Background: Ulysseus is the Latin name for Odysseus, the Greek hero who came up with the idea of using a wooden horse with Greek soldiers inside to trick the Trojans, who just happened to worship a deity in the form of a horse, into bringing the horse into the walled city of Troy so that when they were involved in their religious festival, the Greeks would sneak out of the horse and attack the Trojans. Doing so, the Greeks ended the 10-year Trojan War,but for angering the gods in using the figure of a deity to trick the Trojans, Odysseus was sent on a quest to earn his way back to Greece. Homer writes about the last year of the Trojan War in THE ILLIAD and about Odysseus’ travels and trials in THE ODYSSEY.

The poem by Tennyson, then, is in the voice of Ulysseus/ Odysseus, who has now earned his way back to his Grecian home only to find that the wander-lust in him has been kindled and he wants to continue other quests, leaving his kingdom to his son who has the better temper to be a leader.


Essay format: Choose one topic on which to base the essay response:

1. What is the architectural/symbolic significance of the arch; that Ulysses speaks about in line :
2. What is the age of Ulysses in the poem and how is his age significant to what he wants to do?
3. What is Ulysses’ argument about "growing older?
4. Is your attitude/experience toward people that are older agree with or contrast to Tennyson’s view of aging?
5. What does this Romantic view of aging–as a viable part of life, not to be "accepted" but lived–say to you in your experience in growing older?


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