Compare And Contrast Beowulf And The Odyssey

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An epic poem is a long, narrative poem that is usually about heroic deeds and events that are significant to the culture of the poet. These poems tell tales of intense adventures and heroic feats. They often include cultural references to the time it was written and was a way for the people to spread their ideas and beliefs. Epic poems are very important when a person is trying to learn more about a certain culture or era in which the poem was written. Two of the most famous epic poems are Beowulf and The Odyssey. Although no two poems are exactly them same, Beowulf and The Odyssey do share a few similarities. Between Beowulf and The Odyssey, the most salient similarity they share is the way the monsters from the epics are symbolic and challenge…show more content…
Commonly, epic poems have a theme called “good vs evil.” This theme runs in both Beowulf and The Odyssey. Monsters such as Grendel, Grendel’s mother, and the dragon from Beowulf and Polyphemus, Scylla, and the sirens from The Odyssey all represent evil in the epic poems. These evil beings make their protagonists look like perfect people in comparison. They do this because the monsters represent the qualities their respective societies do not accept. For example in The Odyssey it says, “Give it me again with a ready heart, and tell me thy name straightway, that I may give thee a stranger's gift whereat thou mayest be glad’… So I spoke, and he straightway answered me with pitiless heart: `Noman will I eat last among his comrades, and the others before him; this shall be thy gift.’” (The Odyssey Book 9, 355-356 and 368-367) Polyphemus did not show xenia, which is one of the greatest offenses to the Greeks. From Beowulf we also see an example of a monster going strongly against the common practice of the culture. “Sad lays were sung about the beset king, the vicious raids and ravages of Grendel, his long and unrelenting feud, nothing but war; how he would never parley or make peace with any Dane nor stop his death-dealing nor pay the death-price.” (Beowulf, line 153) Grendel would not stop murdering or pay for the deaths he has caused which was the opposite of how…show more content…
These epic poems have different functions for their respective monsters. In Beowulf, the monsters Beowulf, the main protagonist, fights are his way of becoming an epic hero. Defeating Grendel, Grendel’s mother, and the dragon are the main ways that Beowulf becomes a hero. These monsters are his ultimate goal. The monster’s defeat in this epic mean much more to the main protagonist because they are how he achieves his glory and fame. When Beowulf defeated the monsters he was heavily praised. For example, “Then away they rode, the old retainers with many a young man following after, a troop on horseback, in high spirits on their bay steeds. Beowulf's doings were praised over and over again.” (Beowulf, line 852-856.) On the other hand, Polyphemus, Scylla, and the sirens in The Odyssey are obstacles to Odysseus’ main goal. Odysseus must fight his monsters in order to get back home and win back his kingdom. The monsters from this epic are simply steps the main protagonist must take to get to his ultimate goal and become an epic hero. These monster’s defeat do not mean nearly as much to Odysseus. When Odysseus defeated each one, no one celebrated him the way they did for Beowulf. For example, “-men around me trying to check me, calm me, left and right: So headstrong-why? Why rile the beast again?” (The Odyssey, line 548-550) His men did not
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