Ulysses is old, world-weary, and coming to the end of a long, illustrious life. Far from enjoying his twilight years, however, he's feeling thoroughly bored and miserable. It's a huge comedown for a legendary hero and warrior to spend all his time at home with his wife, dealing with the tedious minutiae of governing Ithaca. He longs for those golden days of youth when he regularly took to the high seas in search of glory and adventure. Ulysses has always been a man of action, so any prolonged period of enforced idleness must feel like hell on earth.
Ulysses's general mood, then, is one of boredom, but he's also defiant. He still has enough of the old vim and vigor within him to contemplate heading back out to sea and exploring new worlds. He knows that he doesn't have long to live, but he's determined to make the most of his few remaining years upon this earth. Above all, that means keeping his mind and body active, which is good advice for anyone approaching the sunset of their lives.