The Odyssey vs the Lord of the Rings

July 2, 2017 Religion

Comparing the Odyssey to the Lord of the Rings The Lord of the Rings and Odyssey are two very weird stories in my opinion. The two stories include several similarities. The most noteworthy similarity of the two that were in common was the use of themes. Both included similar themes such as, life, death,power, brotherly love, myth, temptation, and journey. One thing I noticed was the use of several different themes included in both stories. In the Lord of the Rings the inhabitants of Middle Earth join to save themselves from enslavement. Centuries before, a ring was forged putting much power into control of who had it.

Some men fell into that power, but an alliance of men and elves defeated it. The Ring was cut from Sauron hand. Sauron was a antagonist character who was pursuing the power by wearing the ring. After being cut from Saurons hand, the ring should have been destroyed, but a human prince, Isildur, took it. Isildur was slain, and the Ring fell into a river. Myth also played a part in The Lord of the Rings, the sense of transience and lost grandeur that pervades The Lord of the Rings goes, in part, with the territory in which Tolkien is wading.

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He writes the novel in a mythic mode, and one of the conventions of myth is that it describes a past that is more glorious than the present. This sense of loss certainly is present in the Greek myths, for example, or in Homer’s epic poems that draw on these myths—both of which describe a world in which men and gods mix freely, a world that is no more. Tolkien’s own work is something between mythology and fiction, locating itself in a middle ground between a past that is remembered only in song and the everyday present of the reader.

This sense of ancientness is constantly present, brought to life in chants, poems, and graven inscriptions. As Tolkien shows again and again—whether with the Elves or with the Numenoreans or the Dwarves—the stories that the characters tell define them. In some cases, as with Aragorn for example, this mythology explains not only where a character comes from, but also where he or she is going. The characters carry their past and their lore around with them, and they are virtually unable to speak without referring to this lore.

The twist Tolkien adds is that these “myths,” while retaining all of the usual metaphorical resonance and symbolic simplicity, also happen to be true—at least in his world. This sense of reality within the novel, in turn, lends power to even the most everyday occurrences in Middle-earth,The themes of life, death, and power were use in this specific part of the story. In the Odyssey these three themes happened the entire story. A lot of men fighting in the Trojan War lost their lives which is an example of the death theme.

While Odysseus was away fighting in the Trojan War, there were several meant attempting to convince his wife that he was dead. These men were in pursuit to gain power by marrying his wife. Another theme that was used was temptation. The initial act that frustrated so many Achaeans’ homecoming was the work of an Achaean himself: Ajax (the “Lesser” Ajax, a relatively unimportant figure not to be confused with the “Greater” Ajax, whom Odysseus meets in Hades) raped the Trojan priestess Cassandra in a temple while the Greeks were plundering the fallen city.

That act of impulse, impiety, and stupidity brought the wrath of Athena upon the Achaean fleet and set in motion the chain of events that turned Odysseus’s homecoming into a long nightmare. It is fit that the Odyssey is motivated by such an event, for many of the pitfalls that Odysseus and his men face are likewise obstacles that arise out of mortal weakness and the inability to control it. The submission to temptation or recklessness either angers the gods or distracts Odysseus and the members of his crew from their journey: they yield to hunger and slaughter the Sun’s flocks, and they eat the fruit of the lotus and forget about their homes.

Even Odysseus’s hunger for kleos is a kind of temptation. He submits to it when he reveals his name to Polyphemus, bringing Poseidon’s wrath upon him and his men. In the case of the Sirens, the theme is revisited simply for its own interest. With their ears plugged, the crew members sail safely by the Sirens’ island, while Odysseus, longing to hear the Sirens’ sweet song, is saved from folly only by his foresighted command to his crew to keep him bound to the ship’s mast. Homer is fascinated with depicting his rotagonist tormented by temptation: in general, Odysseus and his men want very desperately to complete their nostos, or homecoming, but this desire is constantly at odds with the other pleasures that the world offers As for the authors, Tolkien was well-versed and well-educated in the classics. He spoke ancient Greek fluently and would have known the works of Homer inside and out. No doubt his works were influenced by Homer in at least a minor way. Unfortunately we know very little about Homer, and in fact some scholars’ debate whether he even existed, so drawing comparisons to the two authors may be difficult.

What we can consider however is the theory that Homer was a member of a group of poets called the Homeridae, which literally means hostages. These men were believed to be descendants of prisoners of war and as such, were not sent to war due to their dubious loyalties. Homer no doubt bore witness to many conflicts and used his writings to warn against the dangers of war. Similarly, Tolkien confined the Lord of the Rings after he returned from World War I. His experiences there and his feelings about the evil of war are readily apparent in the Lord of the Rings.

Both have to deal with the destruction of walled cities. Both of theses stories have quests and both have mythical beings manipulating the outcomes of mortal events. There is also of course the ever-generic struggle of good versus evil. In the Odyssey, Odysseus is returning from a warm driven by greed, arrogance, and hate; similarly, the war of the ring in Lord of the Rings is driven by the same.. In the Odyssey, we see the destruction of Troy by the new world order of the Greeks; in the Lord of the Rings we see Sauron and his new world order attempt to destroy the old world of Middle-Earth.

The use of religion can also be included in a huge similarity because there are obvious Christian ethics in Lord of the Rings and the Odyssey has the use of Greek mythology. A small thing that is different about them is that The odyssey is a poem whereas The Lord of the Rings is a novel. They both had symbols for the Lord of the Rings it was the the rings. The Rings of Power represent pure, limitless power and its attendant responsibilities and dangers. The One Ring of Sauron confers almost unimaginable power to its wearer; however, in return, it exerts an immense pressure on its wearer, and inevitably corrupts him or her.

The Three Elven Rings, on the other hand, are imbued with a different sort of power, one closely tied to learning and building. Galadriel’s ring, for instance, gives the Lady of Lorien the power of sight into the unknown, which she uses to good ends. Galadriel’s ability to use her ring responsibly is rooted in the unwavering self-control she demonstrates when she refuses the take the One Ring from Frodo. In the Odyssey food was a symbol very weird but it was. Although throwing a feast for a guest is a common part of hospitality, hunger and the consumption of food often have negative associations in the Odyssey.

They represent lack of discipline or submission to temptation, as when Odysseus tarries in the cave of the Cyclops, when his men slaughter the Sun’s flocks, or when they eat the fruit of the lotus. The suitors, moreover, are constantly eating. Whenever Telemachus and Penelope complain about their uninvited guests, they mention how the suitors slaughter the palace’s livestock. Odysseus kills the suitors just as they are starting their dinner, and Homer graphically describes them falling over tables and spilling their food.

In almost all cases, the monsters of the Odyssey owe their monstrosity at least in part to their diets or the way that they eat. Scylla swallows six of Odysseus’s men, one for each head. The Cyclops eats humans, but not sheep apparently, and is gluttonous nonetheless: when he gets drunk, he vomits up wine mixed with pieces of human flesh. The Laestrygonians seem like nice people—until their queen, who is described as “huge as a mountain crag,” tries to eat Odysseus and his men. In these cases, excessive eating represents not just lack of self-control, but also the total absence of humanity and civility


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