The Odyssey And Tales Of Wayland The Smith Essay

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Though both considered romances, The Odyssey and tales of Wayland the smith differ greatly in narrative and context. Homer’s The Odyssey is an epic poem composed in the eighth century Before Christ, detailing the nostos—or homecoming—of the hero Odysseus after the Trojan War, while tales of Wayland, such as in the tenth century Old English lament Deor , the tenth century Old Norse poem Völundarkviða and the thirteenth century Old Norse prose narrative The Story of Velent the Smith , tell of the remarkable metalworker’s escape from the clutches of a wicked king. While the category of romance is ‘notoriously slippery’ , its defining features are evident in these texts. By analysing the active role of men, the passive role of women, and each gender’s interaction with the supernatural, one can discern that these are elements which constitute the concept of romance.
The quest is a common trope in the genre of romance ; it is the hero’s toilsome and often lengthy pursuit of the object they desire. Odysseus’ desire is for his home and family in Ithaka, while Wayland’s is merely to escape from captivity, and—in some texts—be reunited with his wife. These male protagonists are characterised by their strength, their skilfulness, and perpetual action—defining qualities of the hero in romantic literature. In Book 12 of The Odyssey, Eurylokhos describes his master as ‘one of those hard men whose spirit never flags and whose body never tires,’ even saying that he ‘must be made of iron…

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