Inferno

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One of the most important heroes of Greek mythology, Ulysses (or Odysseus) appears in Homer's Iliad and is the protagonist of Homer's Odyssey. During the Trojan War, he helped plan the Trojan horse and also stole a sacred relic from the city along with Diomedes, during a secret night raid. He is punished in the eighth trench of the eighth circle of hell for his deception. He talks to Virgil and relates the story of his death: after sailing home from Troy (which, incidentally, the Odyssey narrates), he tried to sail to the ends of the earth, but went too far. God sank his ship with a whirlwind and drowned him.

Ulysses Quotes in Inferno

The Inferno quotes below are all either spoken by Ulysses or refer to Ulysses. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Sin, Justice, Pity and Piety Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Penguin Classics edition of Inferno published in 1950.
Canto 26 Quotes

Tormented there [...] Ulysses goes
With Diomede, for as they ran one course,
Sharing their wrath, they share the avenging throes.

Related Characters: Virgil (speaker), Ulysses, Diomedes
Page Number: 26.55-57
Explanation and Analysis:

Virgil informs Dante about the fates of two souls hiding beneath a split-flame. Ulysses and Diomede, he explains, are being punished for having stolen the palladium of Troy.

As he did in Limbo, Dante here incorporates classical figures and references into his own work. Instead of denying the importance of pagan figures in a Christian worldview, he finds a way to include them within the poem’s religious and artistic framework. This strategy is particularly effective when applied to the characters of Ulysses and Diomede, who are featured in the two most important classical Greek epics: the Iliad and the Odyssey. Both texts feature the underworld as a prominent location, but it functions radically differently from Dante’s. In Homer’s works, Ulysses is treated as a hero both above and below ground. Thus Dante has actually rewritten Homer’s narrative, which was in fact praised many Cantos before in Limbo. In this way, Dante is able to set his text in conversation with classical figures, but also rise above them by claiming the moral high ground of his Christian associations.

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Ulysses Character Timeline in Inferno

The timeline below shows where the character Ulysses appears in Inferno. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Canto 26
Paganism vs. Christianity Theme Icon
Individual Fame Theme Icon
...in two and asks who is under that flame. Virgil tells him that it is Ulysses and Diomedes. In Homer's Iliad these two heroes fought together in the Trojan War and... (full context)
Language Theme Icon
...Virgil addresses the dual flame and asks one of them to describe his final voyage. Ulysses answers and the flame flickers like a speaking tongue, giving forth a voice. (full context)
Language Theme Icon
Ulysses says that when he returned home from his long voyage from Troy, after being detained... (full context)
Paganism vs. Christianity Theme Icon
Individual Fame Theme Icon
This World vs. the Afterlife Theme Icon
Ulysses told his men that they would explore the world beyond the sun (the Western end... (full context)
Canto 27
Sin, Justice, Pity and Piety Theme Icon
This World vs. the Afterlife Theme Icon
Language Theme Icon
Ulysses leaves and another flame draws near, making strange muffled noises that Dante likens to the... (full context)