The Odyssey Vs Seafarer

Category: Literature
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The Odyssey tells the story of a heroic but far from perfect protagonist who is known by the name Odysseus, he faces many challengers, including his own stubbornness when it comes to listening to the gods’ warnings, on his drawn-out journey home from war. Along the way the epic poem explores ideas on fate, retribution, and the importance of host-guest hospitality in ancient Greece. While the Odyssey is not told in order in which the events occur, or from a single perspective, the epic is organized around a single goal: to get Odysseus home to Ithaca, where he will take on and defeat the barbaric suitors stationed in his palace and reunite with his loving wife, Penelope.

The main conflict in Homer’s epic poem is between Odysseus’s desire to reach home and the forces that keep him from reaching his goal, a conflict that the narrator spells out for the audience in the opening lines. The speaker identifies the causes of Odysseus’s struggle to return home, naming both the sun god, Helios, and Odysseus’s former crew as responsible: The recklessness of their own ways destroyed them all, the blind fools, they devoured the cattle of the sun and the sun god blotted out the day of their return. The speaker then identifies Poseidon as one of Odysseus’s main antagonists, considering all the gods took pity on Odysseus except Poseidon, who raged on, seething against the great Odysseus until he reached his native land. Since he’s the one who took out his son’s eye-sight. Finally, the introduction tells the reader that this epic will be the story of Odysseus’s journey home.

Basically, Odysseus gets stuck on Calypso’s island for like forever then realizes his heart belongs to another aka Penelope, he is then freed from Calypso’s island by Athena and sets out for home, but is shipwrecked by Poseidon, who is still angry that Odysseus took out his son’s (the Cyclops) eye. Odysseus then surfaces in Phaeacia, where he tells his hosts the story of his crappy journey after leaving Troy. The climax of the epic happens after Odysseus has left Phaeacia and finally makes it back to Ithaca, where his tale combines with his son’s Telemachus where they join forces to rid the castle of the unwanted suitors. They enter the castle with Odysseus dressed as a beggar, the suitors then abuse Odysseus instead of showing traditional Greek hospitality, this essentially seals their fate and reinforces the importance of the host-guest relationship in the poem.

The Seafarer on the other hand states that men, who are red-faced with wine and enjoy an easy life on land, find it hard to comprehend how the seafarer could consider something as violent as the open ocean his home. It has an alliterative rhyme scheme and is slightly easier for modern day readers to understand, since there are many in-depth passages that require little interpretation. There seems to be only one speaker, who describes his journeys at sea whether they be harsh or not and then transitions into a discussion of life on land and everything the land dwellers take for granted.

In the first half of the poem, the Seafarer speaks about the difficulty of his life out at sea. The weather is freezing, the waves are powerful, and he has only himself for comfort. He contrasts his solitude to the life of land dwellers, which is said to supposedly be much easier and more comfortable. In the second part of the poem, however, the speaker changes his tone around and expresses his desire to continue sailing. The speaker emphasizes the darker side of material items and gain. He instructs his readers to be humble since he has established his credibility as someone who has lived life and can give adequate advice, because as he states in the piece Death comes for all men and in the end only God will hold them accountable.

Now for the real challenge of comparing and contrasting these two poems, let’s start off with the similarities, they both are about men who end up on boats out in the sea. Two men who at first struggle to find their place but can also be said to be good role models/give good advice to the readers in the long run, that’s all I have. Now for the differences, one man views the sea as his home and the other just wants to get home and there’s a crazy sea god who’s pissed at him for beating up his baby boy. One man is just that- a Seafarer (haha) and the other is one who resides on land which the Seafaring one despises, because he believes they live an easy life and know nothing of the hardships faced by those making voyages out on the desolate open ocean. The Seafarer is out in self-exile while Odysseus is basically exiled from home because the God’s feel like toying with him. Another difference that can be noted between the two is that the Seafarer just has one speaker and one point of view where-as the Odyssey has multiple it switches between Odysseus’s and his son’s until they unite at the end when Odysseus finally makes it home and has to outsmart the suitors living in his home.

All in all, both were enjoyable reads, though I have to say I enjoyed the Odyssey more, I mean who doesn’t love a good epic about a heroic figure just trying to get home that drones on forever, am I right? To be completely honest I don’t know how well this literary analysis is because just sitting down and finding the time to collect my thoughts for a literary analysis paper is very stressful. Life is all over the place, I’m not sure what the Seafarer was thinking when he said those who only stick to land could never understand such hardships like those on the sea, I mean has this man ever been to a university in 2018?

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The Odyssey vs Seafarer. (2020, May 13). Retrieved from

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