The gods of the ancient Greeks suffered no insult from mortal man

The gods of the ancient Greeks suffered no insult from mortal man

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1 Dustin Johnston Eng 265.12W Dr. Bell May 6, 2008 The God’s Gravest Punishment The Use of Cannibalism in The Odyssey In epic, the gods of ancient Greece suffered few insults from mortal man. Almost without fail, an act of insolence from a mortal would bring down the wrath of the gods. In Homer’s The Odyssey , impiety towards the gods was dealt with through severe and often supernatural punishment, the gravest of which quite possibly could have been the use of cannibalism. It seems as if when Homer really wants to place emphasis on a specific insolent act committed by a character, he does so through an act of cannibalism, either perpetrated by the character or inflicted upon that character. Homer uses the theme of cannibalism not only to draw his audience’s attention to a certain event, but also to serve as a warning about the importance of certain traditions and codes or not behaving too hubristically. To the ancient Greeks and indeed to the majority of people today, the mere thought of devouring another sentient being or having another human dine upon your flesh is a ghastly proposition. Through the use of cannibalism in The Odyssey , Homer was able to convey the importance of certain situations that otherwise may have been overlooked. This can clearly be seen when one examines the levels of severity of cannibalism in The Odyssey . The more clearly visible the act of cannibalism, the more severe its punishment seems to be.
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2 Cannibalism in The Odyssey can be separated into three different branches. First are the visible acts of cannibalism, which are much more blatant than the other two and the acts themselves or the acts that they originate from are normally larger and far reaching. These acts are also normally perpetrated by humans or near humans, mythological creatures with a majority of human like characteristics. These acts are also centered around one or more of the main characters and do not affect the world as a whole, except by unforeseeable externalities. The second branch, supernatural cannibalism, involves mythological beings that could not be mistaken for human beings or relatives to humans; the creatures involved in this type of cannibalism are normally being punished by the gods for some act that they did. For this punishment, they are being forced to eat humans, normally making no conscience choice on their part. These acts of cannibalism normally encompass acts that are not perpetrated on a specific character or a group of characters but the world as a whole. The third and final branch of cannibalism are those acts that must be inferred or assumed. Most of these acts are not governed by the same laws as the other two because they are much more obscure and are open to many different interpretations. This branch includes all acts where the creature in question could be considered human or human-like and this creature is eaten by another human. These acts are normally more remote, thus they can still be seen as a supernatural punishment for the world as a whole, but are
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The gods of the ancient Greeks suffered no insult from mortal man

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