The Odyssey

Odysseus: Cultural Supremacist or Embittered Narrator?

The foreboding dark mist in âthe gloom of the nightâ? (141) shadowing Odysseusâ arrival to the island of the Cyclopes suggests a sinister and frightening site. Recounting the unnaturalness of the occupants and the horror of the ensuing events, Odysseusâ narration seemingly confirms this interpretation. However, an attentive perusal of the islandâs description, presented from lines 105 to 192 of chapter nine in Homerâs Odyssey, reveals that Odysseusâ judgement of the island begins before his terrifying encounter with the Cyclopes. Does this suggest that Odysseusâ negative sentiments towards the Cyclopes derive from a staunch belief in the superiority of Greeks? Since Odysseus narrates this story after the fact, however, he could instead be ascribing his anger towards the Cyclopes onto his account of the islandâs people. In this essay, I propose that Odysseusâ true motives actually form a nuanced junction of the two hypotheses.

Odysseusâ incessant criticism of the Cyclopes suggests that he views those who are different to be inhuman. The first adjectives he employs to describe the Cyclopes are âlawlessâ? and âoutrageousâ? (14), suggesting people who are wild since they live outside the law. While his emphasis on the fact they...

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