A Comparison of Odyssey and Oedipus the King
In the world of literature, there are many similarities and
differences between them. These similarities and differences are
significant because the reader can learn and thoroughly comprehend them.
Two examples of such literature are the epic poems Oedipus the King ,
written by Sophocles and The Odyssey, written by Homer who were both Greek
Oedipus the King and The Odyssey share many similarities. The most
important and significant similarity is that both epic poems are involved
in a conflict when we first encounter the poems. In The Odyssey, we learn
that the main character, Odysseus, has been held captive by the nymph
Calypso for twenty years. We also learn that Odysseus had finished (and
won) fighting a war against the city of Troy and has been held captive by
Calypso ever since. During this time, Odysseus' son and wife, whom Odysseus
left behind to fight in the war, have been patiently waiting for Odysseus'
return to his palace in Ithaca in which Odysseus is king. Telemachus,
Odysseus' son, has grown into a young man and he's constantly battling
Suitors from destroying and wasting his father's wealth while looking to
marry Penelope, Odysseus' wife. In Oedipus the King, a wild plague has been
killing a big population of the city-state of Thebes . This was a big
conflict that the people in Thebes turned to King Oedipus to solve. He
helped the city before by solving the riddle of the Sphinx and they needed
help from him once more. During this plague, blight on the crops was
present, children stillborn, women dying after giving birth, and cattle
The main characters in both epic poems were also very similar. Both
King Oedipus and Odysseus were well-respected leaders of their cities. This
respect is shown in The Odyssey when Zeus ordered his daughter Athene to
inform Odysseus' family that Odysseus was alive. Respect was shown toward
Oedipus when the people of Thebes crowned him king for solving the riddle
of the Sphinx. They both showed responsibilities when Odysseus went to
fight in the Trojan war and when King Oedipus took action in solving the
city's plague by sending Creon, his brother-in-law, to the Oracle of Apollo
to seek answers. Both characters were saviors because Odysseus helped to
win the war against the city of Troy while Oedipus solve the riddle of the
Sphinx and was crowned king as a result. Also, the wives of both characters
were strong because Penelope (Odysseus' wife) was faithful to her husband
and did not remarry even though her husband's whereabouts were unknown and
Jocasta (Oedipus' wife) tried to calm Oedipus down when he became livid
from accusations of murder. These two characters were also similar in that
they both ruled kingdoms in cities of Greece.
What was also similar between these two works of literature was the
fact that gods ruled the people below them. These gods controlled the
humans' every move like if the people were puppets on puppet strings. In
other words, gods controlled the fate of the humans. In The Odyssey, Zeus
was pretty much in charge of everything including the search for the god-
like Odysseus. Poseidon, the sea-god who had a grudge on Odysseus, was
testing Odysseus' fate by making him undergo a wide variety of torments.
Oedipus on the other hand, was living out a prophecy that the gods assigned
his family that led to Oedipus' banishment from his own kingdom.
Finally, both epic poems shared dramatic irony. In The Odyssey, the
audience and gods knew the whereabouts of Odysseus and knew what was
expected of him in the future while he and the whole city of Ithaca didn't.
In Oedipus the King, the audience knew that Oedipus lived through the
prophecy and his people were suffering as a result while Oedipus was
puzzled about the situation.
Like similarities, differences are present between two works of
literature. First, both authors who wrote these poems lived in different
time periods. Homer lived and wrote The Odyssey during 850-750 BC and
Sophocles lived and wrote Oedipus the King during 496-406 BC. Difference in
conflict is shown in The Odyssey, when Odysseus blinded Poseidon's son, the
Cyclops and this led to his capture and suffering from his family. Also,
Calypso kept Odysseus captive because she wanted to marry him. In Oedipus
the King, pain and suffering of the people of Thebes was caused when
Oedipus enacted the prophecy of killing his father and marrying his mother.
Other differences include the different cities these poems took place in,
the different type of drama each poem was The Odyssey being an adventurous
poem and Oedipus the King being a tragic poem, and the plot of each poem.
Finally, the major difference of each poem is the outcome. In The
Odyssey, Odysseus fought long and hard to find his way back to his family
and friends in Ithaca. In Oedipus the King, Oedipus would be banished from
the city of Thebes because he made the prophecy come true.
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