Homer And Virgils Heroes Head To Hell English Literature Essay

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The authors Homer and Virgil have their heroes go to the underworld and see a specific person in order to get home while, in contrast, Dante has himself go to the underworld for a selfish reason in The Inferno. He wants to save his soul and make a spiritual home for himself. In the Odyssey, Odysseus goes to the underworld to see Teresias who helps him in his odyssey to get back home. Similarly, in the Aeneid, Aeneas goes to the underworld to see his father, Anchises who tells him that he will create a new home for the fallen Trojans of Troy. The dead souls of the underworld hold the future of each of the protagonists.

All three heroes have different motives and obstacles to overcome to go to the underworld. Odysseus is wandering around after the Trojan War trying to get back home. At one point of his journey, Odysseus and his men travel to Aeaea, home of the beautiful witch-goddess Circe. Circe drugs a band of Odysseus's men and turns them into pigs. When Odysseus goes to rescue them, Hermes approaches him in the form of a young man. He tells Odysseus to eat an herb called molly to protect him from Circe's drug and then lunge at her when she tries to strike him with her sword. Odysseus follows Hermes' instructions, overpowering Circe and forcing her to change his men back to their human forms. Odysseus soon becomes Circe's lover, and he and his men live with her in luxury for a year. When his men finally persuade him to continue the voyage homeward, Odysseus asks Circe for the way back to Ithaca. She replies he must sail to Hades, the realm of the dead, to speak with the spirit of Teresias, a blind prophet who will tell him how to get home and foretell his future. Odysseus travels to the River of Ocean in the land of the Cimmerians. Odysseus sacrifices a ram, attracting the dead spirits to the blood. He holds them at bay and demands to speak with Teresias. Similarly in the Aeneid Aeneas must go to the underworld to see his father who foretells his future. Aeneas' father, Anchises, appears in front of Aeneas from the underworld and tells him that he must go to the temple of Apollo where Sybil a priestess will meet him. When the ships drop anchor off the coast of Cumae, near modern-day Naples. Following his father's instructions, Aeneas makes for the Temple of Apollo, where the Sibyl, a priestess, meets him. She commands him to make his request. Aeneas prays to Apollo to allow the Trojans to settle in Latium. The priestess warns him that more trials wait in Italy: fighting on the scale of the Trojan War, a foe of the caliber of the Greek warrior Achilles, and further interference from Juno. Aeneas inquires whether the Sibyl can gain him entrance to the underworld, so that he might visit his father's spirit as directed. The Sibyl informs him that to enter the underworld with any hope of returning, he must first have a sign. He must find a golden bough in the nearby forest. She instructs him that if the bough breaks off the tree easily, it means fate calls Aeneas to the underworld. If Aeneas is not meant to travel there, the bough will not come off the tree. When Aeneas goes the forest he is amazed by its large size and prays for guidance. After he says his prayer, two doves come to him and guide him to the tree with the bough. He manages to tear it off. He returns to Sybil with the bough as a sign that he is meant to go to the underworld. She then leads him to the entrance of the underworld. Inside the gates he sees the river Acheron and the ferry man Charon who delivers the spirits of the dead across the river; however, Aeneas notices that some souls are refused passage and must remain on the near bank. The Sibyl explains that these are the souls of dead people whose corpses have not received proper burial. Charon explains to the visitors that no living bodies may cross the river, but the Sibyl shows him the golden branch. Appeased, Charon ferries them across. On the other side, Aeneas stands aghast, hearing the wailing of thousands of suffering souls, the spirits of the recently deceased who line up before Minos for judgment. Sybil explains to Minos that Aeneas must go further to see his father. Aeneas continues to the field of war heroes, where he sees many who have died in the Trojan War. The Greeks flee at first sight of him. Sibyl urges Aeneas onward, and they pass an enormous fortress. Inside the fortress, Rhadamanthus doles out judgments upon the most evil of sinners, and terrible tortures are carried out. Finally, Aeneas and the Sibyl come to the Blessed Groves, where the good wander about in peace and comfort. At last, Aeneas sees his father. Anchises greets him warmly and congratulates him on having made the difficult journey. In contrast, Dante goes to the underworld too save his own soul. He uses Virgil as a guide more than as a fortune teller. During his life, Dante finds that he has strayed for the true path. He wanders through a dark forest and finds a hill where the sun shines above it. As he climbs three creatures appear, a leopard, a lion, and a she-wolf, which make him have to turn back. Returning in despair to the dark valley, Dante sees a human form in the woods, which soon reveals it to be the spirit, or shade, of the poet Virgil. Thrilled to meet the poet that he most admires, Dante tells Virgil about the beasts that blocked his path. Virgil replies that the she-wolf kills all who approach her but that, someday, a magnificent hound will come to chase the she-wolf back to Hell, where she was born. Virgil offers to serve as Dante's guide. He warns Dante, however, that before they can climb the hill they must first pass through the place of eternal punishment, Hell, and then a place of lesser punishment, Purgatory, only then can they reach God's city, Heaven. Encouraged by Virgil's assurances, Dante sets forth with his guide.

