Odysseus And The Laistrygones In Homer's Odyssey

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Odysseus' disastrous encounter with the Laistrygones is a useful reference point for analyzing the nature of guest-host relationships in The Odyssey. When it is compared with his arrivals at the lands of the Phaiakians and the hands of the Cyclopes, a fuller picture of Odysseus and the customs of his time emerges; in addition, this reveals some of Homer's more adroit storytelling techniques. To regard The Odyssey as the tale of one man's wanderings, as many do, is to ignore half its importance; it is also the story of his stops between wanderings. Initially, all proceeds well when Odysseus sends three men to learn the nature of the Laistrygones: the land, with its smooth roads, seems orderly - this, coupled with the placid harbor that greeted their arrival at Lamos, leads the reader to believe that this is a peaceful place - and the first person the posse meets is receptive and informative. This information, relayed mutedly by Homer, is reassuring: after their troubles with the Cyclopes and six days of sailing, it seems the voyagers will finally find rest. The positive (by now,…show more content…
Something besides life has been destroyed: a basic fabric of generosity, hospitality and good will that the voyagers deserve has been betrayed. If Odysseus and his men found welcoming hosts at every turn, the latter would lose their significance - they would be taken for granted. By building the travelers' hopes at each new location and sometimes dashing them savagely, Homer elevates the status of the good folk who do receive them in peace and give food and shelter. The relations between guest and host form the core of The Odyssey; their range - from eight years of divine food and loving to cruel death - reveals that no matter what horrors a man encounters at war and on the open sea, a crueler fate could await in another man's

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