Compare and contrast Tennyson’s Ulysses with Homer’s Odysseus. What does Tennyson’s version of the ancient Greek tale reveal about his own time and culture?

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Tennyson’s poem and Homer’s poem could not be more different. First of all, Tennyson’s poem is short—four stanzas. Homer’s Odyssey is in twenty-four books. As for substance, Homer’s Odysseus wants nothing more than to go home. He has had his fill of adventures. He is done with the sea, warfare, travel, and the like. What he wants is to embrace his wife, see his son, and finally be home. In a word, Odysseus has had his fill of the world outside of home.

Tennyson’s Ulysses, on the other hand, is at home, and he is bored. He does not want to rule: ruling is too domestic. Moreover, he does not want to be honored by people who mean little to him. Life in Ithaca means little compared to a life of adventure. Even in his old age, he wants to be out there. The first lines of the poem make this point clear:

It little profits that an idle king,
By this still hearth, among these barren crags,
Match'd with an aged wife, I mete and dole
Unequal laws unto a savage race,
That hoard, and sleep,...

(The entire section contains 2 answers and 592 words.)

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