Homer’s Odyssey depicts the life of a middle-aged, while Tennyson’s “Ulysses” describes Ulysses as an old man. The character’s role in his son’s life shifts. With maturity, Telemachus does not require as much guidance from his father. However, time does not alter the caring fellowship the man has with his crew, nor the willpower that he possesses in achieving his goals.
While Odysseus and his son are united and face the world together, Ulysses sees himself and his son as two different people living separate lives. When he returns, Odysseus has a close, personal relationship with his son; he becomes Telemachus’ mentor. Odysseus realizes Telemachus’ resemblance to himself – both are noble men of action who value justice. Together, they devise a plan to avenge the arrogant suitors who have abused their household for the past three years. Finally, “he [Odysseus] found the whole company lying in heaps in the blood and dust…” (Homer, 22.383). Father and son are victorious together. Conversely, as Ulysses ages, he and his son are disunited. Ulysses is confident that he has trained his son to be a benevolent ruler. He praises Telemachus’s patience, gentleness, and prudence – all outstanding qualities that he is lacking. Ulysses acknowledges that he and his son are opposite people. He is adventurous, while Telemachus is sedate. “He works his work, I mine” (Tennyson, Line 43) suggests acceptance of a destiny; the father and son must lead separate lives because of their differences. Despite changing roles the man plays in Telemachus’ life, he successfully raises his son to become a respectable leader.
Although the father-son relationship differs, Ody…
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…old age or barriers, he will always strive to fulfill his goals. The experiences of Odysseus and Ulysses are tributes to the power of the human spirit; one can achieve much if they are determined.
Odysseus and Ulysses have differences, but also similarities. The man’s role in his son’s life shifts once Telemachus matures. However, Odysseus and Ulysses portray similar characteristics – their love for their crew and their determination in achieving goals. The man is a born leader; he shows leadership in raising his son, caring for his crew, and ultimately, in taking charge of his life. The poets acclaim men who have direction in life to strive and attain goals.
Homer. Odyssey. Trans. Robert Fitzgerald. New York: Vintage, 1961.
Tennyson, Alfred. “Ulysses.” The Norton Introduction to Literature. Eds. Jerome Beaty and J. Paul Hunter. 7th ed.
The Serpent-Vampire in Keats’ Lamia
The Serpent-Vampire in Keats’s Lamia
The origin of the lamia myth lies in one of the love affairs of Zeus. The Olympian falls in love with Lamia, queen of Libya, which was, for the Greeks, the whole continent of Africa. When Hera finds out about their love, she destroys each of Lamia’s children at birth. In her misery, Lamia withdraws to the rocks and caves of the sea-coast, where she preys on other women’s children, eating them and sucking their blood. To recompense his mistress, Zeus gives her the power of shape-shifting. Perhaps as a reflection of this versatility, the monstrous race of lamiae of Africa are composite beings, with the heads and breasts of women, but the bodies of serpents. In this earliest incarnation, Lamia is a cannibal and a blood sucker.
Lamia’s position in the myth is clearly that of the outcast. She is an abandoned mistress, a non-Greek, and a violator of the almost universal taboo against eating human flesh. That she takes on this role out of anguish over the loss of her own children does not, however, arouse sympathy. The lamiae later come to be more closely associated with vampires who return from the grave to suck the blood of the living. Since no community tolerates vampires, such a creature is otherness or difference personified.
Other female mythic figures show affiliations with the lamia and its vampirism–the mortal femme fatale, the goddess who offers the hero a paradise of ease and immortality, and the female monster, sometimes visibly horrible, sometimes apparently benign, that lurks in cliffs (Skylla), under the waters (Kharybdis), and on the rocks (Sirens). Homer’s Odyssey conveniently gives us examples of all of these women. The mortal femme fatale, represented mo…
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…uncongenial want to change Keats from a Romantic to a Victorian.
1. Carl Kerenyi, The Gods of the Greeks (London: Thames, 1992), 38-40.
2. All quotations from Homer come from Robert Fitzgerald’s translation of theThe Odyssey of Homer (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1998).
3. I am indebted to Barbara Fass and her book, La Belle Dame sans Merci and the Aesthetics of Romanticism (Detroit: Wayne State U. P., 1974), for help in deciding how I would classify the female temptresses. A sub-category of the enchantress is the “loathly lady,” who has knowledge the hero needs (like the old woman in the Wife of Bath’s Tale) or who can be seen sometimes to resemble the female monster in all her ugliness (like Duessa in The Fairy Queene).
4. F.C. Conybeare, trans., Philostratus: The Life of Apollonius of Tyana (Cambridge: Harvard U. P., 196