Type: Literary Analysis
Pages: 3 | Words: 873
Reading Time: 4 Minutes

Ancient Greek and Roman myths are important part of world culture, which contain archetypal plots and characters. A hero on the road facing challenges is one of such patterns that is typical for ancient myths. Odysseus and Aeneas, whose adventures were described in poems The Odyssey, The Iliad and The Aeneid, are examples of such travel plots. Comparing the two journeys, it should be noted that they have much in common because both characters have to face danger, storms, captivity, and anger of gods. At the same time, Odysseus’ voyage is more a story of wit, which helps him out of situations, while Aeneas’ one is more a story of a loss, and is apparently a more tragic one.

Both stories end after the end of Trojan war, when two heroes have to sail on a journey. Yet, their motivation is different: while Odyssey is going to return home to Ithaca, where his wife Penelope is waiting for him, Aeneas is more unfortunate: Troy was destroyed, so he has to look for a new settlement. Aeneas decides to go to the territory, which is modern Italy, and start his life from scratch. It is worth saying that he is initially in a worse condition than Odyssey because his wife Creusa was killed in a war, so this gives his journey a more tragic note from the very beginning. Life is full of hardships for Aeneas when he has to live Troy mourning for his wife and holding his father Anchises on his back. Yet, he does not manage to keep his father alive, so he buries him in Sicily.

For after storms at sea had buffeted me

So often, here, alas, I lost my father,

Solace in all affliction and mischance;

O best of fathers, in my weariness( Aeneid)

The only family that Aeneas now has is his sons Pallas and Ascanius, yet the fate is not going to be merciful to them either. In the end of the story Turnus, Prince of Latium, kills Pallas. In revenge, Aeneas kills Turnus, yet this does not save him from unhappiness and mourn. Meanwhile, it should be mentioned, after the death of his wife Aeneas has relationship with Dido, a nymph, whom he also loses as she kills herself. Even though he sees her again when traveling to the Underworld, she does not want to talk to him as she cannot forgive him the fact that he left her. Thus, the story of Aeneas is a story of losses and tragedies in the first place.

Compared to his story, Odyssey focuses on slightly different themes. The character faces numerous hardships and trials, which vengeful gods prepare for him, yet because of his wit he manages to save his life and finally return home. Even though it takes years to do so and his mother dies with no hope to see her son again, he nevertheless knows that his five Penelope is waiting for him. He has home and family to return to, which gives him motivation to move further. Like Aeneas, he travels to the Underworld, and has an opportunity to see and reconcile with his late mother. “Mother, why will you not wait for me, when I am trying to hold you, so that even in Hades’ with our arms embracing we can both take the satisfaction of dismal mourning? Or are you nothing but an image that proud Persephone sent my way, to make me grieve all the more for sorrow?” (Odyssey). Thus, even though Odyssey also has tragic events in the course of his voyage, there is a chance for him to obtain peace. Still, one can easily notice that the story is more devoted to demonstrating Odyssey’s wit in resolving challenges and riddles. He meets several mighty creatures such as island of the goddess Kalypso, Cyclopses, Circe, Skylla and Charybdis. It is remarkable that most of them are female and attempt to influence his with their charm, making them his slave. In fact, Odyssey is aimed at demonstrating the negative side of femininity, which is presented as destructive and dangerous. This type of femininity is contrasted with the faithfulness of Penelope, who waits for her husband’s return for years. I Iliad, where Odyssey appears only in Book 10, he is presented as a cunning person, whose wit is his arm, and this idea is developed in Odyssey too. In fact, it looks like meeting monstrous creatures is necessary to reveal the hero’s talents rather than to create a tragic epic, like it is the case with Aeneas.

Thus, on the one hand, the two characters’ adventures have much in common, as they have to survive life-threatening circumstances, anger of gods and enemies, captivity in the islands, traveling down to the Underworld, etc. On the other hand, however, there is a difference in the mood of the two epics. Odysseus’ voyage is relatively successful because his losses are minimal, and he returns to his beloved wife in the end. In contrast, Aeneas’ journey is more tragic and full of losses: he loses his wife, his son, his father and his lover in the course of his travel. Besides, Odyssey ends Trojan war in the party of winners, while Aeneas loses his home and needs to search for a new one.

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