Athena in the Odyssey VS. Virgil in the Inferno
Two of the greatest works ever written, The Odyssey by Homer and The Inferno by Dante, are detailed, multi-sectioned poems about the journey’s of two men. In each story, the main character is given some sort of guidance by another character in order to aid them in their travels. In The Odyssey, Athena is portrayed as the protector to Odysseus on his journey back home from the Trojan War to his family in Ithaca. In The Inferno, Virgil is requested to lead Dante through the depths of Hell in order to save his soul. Many similarities can be seen between the two characters as they both served as advice givers, protectors, and guides for the main character. While the two guides seem very alike in the way’s they help, it turns out that many differences can be observed between their ways. Athena and Virgil can both be perceived as escorts in the main characters’ journey, but they both are leading their pupils towards different endings and these endings can be representative of a much larger purpose that describes the two authors’ views on life at the time each poem was written.
In Greek mythology, Athena is regarded as the goddess of Wisdom. She uses her wisdom to aid Odysseus on his journey back home to his family, through various trials and tribulations. Athena’s guidance can be seen when Odysseus is finally being allowed to leave Calypso’s island, which outraged Poseidon. Poseidon sends a great wave to wreck Odysseus’s ship and possibly drown him in the vast ocean but instead Athena helps him survive. “But Zeus’s daughter Athena countered him at once./ The rest of the winds she stopped right in their tracks,/commanding them all to hush now, go to sleep./ All but the boisterous North-she whipped him up/ and the goddess beat the breakers flat before Odysseus,/ dear to Zeus, so he could reach the Phaeacians,/ mingle with men who love their long oars/ and escape his death at last.” (Ody. 5. 421-427). Another example...
Cited: Alighieri, Dante. Inferno. Trans. Robert Hollander and Jean Hollander. New York: Anchor, 2002. Print.
Homer. The Odyssey. Trans. Robert Fagles. New York: Penguin, 1997. Print.
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