Compare And Contrast Odysseus & Polyphemus Essay

Length: 2 pages Sources: 1 Subject: Literature Type: Essay Paper: #13267332 Related Topics: Comparison, Compare And Contrast, Contrast
Excerpt from Essay :

¶ … Odysseus & Polyphemus

Odysseus and Polyphemus are a study in contrast. In fact, these two characters of Homer's The Odyssey are polar opposites. Odysseus is a bona fide hero and exemplifies some of the best qualities of mankind. Polyphemus is a deformed, one-eyed brute who plays the role of an arch-villain. He effectively exemplifies some of the worst virtues in physical creatures. Odysseus personifies the virtue of knowledge, wit, cunning, and intelligence. Polyphemus personifies the negative attributes of credulousness, ignorance, and overconfidence. The way their encounter ends informs one's understanding of the self vs. The other.

Although Odysseus is a brave warrior and a man of strength, his strength is nothing compared to that of Polyphemus. Odysseus' stature as a man cannot compare to the stature of Polyphemus, who is a giant. Polyphemus' huge girth is the source of his physical strength, which is readily evinced when he rapidly kills Odysseus' men and eats them. From a purely physical standpoint then, these two characters are opposites. Polyphemus is huge and strong while in comparison, Odysseus is small and weak. This fact does not prevent Odysseus from defeating the former; this fact alludes to the reality that the self is not...


The Greek's intellect is another point of contrast between him and the Cyclops. Oedipus is extremely intelligent and well versed in strategy due to his tenure as a warrior. Polyphemus, however, due to his immense size and tremendous strength, is not as adept at utilizing his mental prowess. This point proves to be the crucial distinction between these two. Because Polyphemus only perceives attacks in physical form he relaxes and imbibes wine from Oedipus. It is extremely revealing that the drunken stupor that ensues is presaged by a passage in which Homer describes the Cyclops as "foolish" (Homer, Book 9, 422) for effectively trusting an enemy. Polyphemus' credulity suggests that the non-physical attributes of the self are more vital than the physical.

The intellect and wit that Odysseus personifies and which Polyphemus lacks, and which is a fundamental point of dissimilarity between the two is fully evinced as Odysseus makes his escape. Because Odysseus told the Cyclops that the former's name was a synonym for no one, Polyphemus could not effectively summon assistance…

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Works Cited

Homer. The Odyssey. 2008. Web.

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