Odysseus and Aeneas both get advice from the people they must see in the underworld while Dante sees the sin and punishment of many of the past heroes. In the Odyssey, Teresias tells Odysseus that he has been suffering so much because of Poseidon. He also tells Odysseus that he will return home, reclaim his wife and palace from the wretched suitors, and then make another trip to a distant land to appease Poseidon. He warns Odysseus not to touch the flocks of the Sun when he reaches the land of Thrinacia; otherwise, he won't return home without suffering much more hardship and losing all of his crew. Similarly Anchises tells his son how he will create a new home for the Trojans in Italy. He gladly answers some of Aeneas's many questions, regarding such issues as how the dead are dispersed in the underworld and how good souls can eventually reach the Fields of Gladness. But with little time at hand, Anchises presses on to the reason for Aeneas's journey to the underworld-the explication of his lineage in Italy. Anchises describes what will become of the Trojan descendants: Romulus will found Rome, a Caesar will eventually come from the line of Ascanius, and Rome will reach a Golden Age of rule over the world. Finally, Aeneas grasps the profound significance of his long journey to Italy. Anchises accompanies Aeneas out of the underworld, and Aeneas drinks from the river of forgetfulness in order to get out of the underworld. Aeneas returns to his comrades on the beach. At once, they pull up anchor and move out along the coast. In contrast, in the Inferno, Dante sees all the punishment and sin that is in Hell. When the two poets, Dante and Virgil, pass the Gate of Hell they immediately hear cries of anguish. Dante sees the fist of the souls in torture. In each of the nine circles Dante sees worse and worse punishments. He sees that each circle has a specific torture for specific kind of sinners. Some circles such as circle 7, 8, and 9, have rounds for different kind of people. Odysseus and Aeneas go down to the underworld to see a specific person, while Dante, in the Inferno, goes to the underworld to return to the path of truth.

In the end, the three heroes accomplish what they set out to do. Odysseus reclaims his home from the suitors and he continues his life as the king of Ithaca. Similarly, in the Aeneid, Aeneas also has a battle. A man named Turnus also wants to marry Livonia from the Latin city of Latinum. She is the daughter of king Latinus. Aeneas must marry Livonia in order to create a new home for the fallen Trojans. Aeneas fights Turnus and wins but there is much fighting. The city of Latinum is almost burned down to ruins as the Trojans and the Latins fight. In the end of all the fighting Aeneas still emerges victorious and creates a new home for the Trojans. The new city is called Rome. Rome later becomes one of the largest and most powerful empires. Finally, in the Inferno Dante and Virgil reach circle 9. There they see Satan. After observing Satan, Dante and Virgil climb down Satan to get to a path that leads out of the underworld. Dante and Virgil climb the long path through this hemisphere, until they finally emerge to see the stars again on the opposite end of the Earth from where they began. In conclusion, all the Heroes were successful in what they set out to accomplish. Even though Odysseus lost all his men, he still returned home to his wife Penelope and his son Telemachus. Aeneas also lost men in his battle with the Latins but he emerged victorious and finally found a new home for the Trojans. Dante, who saw all the crimes and punishments in the underworld, returned to his path of truth. He also created a spiritual home for himself with the other poets in the limbo as the sixth poet of their group.

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