The Phoenician Sailor – Phlebas, the Smyrna Merchant – Mr. Eugenides, have the same symbolic character, and are related to Shakespeaere’s play The Tempest. In The Tempest, Ariel’s song to the shipwrecked Ferdinand, is about the drowning of Ferdinand’s father, Alonso.
Connection to The Waste Land
The Waste Land has many references about The Tempest: the drowning of Alonso and Ferdinand is seen as their purification by water, so Eliot was impressed by the perspective or the view that the suffering is changed into art. Ferdinand is related to Phlebas, and Mr. Eugenides. Since drowning is done by water, which this leads to purification, water plays diverse roles in the poem and is the symbol of purification, baptism, refreshment, and growth.