characters, offering little exception to this standard. While both travels are truly extraordinary, Homer uses an excited and electrifying tone when describing the trip of Odysseus, while Dante describes the travels of his characters, Dante and Virgil, with a more understated and dull tone. Dante embarked his journey through Hell because the love of his life, Beatrice, feared that Dante was not acting in a righteous manner and was in danger of not joining her in Heaven. Each author obviously has a grave dislike for people who are unfaithful to those close to them. Among others, Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales and the Renaissance masterpiece Sir Gawain and the Green Knight have included the aspect of a large journey, but unlike The Odyssey and The Inferno, The Canterbury Tales and Sir Gawain do not stress the importance of the journey itself. It is utterly remarkable that a blind poet and a Florentine outcast have included such similar thoughts regarding travel, women, and betrayal into their defining work. The Odyssey reveals that Odysseus is a man of action, leading a battle against those who betrayed him, while the reader can only make assumptions of Dante's emotions, which because of being in the presence of Satan are dazed and irregular, about the carnal sin.