Caves as Symbol of Chaos Essay

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The use of caves in mythology to depict darkness and abandonment has branded it as a symbol of chaos. From this perception other associations are made which connect the cave to prejudices, malevolent spirits, burial sites, sadness, resurrection and intimacy. It is a world to which only few venture, and yet its mysticism has attracted the interest of philosophers, religious figures and thinkers throughout history. These myths are exemplified in Homer’s "Odyssey," where the two worlds of mortals and immortals unite in the eternal cave. To Plato, the cave represents the confusion between reality and falsehood. Individuals chained deep within the recesses of the cave mistake their shadows for physical existence. These…show more content…
It becomes a system both unstable and lawless, and survival as a guest in such a cave is only accomplished through the complete submission to the sovereign. In Odysseus’ encounter with the Cyclops, it is his disregard for Polyphemos’ authority that costs him the lives of several companions, and ultimately a ten year delay on his return home. The land of the Cyclops epitomizes darkness, chaos, and abandonment; where the only law exists past the entrance of the cave. From the island’s shore a "high wall of...boulders"2 can be seen encircling each cave. Clearly impossible of being accomplished by mortals, massive walls of similar description found standing after the Persian Wars were also thought by ancient Greeks to be the work of the Cyclops. Unfamiliar to this system of power, Odysseus disregards these laws and enters the cave without an invitation. For this reason, Polyphemos implicates his own punishment onto the trespassers, and kills six men. In order to escape the wrath of the Cyclops, Odysseus eventually blinds him, an offense which falls under the jurisdiction of Poseidon, and for which he ultimately pays throughout his wanderings. The uncontrollable winds next direct Odysseus through a narrow strait outlined by rocks and cliffs through which he must pass to return home. On these cliffs which stand opposite each other lurk Scylla and Charybdis, one side "reach[ing] up

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