Compare and contrast the subject matter of the Iliad and Dante's Inferno.
Homer's other great epic, the Odyssey, probably has more in common with Dante's Inferno than the Iliad. Indeed, the Odyssey, like the Inferno, involves the hero descending into the underworld and returning after encountering its inhabitants. But both the Iliad and The Divine Comedy in general are epic poems, emphasizing the complex relationship between humanity and the divine. Perhaps the most obvious connection between the two poems is not really thematic, though. Dante populates hell with many of the figures from Homer's poems, including the blind poet himself. (Remember that the Roman epic poet Virgil is actually Dante's guide in Inferno). In Canto IV we discover Homer, along with other poets, including Horace, Ovid, and Lucan—all poets who would have been familiar to Dante's readers—and Hector, one of the main characters in the Iliad. These men are in the First Circle of Hell, reserved for those who were not evil people, but had been born before Christ and were therefore not able to be saved. One circle deeper into Hell, Dante encounters Achilles and Paris, two major figures in the Iliad, who are there for the sin of lust. Helen of Troy is there, too, for her betrayal of her husband, Menelaus. Their actions essentially set the events portrayed in the Iliad in motion. Odysseus, one of the most important characters in the Iliad, is in the Eighth Circle of Hell for his trickery. So there are many connections between Dante's Inferno and the Iliad, and a good essay might take this a step further by considering the reasons that Dante chose to portray these characters in Hell.