English IV- 6th
September 11, 2012
Princes Comparison and Contrast
Although epic poems boast the qualities of their heroes, there are minor differences. In the poems Beowulf and Ulysses, they express the journeys of two epic heroes. Beowulf and Ulysses share similarities, but have different perspectives on how they travel and fight.
The two rulers are very loyal to their kingdom and their subjects. Beowulf quickly “accused himself of breaking God’s law” after the dragon had incinerated Geatland (708-709). He considers himself and his citizens as an entire entity. If a person causes fault to his rule, then everyone, including himself is blamed. Ulysses invites his subjects to travel with him as he concludes that “it’s not too late to seek a newer world” (57). He would love to carry his people to a better world and make them happy. His compassion is what makes him an epic hero in the poem. At the last moments of his life, Beowulf crowns his nephew, Wiglaf, for he is the “last of [their] far-flung family” (1036). The dying king knows that Wiglaf will lead the Geats to glory. Wiglaf is loyal to his cousin to the bitter end. The love toward their people shows throughout the entire poem.
Although their loyalty is strongly the same, the way that they view their subjects is completely different. Ulysses portrays his inhabitants as “a savage race” (4). His opinion displays that he is not a well-known king. Ulysses leads Ithaca poorly, thus making poorly constructed rules. The Geats are “the wisest and most knowing” (29). Unlike Ulysses, he is a strong leader and has arisen victorious in many battles. His kingdom is well-led. Ulysses is able to enjoy the “delight of battle with [his] peers” (16). Even if his subjects are savages, at least they are brave enough to join their leader in battle. That is why Ulysses is able to live longer. Beowulf’s soldiers “ran for their lives, fled deep in a