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Ulysses

Ulysses

by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Greek Mythology

Symbol Analysis

Because the poem is spoken by a famous Greek hero it's no surprise that references to Greek mythology abound. Ulysses refers several times to the Trojan War and mentions several mythological landmarks in order to convey just how hungry he is for new adventures. More specifically, Ulysses' references to Greek mythology remind us of his heroic past while also giving us a sense of the (very large) scope of his future ambitions.

  • Lines 16-17: Ulysses describes how he enjoyed fighting on the "plains" of Troy, an ancient city located in what is now Northwestern Turkey.
  • Line 33: Ulysses introduces us to his son, Telémakhos, a figure who appears in Homer's Odyssey, an epic poem that describes Ulysses' (Odysseus') long journey home.
  • Line 53: Ulysses refers to himself and his fellow mariners as men that "strove with Gods." During the Trojan War, the gods – Athena, Ares, Venus, etc. – frequently took part in battle.
  • Lines 63-4: Ulysses suggests that if he and his friends die, they might visit the "Happy Isles," a sort of Elysium for heroes and others who lived virtuous lives. He implies that Achilles – the greatest of the Greek heroes who fought at Troy – resides there.

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