In "The Odyssey," why might Odysseus have commented on the Cyclopes' way of life before relating his adventure in their land?

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Jessica Akcinar eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Cyclops's island is one of the many obstacles Odysseus faces while trying to reach Ithaca. Upon arriving at the island, Odysseus describes the island's inhabitants as idiots "without a law to bless them." According to Odysseus, the cyclopes are brutes, barbarians who do not care for anything including themselves, each other, and their land. They beat their wives and children and are uncivilized and reclusive.

By describing the cyclopes in such an unfavorable light, Odysseus gains the approval of his audience to brutally maim the giant Polyphemus. Although he and his men are unwelcome intruders and thieves in the Cyclops's home, we the readers are content when Odysseus adds insult to injury, or in this case, injury to insult, by savagely blinding Poseidon's huge son. Had Odysseus not painted the cyclopes as disgusting, uncivilized beings, we may have felt sorry for Polyphemus and ostracized the story's hero instead.

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The Odyssey

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