Analysis Of Polyphemus In Homer's Odyssey

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The cyclops Polyphemus effectively sets up the entire plot of Homer’s Odyssey, unleashing Poseidon’s wrath on Odysseus and consequently emerging as one of his most formidable rivals. Despite being perceived by Odysseus as an uncivilized savage and the polar opposite of a Greek citizen, it becomes evident that although the two are opposed in terms of customs, they fundamentally resemble one another when analyzed through the lens of xenia, rendering Odysseus’ worldview xenophobic. Thus, the Polyphemus episode turns into a powerful allegory for how the West has traditionally viewed people from foreign cultures that they sought to subjugate. Odysseus regards Polyphemus as inferior because of behavior that he sees as uncivilized when compared to …show more content…

The Cyclopes’ herding practices differ from the Greek custom of agriculture, while the rather individualistic nature of Cyclopean society differs from the emphasis on the polis and immediate family in Greece. Cyclopean society has no formal laws, while Odysseus remains accustomed to the government systems of his beloved Ithaca. Odysseus finds a society so fundamentally different incomprehensible and subsequently casts it aside as barbaric and inferior to Greek society. When Polyphemus later mocks Zeus’ power, Odysseus sees it as yet another affront to his beloved culture and ingrained belief system. Nevertheless, the majority of Polyphemus’ purportedly savage acts that Odysseus finds fault with are replicated by the Greek hero. Odysseus and his shipmates linger in the Cyclops’ cave in hopes of a guest-gift—a custom under the rules of xenia—despite themselves being unobservant of the practice. Xenia dictates that the guest is obliged to treat the host well and not impose on their home for a prolonged period; however, Odysseus almost immediately violates this principle by mooring their ship without permission

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