Comparing The Odyssey With The Song Of Roland

Write an essay comparing The Odyssey with either The Song of 
 or Dante’s Inferno. In this paper you will write an 
in-depth analysis using your own ideas and excerpts from the epic poems in the 
form of quotes, paraphrase, or summary.

As you prepare to write this essay, make sure you understand what you are 
being asked to do.

Pick a Topic

First, write about one of the following options:

  1. Although nearly two thousand years separate The Odyssey and Dante’s 
    Inferno, both works are epic poems that: 

  • Explore the theme of good versus evil.
  • Employ journey as a metaphor for maturation.
  • Reveal and teach cultural values about leadership.
  • Caution audiences about the appeal of temptation.
  • Contemplate the nature of immortality.

Compare and contrast how one or two of these topics is developed in The 
 and Dante’s Inferno. Be sure to contextualize your 
examination in the cultural values, philosophies, literary movements, and ideas 
that typify each work. Use literary perspectives to enrich your analysis.

  1. The Song of Roland and The Odyssey, though separated by 
    thousands of years, are both epic works whose protagonists are warriors engaged 
    in violent conflict: Roland is a medieval Crusader and Odysseus is on a long 
    journey home after conquering Troy. Additionally, both works: 

  • Explore the theme of good versus evil.
  • Reveal and teach cultural values about leadership.
  • Contemplate the nature of immortality.
  • Examine the moral and practical implications of loyalty and betrayal.

Compare and contrast the figures Roland and Odysseus by considering whether 
and/or how they exhibit the characteristics of an epic hero. Be sure to 
contextualize your examination in the cultural values, philosophies, literary 
movements, and ideas that typify each work. Use literary perspectives to enrich 
your analysis.

Develop a Tentative Thesis

As you consider different options for your thesis,

  • Develop a few hypotheses about the text that are based on your own 
    perspectives and relate to the topic that you chose to explore for this 
  • In addition to considering the texts’ plots, reflect on the role(s) that 
    genre and other elements of literature (see the online lecture on this topic) 
    play in revealing medieval Western European and ancient Greek cultures, 
    including important philosophies and values associated with these regions and 
  • Review the lectures on literary movements and literary perspectives 
    (feminist, psychoanalytic, and historicist perspectives on literature) and 
    identify which of these analytical tools best supports the ideas that you are 
    beginning to develop.
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