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What are two unpleasant characteristics that Odysseus used to describe Polyphemus (the...

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haperb289 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted September 18, 2008 at 4:36 AM via web

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What are two unpleasant characteristics that Odysseus used to describe Polyphemus (the Cyclops) that Polyphemus could also use to describe Odysseus.

Explain why Polyphemus could attribute these characteristics to Odysseus, supporting your answer with examples from the story.

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chicagorilke23 | (Level 1) Assistant Educator

Posted September 19, 2008 at 11:09 AM (Answer #1)

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The two unpleasant characteristics Odysseus used to describe the Cyclopes people were "lawless" and "inhuman," but he referred to the Cyclops as a cruel wretch and as an outlaw. However, the Cyclops could describe Odysseus as a cruel wretch and an outlaw as well, given the behavior of Odysseus and his men in the cave of the Cyclops.

Odysseus first took a few of his best men over to see if the Cyclopes were lawless and inhuman. Yet, Odysseus and his men exhibited outlaw behavior upon entering the cave of Cyclops. While the men had their apprehensions about being there without a host, Odysseus had no thought of leaving. They lit a fire and ate from the crates of cheese in the cave. This is only after the men thought about stealing all the cheese and animals in the cave, to take back to the ship. Then the Cyclops returns to his cave where he interrogates Odysseus and eats his men. The hubris, or excessive pride, of the Cyclops, seals his doom.

Odysseus gets the Cyclops drunk on wine that the men had brought from the ship. Then he tells the Cyclops his name is, no man; with this, the Cyclops eats more of the men. Soon after, Odysseus drives the sharp end of a heated beam of wood into the eye of the Cyclops. Odysseus and his men then escape from the cave tied under sheep while the Cyclops calls for help. Though this escape is cunning and saves his men, Odysseus is as much a cruel wretch and an outlaw, as the Cyclops was in the treatment of Odysseus and his men.

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