Analysis of the Odyssey and the Song of Roland

Analysisof the Odyssey and the Song of Roland

Analysisof theOdysseyand the Songof Roland

Despitethe time differential of the two poems, both theOdysseyand the Songof Roland offergreat insights into the philosophies, cultural values, and ideals ofthe French and Greek from a unified European culture standpoint(Adamopoulos, 2012). Providing an in-depth analysis of the Songof Rolandand TheOdyssey tohighlight the attributes of epic heroes is an imperative aspect. Assuch, the discourse addresses the distinct cultural values emphasizedin the two epic poems about their unique locations and time. Instressing the different cultural values presented, the discussionprovides the themes of heroism, religious beliefs and the fight forgood against evil. Thefight for good against evil is not usually easy, but where good wins,the society ends up achieving something great.

TheOdysseyis an epic poem that is attributed to the Greek author, Homer (Homer,Rieu&ampRieu, 2009).People consider the poem as an embodiment of western culture as itwas initially a poem passed from one generation to the next orally.On the other hand, the Songof Rolandis an epic poem from the medieval ages concerned with the exploits ofa French leader known as Charles or Charlemagne(Burgess, 1990).Both literary works illustrate distinct epic hero attributes whereRoland is the hero in the medieval poem while Odysseus is the maincharacter in TheOdyssey.BoththeOdysseyand the Songof Roland areregarded as epic texts that explain the beliefs that people had inthe past which goes a long way into bringing into perspective thekind of beliefs that they held. The beliefs that were developed inboth the societies highlighted have been passed down to thesubsequent generations for the benefit of people in future (Tracy,2013).

Inthe Songof Roland,the author strongly depicts Roland as the bravest warrior of the timewhose deep sense of loyalty and courtesy to the empire and emperorgoverned his actions. The author clearly illustrates the brevity ofRoland through the phrase, “men for their lords’ great hardshipsabide(Burgess, 1990).”In this statement, the hero is conversing with a fellow warrior,Victor as they prepare for battle. The poem depicts Roland as a manof valor who does not consider it a challenge to follow fully andabide by the call of duty. As a fiercely courageous individual,Roland gains the support of other comrades not only due to hiscourage but also due to his high degree of confidence he exudesduring the dispensation of assigned duties (Adamopoulos, 2012). Theone aspect that seems to motivate Roland in his actions is the merewords of Archbishop Tupin where he tells people, “confess your sinsand ask God to forgive you. I will save your souls, and when you die,you will die in martyrdom”(Tracy,2013). Roland understands clearly that if he chooses to obey such words, hewill stand to be rewarded greatly by God. As such, he offersinsights into some of the human virtues considered as noble among theEuropean societies of the time. When Roland encounters a situationwhere no assistance is available, he opts for a noble death ratherthan letting the enemies capture him as it could be a disgrace.Roland’s boldness shows his commitment to duty and honor, whichdefined men during times of war.

Similarly,in the epic poem, Odyssey,the central figure is Odysseus, who despite many odds comes out theepic hero (Homeret al., 2009).Throughout the ancient poem, one comes to appreciate the Greekattributes concerning a man of valor. The author depicts Odysseus asan individual who desires to become glorious, noble, confident inauthority, robust and above all, courageous (Adamopoulos, 2012).Other than bearing these traits, he also comes out as an intelligentman such that one can embrace the fact that the ancient Greeksocieties adored intellect. For instance, if it were not for hissharp and quick thinking, he could not have possibly overcome thebizarre situations like absconding from the Cyclops’s cave. Thisis also well explained in the concept of Crusades where indicatesthat Christians need to have a strong show of faith so that they maybe able to experience the “victory of the holy cross.” This, as aresult, motivates people to have a strong portrayal of the faithcharacteristic, which is something that’s left to be desired in amajor way (Tracy, 2013).

Fromthe good against evil standpoint, both theOdyssey,as well as the Song of Roland, illustrates this feature concisely(Adamopoulos, 2012). In the two pieces of literature, right alwayssubdues evil and as such, this is what the European culture commonlyprojects. Similarly, the same attribute is consistent with thereligious affiliation in the poems. It is evident that Europeancultures in the past also appreciated the fact that good is notalways present in the world (Adamopoulos, 2012). When evil abounds,western culture remained reliant on the exploits of good individualsto subdue it and thus, bring about good in the society. For instance,in the Odyssey,the hero, as well as some of his accomplices, found themselvestrapped in the Cyclops’ cave (Homeret al., 2009).As such, Odysseus subdues evil and escape from it unscathed depictinggood as being superior to evil. Western culture as illustrated in theOdysseypoints out that the ancient Greek society considered marriage as agreat union, which people should jealously guard at all, times.Odysseus after his successful exploits in Troy had a sole objectiveof reuniting with Penelope, his wife back home. Upon successfullyovercoming numerous and diverse challenges, he finally gets to Ithacawhere he finds his wife almost married off to some suitors (Homeret al., 2009).Odysseus slays the suitors, and other members of the community hailhim for doing so, which shows people’s high regard for marriage.In the project, Crusaders,as outlined by Kisha Tracy, there is an indication that people needengage where they eagerly remit their sins so that they may be ableto retain their assurance of having a reward in heaven. This goes along way in helping to show the way goodness prevails over evil(Tracy, 2013).

Similarly,the author pronounces the fight of good against evil widely in theSongof Roland.Theauthor considers the French people, in this case, referred to as theFranks as good as their allegiance is to the one true God. On theother hand, the author depicts the Saracens as evil and thus, underthe command of Roland, it is the obligation of the Franks to ensurethat they riddle off the evil from the society(Burgess, 1990).Roland’s war in essence highlights that their mission is a holy oneand thus cannot loose. If they suffer defeat gracefully, then Godwill take them into heaven as saints. TheCrusade Concept draws the views from both the Songof Roland andtheOdyssey. Itexplains the forces that both societies expressed in the text facedas they attempted to fight against evil (Tracy, 2013).


Adamopoulos,J. (2012). The emergence of social meaning: A theory of actionconstrual. Handbookof Social Resource Theory(pp. 255-272). Springer New York.

Burgess,G. S. (1990).Thesong of Roland.London,UK:Penguin.

Homer,Rieu, E. V., &ampRieu, D. C. H. (2009).TheOdyssey.London,UK: Penguin Classics.

Tracy,K (2013). Teaching the Crusades in a World Literature Survey CourseUsing Interactive Media: An Overview. ThisRough Magic.Vol. 4, No. 1, (June 2013), pp. 68-83.