1. What does Odysseus say of his homeland and background?
Odysseus from lines 20-32 briefly mentions his home land, Ithaca, and his background. He renown’s it as “Sunny Ithaca is my home”, we can estimate he thinks of it warmly due to the use of “Sunny” oppose to a negative word. Also he exaggerates Ithaca by stating: “I know no sweeter sight on earth than a man’s native country”, which persuades us how highly he feels of his home country. ‘Royal Odysseus’ also tells us of his glorious self background by saying he’s “known to the world for every kind of craft” and “my fame has reached the skies”, showing us his cocky and arrogant character.
2. What do we learn about Cicones? How does Odysseus behave – is this the right sort of behaviour?
‘Hotheaded Odysseus’ came across “Ismarus, the Cicones’ stronghold”, noting how “stronghold” implies Ismarus is likely military based or at least defensive. Here he “sacked the city, killed the men, but as for the woman and plunder, that rich haul… we shared it round”. From this we’re unsure whether the Ismarus people initially started the fight, but since he did not mention this; we can only imply that Odysseus went ahead and raided the place. We also learn the Cicones are connected people and have allies, since they “called for help” during Odysseus’ raid. This isn’t really the ‘right sort of behaviour’
3. How are the Cyclopes painted by Odysseus?
Initially picturing the Cyclops as “high and mighty” (most likely due to the fact they’re descendants of Poseidon), Odysseus quickly changes to view of them as being “lawless brutes”. He goes onto to examine them by saying “each a law to himself” and “They have no meeting place for council”, suggesting their animalistic side or even their uncivilised manner. Odysseus goes on to mention that they have “not a care in the world for any neighbour” which explains the fact they likely live in separate caves, meaning they’re not the communal type.
4. Odysseus’ behaviour falls short of what is expected. What does he do that is ‘wrong’?
It’s best to first mention the fact that Odysseus has pillaged from both the Cicones and the Cyclopes, which of course is an act of bad xenia. Also, when plundering Ismarus, there is brief mention of “wives… we shared it round”: which indicates they likely raped the women, this is a pretty ‘wrong’ thing to do. Also, when evading the Cyclopes, Odysseus doesn’t listen to his crew members (“So headstrong-why? Why rile the beast again?”) And by doing this; almost leads them to their doom. Not to mention he was initially angering the Cyclopes further, by hurling unneeded insults.
5. There are contradictions in the way that the Cyclops is presented. On the one hand he seems civilised but when he deals with Odysseus and his men he is uncivil. Find examples of both the civilised nature of the Cyclops and the uncivil behaviour.
On the civilised side, one of Odysseus’ first impressions of the Cyclopes is that they’re “high and mighty”. This speak would of course show respect towards the race, highly. There is also mention of a Cyclops whom ‘prayed’, which of course is a show of being civil. Although Odysseus himself contradicts their “high” authority by stating they’re “lawless brutes”. Also Odysseus describes their violent nature, when telling us the fate of a couple of crew mates: “he knocked them dead like pups”. Not to mention, after the violent murder, he started “ripping them limb from limb to fix his meal”. Cannibalism and murdering ‘guests’ is frowned upon, which is their uncivil nature.
6. How is Odysseus’ cunning shown in this book?
Odysseus’ “great cunning stroke” is shown multiple times in Book 9, most of which involve defeating the Cyclops. First of all, when asked his name, Odysseus shows great intelligence by replying with “nobody”. This proves to be useful since the Cyclops calls for help because “nobody” is attacking him, so no one comes to his aid. Also Odysseus doesn’t give information away, such as where his ship is, and instead states that “Poseidon god of the earthquake smashed my ship”. Finally Odysseus’ escape features him pretending to be the Cyclops’ ram, “three beats to bear each man”.
7. Odysseus also suffers from hubris on occasions. What about his behaviour shows his hubris?
Hubris (meaning the excessive pride or self-confidence) is shown towards the end of the chapter. For instance, when Odysseus and crew is near escape, Odysseus starts “stinging taunts” to the Cyclops. This of course alerted the Cyclops who now started to pursue Odysseus and company. Even after the Cyclops started to hurl rocks at them, Odysseus continued to taunt: “if any man… should ask you who blinded, shamed you so-say Odysseus”. He even, in fact, shouts that ignoring what his crew told him; “So headstrong-why? Why rile the beast again?” This is a definite show of hubris.
8. What impression of Odysseus have we been given BEFORE Book 9? What is different about Odysseus’ behaviour and actions that does not meet our impressions and expectations?
Before Book 9, we have had some pretty weak perspectives of Odysseus. One factor being that he was portrayed quite weakly when he was sobbing and being unfaithful (to his wife) on a goddesses island. Also we’ve witnessed him acting as a ‘suppliant’. We’ve been contradicted in Book 9, when our expectations get turned around. In this book, we see Odysseus briskly change into a cunning, brave and hubris man; once dealing with a Cyclops. Also the two stories at the start of the chapter portray him again as being witty, like when he drags the men back to the ships after being intoxicated by the lotus. We also have a second portrayal of him selfishly plundering the Cicones. Many of these factors do not quite match to what we’ve heard from previous Books in the Odyssey.