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The Odyssey: Book 9
Transcript of The Odyssey: Book 9
Odysseus and his crew spend two days and two nights on an island resting after navigating their way out of the treacherous blast of Zeus's angered hurricane.
Along their journey home, Odesseus and his crew docked on the land of the lotus eaters, at first they seemed very hospitable, but then Odysseus realized that all those who tasted the lotus (likely opium) lost all desire to ever return home. Odysseus ended up bringing his men back mentally through weaning them off the lotus flower and sailing away against their will.
The cyclops do not farm their land whatsoever, though it would be perfect for it, all they do is raise herds of sheeps and goats. The gods just provide for them bountiful year round harvests because they are the children of Poseiden. After arriving and spending a night on their ship, they eat mountain goats from the nymphs for breakfast, and start off along the cyclops' shore. They journey all day, so close to the cyclops that they could here their voices and then when night came they slept again. Then on the dext morning Odysseus took only a few of his men and journeyed to Polyphemus's cave to discover if they were "Violent, savage [and] lawless, or friendly to strangers, god fearing men"
The Odyssey: Book 9
In the One-Eyed Giants Cave
Odysseus and his crew journey to cavern that Polyphemus calls home and Odysseus compares him to a shaggy peak rather than a mortal man. Odysseus proceeds to confront the cyclops with 12 of his best men, bringing with him the strongest wine he had in hope for a trade. When they get to the cave, Polyphemus is not home so they decide to explore. Odysseus describes the cave with "large flat racks loaded with drying cheeses, the folds crowded with yound lambs and kids... and all his vessels, pails and hammered buckets he used for milking, were brimming full with whey." (9.245-51) His crew just wants to take the food and leave, but Odysseaus' curiosity gets the better of him and they wait for Polyphemus to return.
This book starts out in Alcinous's dining room with Odysseues telling the story of how he blinded the great cyclops, Polyphemus.
“The tables heaped with bread and meats, and drawing wine from the mixing bowl the steward makes his rounds and keeps the winecups flowing.” (9.8-10)
Then it switches over to where Odysseus and his crew are in the story. The setting transitions to the Island of the Cyclops (now Sicily) and Polyphemus's cave.
“And here big flocks, sheep and goats, were stalled to spend the nights, and around it’s mouth a yard was walled up with quarried boulders sunk deep in the earth and enormous pines and oak trees looming darkly… here was a giants lair.” (9.203-208)
The book starts out with Odysseus telling the tale of his trials to the generous King Alcinous. He talks of the lustrous Calypso and bewitching queen Circe holding him captive and the battle with the Cicones people in which six of his men died because of their insistance to stay.
Odysseus and his crew build a fire, eat Polyphemus's cheeses and offer some to the gods. Polyphemus returns with dry logs for the fire and some of his heard that he plans to milk. He throws the logs down as he arrives and scares Odysseus and the crew so badly that they run off to hide in the corners of the cave. He then asks them who they are, where they're from, and what they are doing in his cave.
Odysseus explains that they have lost their way and that they have come to him asking for his help, also mentioning Xenia and the torture Zeus would inflict for not following the common practices. Polyphemus disregards all the rights that strangers have by saying, "you must be a fool, stranger, or come here from nowhere, telling me to fear the gods or avoid their wrath! We cyclops never blink at Zeus... we've got far more force by far. I'd never spare you in fear of Zeus's hatred." Polyphemus then asks them where their ship is and Odysseus responds by saying it was dashed against some rocks and that they had barely escaped with their lives. With nothing left to offer the cyclops he grabs 2 men, smashes their brains on a rock, eats them, and goes to sleep. Appalled, the others pray to Zeus that they will be spared and Polyphemus sleeps. Odysseus wants to kill Polyphemus on the spot, but there is a giant boulder blocking their way, so they lay there, waiting for morning.
