I am doing a piece of literary criticism on this passage and essentially need to say as much as I possibly can about this passage. I would be grateful if people could comment on, correct or add to what I write here (and I know the textkitoi are a pretty learned bunch...!
(It's amazing how much you can see in such a small passage with really close reading! We should do more of it!)
anyhting marked with a * i am particularly needing guidance on!
General: this passage is the climactic action of the book and summarises the whole conflict between the civilised and the uncivilised in this book (and in this section (books 9-12)).
up to 374: this reminds us how horrible and savage the cyclops is (vomiting man flesh is an especial taunt). this is particularly unusual in the homeric world where usually everything is excellent, fine, strong etc. by reminding us of the cyclops' wrong doing this ensures that the reader can enjoy the triumph over the cyclops without feeling sorry for him( this is the poem of action - oral poetry and so the moment is everything).there is some irony in "pandamator" - the cyclops will soon be tamed by something else.
[another thing that helps our enjoyment of the eventual blinding but not in this passage is the god inspiring them with courage - which suggests that their action is morally right (line 381]
375 - 382: show odysseus as a good leader - he leads, withdrawing the stake at just hte right time(all' ote de" line 378; encouraging his men, his men standing around as he brings the stake out of the fire etc.
the inspiration by a god is a perhaps a metaphor witht he courage that inspires men when doing something particularly dangerous ("let's do this! " kind of attitude...)
* a slight reference to the future joke on "metis" line 377?
* some parallels with arming scenes before aristeia / duels in the iliad.. but which ones?
***Is there intentional assonance on lin 383? there are a lot of "ei" "e" and "r"s. if so, to what effect? to mirror the steady slow pushing in of the stake? or the noise of the eyeball as it is punctured?
"dineon" line 384 at the beginning of the line; also "smerdaleon" 395; pharmasswn line 393
So many details to make this vivid! Reference to heat, sound etc! details of eyes and roots and hot blood! onomatapeia of "siz" line 394 and wmwksen 395.
iaxe used in simile 392 and in narrative 395.
contrast the civilsied craftsmen with the uncivilised wood/iron. cyclops as helpless as the fleed plank of wood. "tempering"of the iron and tampering of the cyclops? drill = merciless mechanism of odysseus. shipwright working with mates shows teamwork of the greeks here.
**HOMERIC genius in this passage: inconsistency of bronzesmith tmepering iron suggests homeric modification of a traditional simile. similes were not so well used in previous epci poems (eg gilgamesh). this provides evidnece that homer enhanced them. we can also see traces of merged ancient folk tales in this story. in one version the cyclops was blinded with a iron bar . when the stake glows red this is what homer is thinking of.
**oh and i almost forgot metre! im not veyr good on meter. ive scanned it and i cant find much noteworthy in this passage but im sure it's there.
wmwksen (395) is perhaps a spondee to draw it out or match the long groan of the cyclops. can anyone see any other interesting bits of meter?