Common Themes

The Odyssey, by Homer -- Hamlet, by Shakespeare

The Odyssey, the Cyclops says to Poseidon:

“Hear me, Poseidon, blue-maned Earth-Holder, If you are the father you claim to be, Grant that Odysseus, son of Laertes, May never reach his home on Ithaca. But if he is fated to see his family again, And return to his home and own native land, May he come late, having lost all companions, In another’s ship, and find trouble at home.” (9.526-533)

In this passage, the Cyclops asked his father, Poseidon to take revenge on Odysseus. The Cyclops wants to make sure that Odysseus never makes it beck home, but if he does he wants it to be a long time before he gets there and he wants Odysseus to find trouble once he reaches home. The Cyclops is asking for this revenge because Odysseus blinds him, out wits him and escapes the Cyclops cave.

Hamlet, Ghost is Speaking to Hamlet:

GHOST “Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder.

HAMLET Murder!

GHOST Murder most foul, as in the best it is, But this most foul, strange and unnatural.

HAMLET Haste me to know’t, that I, with wings as swift As meditation or the thoughts of love, May sweep to my revenge.” (1.5.25-31)

The ghost of Hamlet's father tells Hamlet he has been murdered in a foul way. Hamlet asks his father's ghost to tell him about it so he can channel the love he has for his father into revenge for his father.

The Odyssey, Helios says to Zeus:

“Father Zeus, and you other gods eternal, Punish Odysseus’ companions, who have insolently Killed the cattle I took delight in seeing Whenever I ascended the starry heaven And whenever I turned back from heaven to earth. If they don’t pay just atonement for the cows I will sink into Hades and shine on the dead.” (12.387.394)

Odysseus forbids his crew not to eat Helios' cattle. Odysseus falls asleep and his crew kill and eat some of the cattle. The god, Helios, want Zeus to punish Odysseus' crew because they killed the "pretty, spiraled-horn" cattle which Helios liked so well. Helios enjoyed looking at the cattle. Helios says if Zeus does not punish the crew, he will shine down on the underworld and make it light.

Hamlet, Laertes is speaking to Claudius:

“How came he dead? I'll not be juggled with To hell, allegiance! vows, to the blackest devil! Conscience and grace, to the profoundest pit I dare damnation: to this point I stand, That both the worlds I give to negligence, Let come what comes; only I'll be revenged Most thoroughly for my father.” (4.5.126-132)

Laertes comes home to discover his father has been killed. He tells Claudius he does not care what happens to him. He will even risk damnation, but he will take revenge for his father's death.