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Dante's Inferno and Homer's The Iliad

This study will compare and contrast Dante's Inferno with Homer's The Iliad and The Odyssey, focusing on the writing styles of the authors, but also covering other issues (point of view, moral messages, the role of memory, and heroism) which are often affected by and effect style. Not surprisingly, the fact that the three works are epics similarly shapes their author's styles to some degree, calling for a solemn, rhythmic approach to the most serious of themes--war and hell. Nevertheless, important and substantial differences exist in those styles, some based on the authors' intended audiences, some based on the authors' intentions, and some based on the contents of the tales. In general, Homer's style reflects the fact that his works are meant to delivered aloud to a live audience, as part of the oral tradition of storytelling. Dante, on the other hand, has written an epic poem with more rigid requirements with respect to rhyme scheme, length of line, and other poetic factors. Both authors mean to educate, or at least influence their audience morally and behaviorally, which inevitably adds to the formality of their styles. Even the latter generalization must be amended, however, for there are important thematic differences between Homer's two works (Iliad being more pessimistic and tragic, and Odyssey being more traditional and romantic, almost with a modern novel's approach, and a happy ending), and these thematic differences create differences in styles. On the other hand, whatever their moral messages, all three works seek to entertain, which brings into their work a liveliness and pace which a purely moralistic work would not necessarily demonstrate. All three works are full of action, travel, adventure, danger, violence and, suspense, and this vitality of plot is reflected in the vitality of the authors' styles.

Immediately, from the first lines of the works, the differences in styles are apparent. There is a majesty and a s...

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