The sources of inspiration of “Ulysses” were canto 26 of “Divina Commedia” by Dante and the “Odyssea” by Homer. As concerns canto 26 of “Divina Commedia” he took from it the idea of Tyresia, the fortune teller, that told Ulysses that he would have died in the last voyage on the sea, when he is very old and this is the idea that we have in the dramatic monologue. In Dante’s Divina Commedia Tennyson puts Ulysses in to the hell for two different reasons: the first is because of the fraud of the wooden horse of Troy, the second reason why he is an overreacher, because he didn’t accept the limits, he wanted to overcame the Hercules pillars that at the time of Dante were considered the limits of the known world and no one had to overcame them. Ulysses did it in his last vojage and he died during it in canto 26 of Divina Commedia because he died in his ship and the other mariners against the mountains of the Purgatory. The other reason why he is condemned by Dante is because he preferred to go by sea because he was an overreacher and because he was a man of knowledge so he preferred it rather the affection of family.
Tennyson’s point of view is opposite from Dante, he took inspiration from him but he didn’t condemn him, instead he admired him because he represented the progress, the desire for the science and to know that were typical of Victorian man. He appreciates him so much that we can say Ulysses represents a sort of alter ego of the poet himself. In the dramatic monologue we have an old Ulysses that is now, after the adventures he had lived, the king of Ithaca. Ulysses is not happy to be the king of this island, instead he is profounded dissatisfied with his present life because he doesn’t like to live the life of the bourgeois because these people live the same life every day and the only them aim was making money. Ulysses wants to know more and more, infact he’s defined like a man of adventure and of knowledge.
In the monologue Ulysses speaks about himself and his experiences of life and he made a very clear difference between himself and Telemachus, his son. One of the greatest problems from Elizabeth I up Queen Victoria was the anarchy, infact for them this was one of the most terrible problems and so if Ulysses wants to go away and to live for the last vojage he had to live his reign well governed and the new governor of Ithaca will be Telemachus. So Ulysses will leave the scepter of Ithaca to his own son, he loves very much his son and Telemachus has got all the virtues typical of the Victorian man because he’s a religious man, he has affection for the family, he has all the good qualities of the governor and he has also the capacity to submit the savage race that are the people of Ithaca and this is typical of the imperialism (the task of English people was to spread them culture and to civilization savage races). In the last stanza Ulysses addresses to silent listeners, that are the mariners that had a lot of adventures with him, and he wants to convince them to go with him for the last voyage.
In this canto Dante is together with Virgilio and they are visiting the place, they meet Ulysses and they are in the hell and he tries to explain Dante what happened to Ulysses in the final part of his life and the reason why he is in the hell.
Ulysses is condemned to the hell by Dante because he preferred to go on vajages, to search for his knowledge instead to stay together with his family.
The same situation is in the canto 26 and in the monologue by Tennyson, because in both the crew and Ulysses are old and weak.
As in the dramatic monologue Dante wrote a speech in which Ulysses speaks and he refers to the mariners in order to convince them to go with him. In Dante we can find an important reference to the experience and the importance of this one in a mess life, Dante says to think over your origin and that the mariners are crazy like beasts because they follow them instincts but they have to follow the knowledge and virtue. The other mariners want to go with Ulysses. For five months Ulysses and his crew were travelling until they met the huge mountain of Purgatory, at the beginning they are very happy but immediately they change their mood because they understood that the mountain were the end of their life. So something like a depth swallow up them, they were obliged to spin for three times until they dead.