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The Reckless Characterization Of Polyphemus

            In The Odyssey the poet Homer explores the theme of a civilized society and .
             hospitality or xenia through many of the adventures and characters that Odysseus .
             encounters on his journey home. One such event that illustrates this theme occurs when .
             Odysseus lands on the island of the one eyed Cyclops, Polyphemus. The Cyclops has .
             no concern or care for the rules of a civilized society. Instead he is very inhospitable .
             towards his visitors without offering friendship, food, gifts or the welcome that was .
             common towards a guest. Homer, narrating this episode through Odysseus, uses .
             vivid and realistic imagery in lines 9.306-335 to convey the savage and lawless .
             characterization of the Cyclops. .
             In the scene Odysseus tells the tale of landing on the island of the Cyclopes and of .
             being trapped in the cave of Polyphemus. The Cyclops is described by Homer as living .
             in a cave. In comparison to the Phaeacians, to whom the tale is being told, live in a .
             civilized, hospitable society, in grand magnificent palaces with vast wealth. The Cyclops .
             lives in isolation without any contact with the other Cyclopes on the island or the outside .
             world and thus has not been exposed to a civilized culture, like that of the Phaeacians. .
             The cave serves as an obstacle or a form of covering, one from which the Cyclops has .
             not emerged from to be part of civilized society. .
             In the lines 9.306 -335 we are given hints as to the cruel nature of the Cyclops .
             when he does not offer any signs of hospitality to his visitors. Instead the phrase "brutal .
             heart" is used as foreshadowing of what is to come. The Cyclops in his very own words .
             has no respect for Zeus and the other gods and hence no respect for civility, culture or .
             hospitability lines 9.306-313. Rather he is a primitive one dimensional creature ruled by .
             primal urges and needs. .
             The Cyclops asks Odysseus about his ship or if he has other men whom are .
             perhaps alive on another part of the island.

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