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Chapter 4 - The Cyclops (Cyclops inhospitalis)

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  09 November 2023

Julia Kindt
Affiliation:
University of Sydney
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Summary

This chapter focuses on the figure of the Cyclops and the use of ‘the animal’ in thinking human difference. It presents the animalizing of certain humans (the attribution of animal features to them) as a potent strategy to dehumanize and thus marginalize certain ways of being human. In the ethnographic imagination of Homer’s Odyssey, the margins of the known world are shown to coincide with the margins of the human. The chapter further illustrates that this spatial concept of the human did not remain restricted to the ancient world but carries on into the modern: The figure of the Cyclops, whose problematic humanity is in sharp contrast to the enlightened, educated, and cunning Odysseus, in many ways anticipates that of ‘the savage’ as the quintessential ‘other’ in the modern Western ethnographic literature. And yet the question arises as to whether the ancient story does not already expose the kind of hubris at play when we normalize certain ways of being human while dismissing others.

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Chapter
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The Trojan Horse and Other Stories
Ten Ancient Creatures That Make Us Human
, pp. 85 - 108
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2024

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