Varying Cultural Structures in Homer's The Illiad and The Odyssey

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Greek mythology deals significantly with culture and its factors, as they describe the societies and the people inhabiting it by depicting their everyday life and the state of their land. Both Hephaestus, in Homer’s Iliad, and Odysseus, in Homer’s The Odyssey, set out to portray the cultures that they saw, yet the cultures and societies varied greatly, from Hephaestus illustrating the highly developed societies of the Greek and their culture; while on the other hand, Odysseus seems baffled by how underdeveloped the Cyclopes land and culture is. Hephaestus and Odysseus seem to have the same understanding what is normal of a culture, society, and their factors; however, there are noteworthy variations between their accounts. In the 18th …show more content…

Odysseus continues to elaborate, “These people have no institutions, no meetings for council…each one is the law for his wives and children.” (Odyssey 9.112, 114) Hence, the absence of laws leads to the lack of a structured society, where there were no mediators, no law to abide by to and dictate what is right or wrong. Such difference was dire enough for Odysseus to use to describe the new land that he reached, as this state of chaos and lack of laws was one of the primary shortcomings of the Cyclops culture, and could be the reason why the Cyclops’ culture was primitive. The major difference between the two cultures, Hephaestus’ culture on the shield and the Cyclops culture, is in their approach to agriculture and the economical basis of the culture. Hephaestus described the agriculture aspect using many images, starting with “He made upon it a soft field, the pride of the tilled land, wide and triple-ploughed.” (Iliad 18.541, 542) Here he vividly displayed the image of the ploughed field; also, Hephaestus continues to elaborate on agriculture, as it is the economic basis and structure of the culture on the shield. Ensuing Hephaestus proceeds to describe a harvesting scene with the harvesters working, the king pleased with the harvest and the women preparing food for the workers while the heralds preparing a feast; thus showing the society members and the role of each one and

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