Cultural Beliefs In The Odyssey By Beowulf

Decent Essays
In The Odyssey, the Cyclops symbolizes cultural values straying from the norm of society, while in Beowulf, Grendel symbolizes the consequences of not conforming to those values.
In The Odyssey, Homer uses the Cyclops to encapsulate values which are considered abnormal in everyday society. The beasts are culturally, politically and religiously detached from civilization. Homer describes the one-eyed beasts, “They have no meeting place for council, no laws either, no, up on the mountain peaks they live in arching caverns-each a law to himself, ruling his wives and children, not a care in the world for any neighbor” (9.125-128) In ancient greek society family and community were heavily valued, however it seems that each Cyclops wants nothing to do with the others, revealing them as cultural outsiders who wouldn’t be accepted among humanity. Additionally, the brutes have “no meeting place for council, no laws either.” The Odyssey was written in the 8th century BC, during the beginnings of Archaic Greece. City-states were the popular form of government and communal decision making started to gain value. In stark contrast to this form of politics, the Cyclops made decisions for themselves, rarely communicating with anyone but their own families. Their governmental actions stray far from the Greeks’ public standards. Perhaps the largest difference between the Cyclops and any other Greek citizen though, is their religious difference. The Cyclops boasts to Odysseus, “‘We Cyclops
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