Societies of Homer's Odyssey.

Essay by fenisnadHigh School, 12th gradeA+, January 2006

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The various strange societies Odysseus encounters on his journey all serve to support the society that is viewed, then and now, as the ideal. That society is one which has unity, a system of laws, recognition of the common good by the citizens, and a means of protecting itself. Some of these are antithesis of an ideal society; others present certain aspects of an ideal society.

The Kikones were a people who inhabited Thrace (An area encompassing what is now Turkey west of the Dardanelles and Bulgaria), and were allied with Troy during the Trojan War. Odysseus lands on their land and his men proceed to take livestock, wine, and prisoners from them. Fugitives go to the rest of the Kikones with the news, and, predictably, they try to kill the Achaeans. What is remarkable is the size of the army assembled against the Achaeans and the speed with which it was assembled.

Homer describes their forces "Like leaves and blades of spring" - A testament to the sheer numeric superiority of the Kikones. The raising of an army against Odysseus shows a unity among the Kikones and a willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good. This is a quality that the Greek people, especially nobles Homer performed for, depended on for their survival.

Another society Odysseus encounters is that of the Kyklopes. They stand in stark contrast to the Kikones in that each giant keeps to itself and cares little for its fellow Kyklopes. They barely communicate, and, as a result, don't practice two innovations that elevated Man above the other creatures: Agriculture and trade. These things had no laws but those of their individual desires, and are brutal and uncompassionate as a result. The other Kyklopes refused to help Polyphemos when he was...