Mariela PerezInvasion of Cyclops’ Home Two worlds collide with the travelsof Odysseus into the land of the Cyclops.
The values of both parties are tested.Odysseus favors wisdom, whereas the Cyclops relies on force to obtain what hewants. The battle of values is what leads to their temporary downfalls.
However, all could have been avoided if Odysseus kept to himself and did notimpose his beliefs to an unknown power/creature. It was wrong of Odysseus to enter foreign landand expect acceptance and camaraderie from someone who’s never met neverthelessheard of him and owes him absolutely nothing. Notably,both the Cyclops’ and Odysseus present themselves in a certain way. This way ofbeing is determined by several factors, from their socio-economic status, tothe culture they were raised into, to childhood experiences. With this set ofbeing comes a group of values that shaped how they go about their lives andtreat those around them.
Odysseus was born into power therefore he is more incontrol of the community that surrounds him. He maintains a level ofsuperiority and influence over others. So, most commonly what he deems as rightis followed, whereas what is wrong is punished not only by the man/men inpower, but also the society as a whole. On the other hand, the Cyclops’ livesin solitude with no rules that restrain him.InThe Odyssey, Odysseus and his countryhighly value hospitality, revenge, religion, wisdom, and beauty. Hospitality isviewed throughout the epic and encompasses the idea that all visitors should beserviced without prior knowledge of who they are or what they are there for.Once each visitor/traveler is made comfortable and is fed, they are questionedabout their whereabouts.
For example, in the case of Athena, Telemachus broughther in and fed her without questioning her. He scolded his servants who did notprovide her with such service. After she was brought into his home, she wasasked who she was and why she was there. This represents how important serviceto others is for those inhabiting Ithaca under Odysseus’ reign. However, the Cyclopslives alone without a community, so this value was never engraved into him andOdysseus comes to realize that when he enters his home and feeds on his goatcheese. The question on whether it was wrongfor Odysseus to act the way he did towards the Cyclops ties into the idea ofcultural relativity.
Should they both be held at the same social standardalthough they did not inhabit the same community? Clearly, the values of the Cyclopsdiffer from those of Odysseus and his companions. The Cyclops has conformed toa style of living isolated from other islands and people. Due to this, he holdsa mindset different from Odysseus and is selfish with his treasures. He seesanyone who invades his territory as a threat. Odysseus expected acceptance intothe Cyclops’ home, but receives far from that.
The Cyclops relies slowly onforce, which is looked down upon by the Gods and Odysseus. As Odysseusaddresses the Cyclops in his home, he humiliates him and hurts him for nottreating his men right. He entered a foreign home and expected the inhabitantto act like him, however he was wrong for assuming his values. They do notvalue the same ideals, therefore to the Cyclops, hospitality is not vital, butsurvival at all costs is. Others may suggest that Odysseus hadevery right to humiliate and hurt the Cyclops, because he ate his shipmen. Thisis supported by ex(Homer, Od., p.289 or 81).
“- Use line numbers.However, this dismisses the idea of values and how they must be respected bythe travelers just as much as they would want their own to be respected and notbe set aside completely. In the text, Odysseus is also portrayed as a liar,since he is unfaithful to his wife. So, how fair or honest can his word be? Healso does not respect his own code of hospitality, since he executes the housemaidsand suitors that drank his wine and ate his beeves(ex). If it were not for Athena’s divineintervention the cycle of war would have continued, since Odysseus is notaccustomed to peacetime. Odysseus is an ideal with an abundance of flaws, sohis extreme skills are not enough to maintain a civilized Ithaca.