Both The Odyssey and the Aeneid share some similarities as epics; both describe the trials of a heroic figure who is the ideal representative of a particular culture.
In The Odyssey, Odysseus encounters a one-eyed giant on his journey named Polyphemus in the land of the Cyclops. Before he even comes across Polyphemus, he and his men raid the abundant food in the cave. Afterwards, his men want to sail off but Odysseus insists on staying to challenge the hospitality of the creature, who proves to be no charming host. Odysseus is aware that some of his men may die in this process, but is pride is overpowering his cocky personality. Polyphemus scoffs at the concept of hospitality and welcomes his guests by devouring two for dinner and trapping the rest inside his cave for later. The Cyclops demands to know Odysseusâ€™ name, but he says it is â€œNobody.â€ Odysseus seizes the opportunity to grind a lance into the Cyclopsâ€™ single eye, blinding him. Polyphemus cries for help, but when the other Cyclops arrive and ask who is killing him he answers â€œNobody! Nobody is killing me!â€ As Odysseus and his men set sail the next morning, the hero mocks the wounded monster and informs him that he, Odysseus of Ithaca, not a â€œNobodyâ€, has gouged out his eye. He is not simply showing pride in his name, but foolish arrogance that allows the monster to identify him.
In the Aeneid, Aeneas also comes across this giant, but is fearful and cautious. He does not test the monsterâ€™s hospitality nor reveals foolish arrogance; he and his men would rather quietly escape. Aeneas does not want to put his menâ€™s lives in danger. They find one of Odysseusâ€™ men who was left behind. They are willing to assist the Greek and take him with them on their journey rather than kill him. This demonstrates the morality and honesty of the Trojans and brings up the feminism and weakness they also portray.