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Human Traditions
Home | Gilgamesh | The Odyssey and Oedipus the King | The Inferno

The Odyssey and Oedipus the King

Monsters appearing in the Odyssey and Oedipus the King

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Polyphemus:

He is a cyclops (a one eyed giant) who occupies an island that Odysseus comes upon. Polyphemus captures Odysseus and his men and plans to eat them, but Odysseus uses his wits to blind Polyphemus and escape. In doing so, however, he opens himself up to the wrath of Polyphemus's father, the sea God, Poseidon.

The sphinx:

In Oedipus the King, Oedipus encounters a sphinx, a winged riddling monster, with a woman's head and lion's body. She guarded the city of Thebes as well as the Queen Jocasta, and ravaged the fields and people who lived there. When Oedipus arrived and solved her riddle, she threw herself fomr a cliff and died, and Oedipus became the king of Thebes.

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In the Odyssey, the monster poses an immediate threat that must be dealt with in order to survive. In destroying the monster, however, Odysseus may have exposed himself to an even bigger monster that awaits him in the sea, the wrath of Polyphemus's father, Poseidon





In Oedipus the King, Oedipus conquers the beast for the good of the city of Thebes, and in doing so becomes the king, unaware that he is taking his own mother as his queen. Perhaps in defeating the physical monster that was the Sphinx, Oedipus opened himself up to his personal monsters, the truth and fate that awaited him in Thebes.

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