What "laws" of behavior and attitude does Polyphemus violate in "The Odyssey"?  Explain.

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Polyphemus violates almost every law of behavior that Odysseus and the Achaians have come to expect.  First, Polyphemus asks who they are and what their business is, before he give them any food or comfort. 

"Strangers, who are you, and whence do you sail on the watery pathways?
Have you affairs in trading, or do you fruitlessly wander
over the sea in the manner of pirates who wander at random,
putting their lives in danger and visiting evil on strangers?" (Book 9, lines 252-255)

This was not the Greek way of hospitality.  In other parts of the poem (such as when Odysseus is among the Phaiacians, and again when Odysseus is in the swineherd's hut) it is clear that it is a point of honor of a household to give a stanger food and refreshment first, and perhaps a bath and clothing, before asking his or her name or business.

Furthermore, Polyphemus blasphemes the gods, and ultimately violates one of the worst taboos in the Greek world: cannibalism.  Polyphemus also traps Odysseus and his men, as he plans to eat them over a period of time.  Polyphemus is an example of a savage and uncivilized man.

Source: Homer. The Odyssey.  Rodney Merrill, trans.  Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2006.

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The Odyssey

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