After colonizing their own peninsula the Greeks set out across the Aegean and started encountering the many different cultures and peoples that occupied these lands. Mariners came home from these voyages with tales of wondrous lands and strange peoples and these tales influenced the storytellers of the Greeks. Poets like Homer and playwrights like Aeschylus started incorporating these barbarians into their heroic tales and historic dramas as a way to create foreign opposition for their heroes and the one unifying aspect of their tales is how they describe these strangers from strange lands. These writers and many others that wrote in the Greek tradition showed foreigners as the exact opposite of the Greeks, they characterized these new peoples by their differences and then completely exaggerated these aspects to make them seem like the down to the Greek up, the black to the Greek white. .
Homer's Odyssey is one of the Greek epic poems that show extreme differences in foreigners. During Odysseus' travels he encounters many different peoples like the Cyclopes, Lotus Eaters, Laestrygonians, Phaiakians, and even minor gods and monsters. When we first see these peoples through the eyes of Odysseus, they are shown to be extremely different from the true Greeks, like Odysseus himself. Some are "hyper- good and some are evil. Homer manipulates these differences to make the reader believe these foreigners are really the exact opposite of true Greeks and even makes these differences incredibly extreme to show how civilized the Greeks are compared to them. Even though he makes some of the foreigners that Odysseus meets seem to be kind and good, they too have their imperfections, like Calypso is an adulteress and the Phaiakians are too civilized, and when he compares these seemingly good peoples to the "perfect- Odysseus he even puts the good foreigners in a bad light. Also when Homer does make Odysseus encounter truly evil creatures he adds to their evilness by giving them traits that are morally repugnant to the Greek people to illicit a response from them, like the overly blasphemous Polyphemos.