When the next day arrived Polyphemus started out by milking his ewes, (which are female sheep). Then he snatches up two more men and ate them for breakfast, leaves the cave, and covers it up again with the giant boulder. Odysseus then comes up with the plan to put Polyphemus's olive branch club into the fire and blind him with it. When nightfall came, Odysseus and four other men encourage Polyphemus's inebriation, and Odysseus tells him that his name is nobody, an act of metis.
While Polyphemus is drunkenly heaving on the ground, Odysseus and his four men thrust the searing hot club into his only eye, blinding him and causing an immense amount of pain. When Polyphemus cries out for help he uses the name that Odysseus gave himself, "Nobody" so all of the other cyclops believe that nobody is harming him. Odysseus then decides that to escape the cave he will need to ride on the underside of a sheep so that when Polyfemus is feeling them as they leave he only feels their back fleece.
The next morning Odysseus's crew escapes. Polyphemus talks to the sheep that Odysseus is riding on and describes how if only the sheep could talk, then they would tell him where the men are. Once they are free of the cave they take off towards their ship and row away fom the island. Once Odysseus believes that he is far enough away from the island he taunts Polyphemus by calling back, "you shameless canibal, daring to eat your guests in your own house- so Zeus and the other gods have paid you back!" (9.535-36) This statement riles up the cyclops quite a lot and he breaks the top of a mountain off from around him and chucks it so far that it lands in front of the boat and pushes them back towards shore. Once the crew had recovered and rowed twice as far away, Odysseus then decides, against his crew's wishes, to taunt Polyphemus further. He tells Polyphemus his name so that he may know who blinded him, but it leads to the cyclops praying to his father, Poseidon, and asking him to curse Odysseus and make his journey home as painful and long as possible.
The book finishes out with Odysseus sacrificing the biggest ram to Cronos' son Zeus, but "[his] actions failed to move the gods, Zeus was still obsessed with [destroying his]... crew" because of his actions toward Polyfemus both Poseidon and Zeus have it out for him and are plotting his trials from that moment onward.
(9.197) What is the significance of Odysseus deciding to sail towards the cyclops? Even though he didn't know it was th Island of Cyclops, this is the only bad decision he's made regarding the lives of himself and his crew. (Not even other unknowing bad decisions)
(9.537-563) Why does Homer make Odysseus's life-saving cleverness lead to pride that endangers lives?
(9.537-563) What is Homer's stance on pride, and how is that portrayed?
What is the primary conflict in this chapter, and what Greek concept is most applicable in a character's method of resolving that conflict?
“But tell me, where did you moor your sturdy ship when you arrived? Up the coast or close in? I’d just like to know.” (9.314-16)
"Nobody's friendds'- Polyfemus bellowed back from his cave- Nobody's killing me now by fraud and not by force!"
Xenia- Odysseus just expected that whoever the owner of the cave was, that they would obey the agreed upon guest-host rules, so when Polyfemus did not it took Odysseus by surprise and led to the death of four of his men
Logos- Odysseus attemps to use logic to convince Polyfemus to help them stating,"Zeus of the Strangers guards all guests and suppliants: strangers are sacred- Zeus will avenge their rights!" (9.304-05) But because cyclops are already favored by the gods, this tactic does not work.
Hubris- Odysseus is so prideful about blinding the great Polyfemus that he completely disregards the safety of his crew and taunts Polyfemus as they row away from the island, almost killing them on the spot twice, and eventually Polyfemus asks the gods to curse Odysseus and his entire ship, this request is granted. "[The crew] begged but they could not bring my fighting spirit round." (9.556-57)
I would relate this the the candy witch's house in the Hansel and Gretel fairytale. In both stories, the guests enter with preconcieved notions that they will be safe, but as the story continues both Odysseus and Hansel and Gretel end up in perilous situations. Then in the fairytale, the children escape through a clever trick. They make the blind witch believe that they are not getting any fatter through letting her feel a bone instead of their fingers until they can eventually push her into the stove. This is very similar to the Odyssey as Odysseus tricks Polyfemus into getting intoxicated and them blinds him, which allows him and his crew to escape.
Mary Fenberg & Lilah Slaughter